In October, ahead of the World Bank and IMF annual meetings in Washington DC, 152 civil society organisations (CSOs), including Rivers Without Borders Mongolia and Colombia’s Consejo Laboral Afrocolombiano, launched the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Global Campaign Manifesto. The manifesto outlined the signatories’ serious concerns with PPPs generally and the World Bank’s presentation of PPPs as a panacea for the world’s social and economic infrastructure financing gap. The manifesto demanded that the Bank, IMF and other multilateral development banks (MDBs), “halt the aggressive promotion and incentivising of PPPs for social and economic infrastructure and publicly recognise the financial and other significant risks that PPPs entail.” The manifesto also urged “all those concerned with justice, equality, sustainability and human rights to resist the encroachment of PPPs and push … for high-quality, publicly-funded, democratically controlled, accountable public services.”
As detailed in Brussels-based CSO Eurodad’s October report, Defusing the ticking time bomb, the manifesto was developed in the context of a strong MDB push for PPPs despite their potential serious negative consequences, such as their higher costs compared to projects financed through public borrowing, their impact on equitable access to public services, and fiscal impact through the creation of hidden contingent liabilities (see Observer Autumn 2015). As noted by Heinrich Böll Foundation’s Nancy Alexander in her blog Beware the Cascade, PPPs form an important pillar of the Bank’s new cascade strategy to de-risk private sector investments in order to support the MDB’s ‘billions to trillions’ aspirations (see Observer Autumn 2017, Summer 2017).