29 July 2017

Climate finance : for whom is the World Bank working?

The next annual Forum organised by the Agriculture Finance Support Facility (AgriFin) of the World Bank will be held in London on 12 and 13 Septembre 2017. The Facility, designed to increase access to financial services for farmers and agribusinesses, is funded by the Gates Foundation and managed by the World Bank.

The theme of the 2017 Forum is “financing low-carbon resilient agriculture”. Featured speakers will be:

  1. A financial market analyst working for State Street Global Markets, a research and advisory center providing services to private investors ;

  2. The director of sustainability at Rabobank, the large Dutch bank that made more than 4 billion euros profits (before tax) in 2016 while laying off 14% of its staff, and whose one of the main declared objectives is to contribute to the solution of the global food issue; and

  3. A climate, energy and land use investment advisor working for the Climate Policy Initiative.

According to the description of the Forum posted on-line by AgriFin, the objective is “to connect key stakeholders in the agriculture finance and climate finance space” so as to facilitate cooperation among them. It is designed to be an opportunity to explore opportunities for partnerships among these actors.

The four thematic areas of the Forum will be:

  1. Climate and agriculture finance in action, which will deal with financial innovations in this area;

  2. Unlocking and leveraging capital at scale, with a view to developing climate-related investments in the agriculture sector;

  3. Facilitating the enabling environment through adequate policies and regulations; and

  4. Financial innovations in agriculture.

It is worth noting that organisers give indications on who should attend the forum:

  1. Financial institutions and commercial banks;

  2. Climate funds

  3. Investors-fund/asset managers

  4. Institutional investors, investment banks, insurers and private equity

  5. Green bonds/debt managers

  6. Private sector innovators

  7. Policy makers, donors, UN agencies;

  8. Civil society, think tanks and academia.

Even if one believes that it is sufficient to invite ‘private innovators’ and ‘civil society’ to be sure to invite a massive participation of farmers and their representative organisations, it is quite evident, once more [read] that the main actors concerned, i.e. agricultural producers, and particularly the more than 500 million family farmers, will be virtually excluded from the debate.

Most probably, in this case as in others [read], farmers - and particularly small farmers that produce more than 70% of our food - are considered by the World Bank more like obstacles to change in the agricultural sector than the main beneficiaries of agricultural development, and this despite the declared objective of the Bank “to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in a sustainable way”.

It is impossible not to see here another example of the attempt of large investors and international finance to take over the food and agriculture sector, which has seen its profitability increase considerably following the 2007/2008 food crisis, making it an increasingly attractive for global finance. A similar evolution can be seen in emergency support and social protection programmes where large finance corporations play a growing role.

The machine is getting ready to crush the agriculture sector, at the cost of making tens of millions of victims in the rural population, in continuation with the land grab and natural resources control movement that regained momentum in the middle of the first decade of the century [read].


To know more:

  1. AgriFin, Financing Low-Carbon Resilient Agriculture, 2017

Earlier articles on related to the topic:

  1. Climate is changing - Food and Agriculture must too, 2016

  2. Climate finance for poor countries: confusion, lack of transparency and probability that commitments made will not be respected, 2016

  3. The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture: a new tool for an enlightened capitalism?, 2014

  4. Large private Foundations: the lost opportunity of the Gates Foundation, 2014

  5. Promoting climate smart agriculture: why be so shy about policies?, 2013

  6. Land: an unequally distributed, threatened but essential resource, 2013

  7. Le dernier rapport de la Banque mondiale sur l’Afrique: à la conquête de la dernière frontière pour les marchés agricoles et alimentaires…, 2013 (in French only)

and all our article under our “Investment” category.


Last update:    July 2017

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