SustainUS plans to send a delegation of 15-20 young people to the annual World Bank Annual Meetings from October 9th-15th 2017 in DC. We will work with partner Civil Society Organizations to push the World Bank Group to change its policies on climate change and equitable distribution of development finance. Currently there is negligible representation of US youth at World Bank meetings. SustainUS has 14 years of experience sending youth delegations to international governance meetings and we are changing that.
Why the World Bank Group?
The World Bank Group (WBG) is made up of five international finance organizations that leverage over $60 billion in loans and aid annually. The stated mission of the WBG is to “end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity in a sustainable way.” Despite their public recognition of climate change as a serious threat to development, the World Bank’s current portfolio includes lucrative fossil fuel projects and limited finance for those living in energy poverty, for whom finance is most difficult to access.
Every fall, the governing body of the World Bank Group holds Annual Meetings to discuss their work on international economic development and finance. The Annual Meetings offer a chance to engage with delegates from 189 member countries as well as the broader general public. Over 10,000 people attend these meetings, including a substantial number of civil society organizations (CSOs) from around the world. The official governing body meetings are October 13th-15th, but many of these meetings are not open to civil society. Instead, from October 9th-13th a series of panels and roundtables are held to engage civil society and press on the bank’s work.
The United States has the most voting power within the World Bank, and US youth have the right and responsibility to hold the World Bank accountable to the future it finances – our future. The World Bank still finances fossil fuel projects and fossil fuel exploration. In addition, only 20% of their energy portfolio is classified as energy access, of which only 20% is for distributed renewables. The World Bank and its leadership have spoken about the urgency of acting on climate change because of the serious impact it will have on low-income countries. However, the Bank continues to fund exploration for more fossil fuels and does not prioritize solutions that will most benefit impacted communities. We do this work with a vision of global justice, aware that the current structure of the World Bank perpetuates power structures that benefit the Global North over the Global South.
SustainUS’s role at this meeting will be to:
(1) shine a spotlight on the inconsistencies between the World Bank’s mission and its actions
(2) build media narratives that make the World Bank and its role combatting climate change understandable to the public
(3) create political cover for other CSOs to demand more ambitious and just action.
The delegation will be made up of 15-20 young people who care about global climate justice and recognize the role that financial institutions can play in promoting or thwarting this vision. In the months leading up to the meetings, the delegation will be provided with information about the WBG’s work and structure, and will be lead through a series of trainings on climate justice and advocacy. In partnership with other CSOs, the delegation will strategize and prepare for action throughout the week of the meetings. Delegation members will have different roles: policy and issue area research, external communications, internal communications, and content creation. Our hope is that members will bring their unique skill sets and experiences to the delegation, whatever they are! During the week of the meetings, the delegation will attend panels and meetings with World Bank Group Officials and CSOs. For descriptions of the panels we got to attend at the spring meetings, look here.
Delegation members will be responsible for covering the cost of their own transportation and housing for the meetings, though SustainUS will assist in providing information on low cost hostels and Airbnbs in the area.