PBI calls on public development banks to prioritize human rights at the upcoming Finance in Common Summit

Published by Brent Patterson on

Peace Brigades International organized a meeting in Ottawa, Canada for Colombian human rights defenders from CREDHOS and the CCALCP legal collective to raise concerns about fracking and the practices of Canadian oil and gas companies with representatives of Export Development Canada in November 2019.

Peace Brigades International has signed this letter that highlights: “The activities of PDBs [public development banks] have repeatedly exacerbated poverty, widened inequalities and fuelled human rights violations (such as reprisals, land grabbing and forced evictions) without access to any useful remedies for affected communities.”

That letter, signed by more than 200 organizations, calls on the French Development Agency (AFD) to prioritize human rights, including the right to free, prior and informed consent, at its upcoming Finance in Common Summit.

AFD is convening The Finance in Common Summit: The First Global Meeting of All Public Development Banks that will take place on November 10-12 in Paris, France with a mix of in-person and digital session formats.

The summit will focus on three questions, including: “How can [public development banks] implement the transition towards a low-carbon and resilient economy?”

And their website notes: “The Summit is intended to contribute to the COP26 agenda [the United Nations climate summit, November 1-12, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland] and the G20 Summit [November 21-22 of this year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia].”

Sandrine Dixson-Dècleve (Club of Rome), Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (Indigenous leader) and Bas Eickhout (Member of the European Parliament) recently commented on the Finance in Common summit in an opinion piece published by Thomson Reuters titled: First summit of global development banks must deliver on ending fossil fuel finance.

They highlight:

“Overall, public finance institutions still present an obstacle to the energy transition. Climate science shows that we need a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy in order to limit global warming to 1.5ºC. Yet governments worldwide plan to produce 120% more oil, gas and coal by 2030 than is compatible with the 1.5ºC warming limit – supported by huge volumes of public money.”

And they specify:

“Canada, the ​second-largest financier​ of fossil fuels in the G20 (per capita, it’s the highest), has given government-backed Export Development Canada a major role in the COVID-19 response, through two major financing programs that ​specifically prioritise the fossil fuel industry, without clarity on a financial ceiling for these programs.”

In July of this year, our friends at Oil Change International, Above Ground and Environmental Defence noted in relation to the COVID-19 crisis:

“Export Development Canada (EDC) already provides on average nearly fourteen billion dollars in support to oil and gas companies each year. …Now the federal government is using EDC to channel even more support to the oil and gas sector, which has been intensely lobbying the government for a bailout package of up to $30 billion.”

Controversially, on April 28 of this year, EDC signed an agreement to loan up to $500 million to TC Energy/Coastal GasLink to assist them to build a fracked gas pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory (in British Columbia) despite the climate impacts of such a pipeline and the lack of free, prior and informed consent for the megaproject.

EDC has also previously provided a loan to Toronto-based Frontera Energy for its oil operations in Colombia (which were later found to have violated the rights of an Indigenous community); provided up to $250 million in loans to Calgary-based Parex Resources (despite concerns about its oil operations in Colombia); co-organized a visit by sixteen Canadian oil and gas companies to Colombia; and presented fracking in Colombia as an investment opportunity for Canadian businesses (despite serious human rights concerns).

The Rios Vivos movement in Colombia has also drawn attention to EDC’s financing (between $500 million and $1 billion) of the Ituango hydroelectric dam on the Cauca River and related human rights violations, including the murders of Rios Vivos members.

And CEHPRODEC in Honduras has raised concerns about EDC loans to Canadian mining companies “without adequate controls to prevent the violation of human rights in the countries where the companies that receive these benefits operate.”

Along with the Finance in Common letter, Peace Brigades International-Canada concurs with the key demands made by Oil Change International, Above Ground and Environmental Defence to the Government of Canada including:

– “Complete the 2018 legislative review of the Export Development Act. Amend the act to end EDC support for fossil fuels, including support provided through the Canada Account.

– Corporations with a record of human rights violations, including violations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, should be denied support.”

PBI-Canada will continue to monitor these issues of concern as the Finance in Common Summit approaches.

Categories: News Updates


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