1. World Bank and IMF Covid-19 response:
Covid-19 crisis: IMF told countries facing critical health worker shortages to cut public sector wages
ActionAid & Public Services International, June 2020
New analysis revealed how IMF austerity policies restricted critical public employment in the lead up to the Covid-19 crisis, demonstrating that every single low income country which received IMF advice to cut or freeze public employment in the past three years had already been identified by the World Health Organisation as facing a critical health worker shortage.
The World Bank’s response to COVID-19
Jubilee Australia Research Centre
This paper examines the consequences of World Bank long-term health programming on the ability of Indonesia and Sri Lanka to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. It finds that the Bank has pushed private care solutions that have damaged health systems. The paper makes several recommendations, including: A call for an end to IFC (the World Bank’s private lending arm) investment in private health care; detailed monitoring and surveillance of new World Bank loans made to the health care sector; and a broader and more robust policy response to sovereign debt in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
A Virus of Austerity? The Covid-19 spending, accountability, and recovery measures agreed between the IMF and your government
Oxfam International, October 2020
Oxfam compiled data from 91 IMF Covid-19 loans for 81 countries approved in 2020 to understand what commitments governments made to the IMF to receive emergency financing and what policies the IMF prescribed to tackle the crisis. The dataset found that the IMF promoted fiscal consolidation measures in 84 per cent of loans, across 67 countries.
Arrested Development: International Monetary Fund lending and austerity post Covid-19
Eurodad, October 2020
A Eurodad-led review that revealed the insufficient and inadequate multilateral response to the Covid-19 pandemic on the part of the IMF, locking a large number of countries into a decade-long crisis of debt and austerity.
The Pandemic and the Public Sector
ActionAid, October 2020
This report looked at how the Covid-19 crises have affected IMF policy advice with a particular focus on constraints on wage bills for providers of public services.
Warning: May Contain Austerity – How the international response to Covid-19 threatens a return to austerity measures that undermine women’s rights
Gender and Development Network, December 2020
This briefing examined the response of the IMF to Covid-19, warned of the dangers this response is creating to women’s rights and suggested that there are viable alternatives.
From growth optimism to a lost development decade: The dangerous role of the IMF in the crisis of the Global South
Erlassjahr, December 2020
This report assesses whether the IMF’s current assumptions concerning short-term economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in developing countries and emerging economies is probable and sets out the problematic role of over-optimistic forecasts in current debates on debt relief.
Human Rights and the IMF’s Covid response
Center for Economic and Social Rights, December 2020
This briefing set out that the IMF is playing a major role in shaping economic and public health responses to the pandemic and that its actions so far are not conducive to a rights-based recovery. It explained that both member governments and the IMF itself have a range of human rights obligations, including at the international level, that require them to support large-scale, equitable relief efforts and that there are a range of measures the IMF can take in line with their human rights obligations.
Gambling with our lives: confronting global health and climate emergencies in the age of financialisation
Christian Aid, Debt Observatory in Globalisation et al, November 2020
The report looks at how rising inequalities, economic instability and vulnerabilities to climate and health shocks have been driven and reproduced by skewed policy choices and unfair rules of the game, often dictated by private financial interests instead of guided towards the wellbeing of the general population.
From catastrophe to catalyst
Oxfam, December 2020
Oxfam analysed the World Bank’s emergency health funding to 71 countries in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The report finds that the World Bank has missed vital opportunities to strengthen public health systems so they can tackle COVID-19 improve access to health for all. The report found that 89% of World Bank projects do not plan to support any action to remove financial barriers, including user fees, that exclude millions from life-saving care; and two-thirds lack any plans to increase the number of healthcare workers. Oxfam argues that “an urgent course correction is needed to help countries effectively fight the pandemic and build fairer, more resilient universal healthcare systems.”
2. Global financial architecture
Out of service: How public services and human rights are being threatened by the growing debt crisis
Eurodad, February 2020
This report set out that public services play a critical role in advancing human rights and fighting inequality, yet, growing levels of external public debt, especially in the global south, threaten the very services on which citizens depend in order to have even a basic standard of living.
Rethinking the global financial system for gender-equal economies
Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy, July 2020
This paper highlights what policies and global governance structures are hindering the realisation of gender-equal economies and provides recommendations to the UK government on how to address these as the hub of the world’s leading financial centre.
Trade and Development Report 2020 – from global pandemic to prosperity for all: Avoiding another lost decade
UNCTAD, September 2020
This UNCTAD report argues that the world needs a global recovery plan that tackles a series of pre-existing conditions that were threatening the health of the global economy before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. It makes the case for a big public investment push with effective international support and coordination, warning for a ‘lost decade’ if countries adopt austerity.
Tax Justice for the social protection of women
Latindadd, October 2020
This report addressed gender gaps and inequalities in the coverage of social protection systems in Latin America, identifying that social protection systems are still conceived from an androcentric approach and that regressive tax systems and tax evasion and avoidance are key obstacles to change.
Gambling with our Lives: Confronting global health and climate emergencies in the age of financialisation
Citizens for Financial Justice, November 2020
This report exposed the impact of our over-reliance on the private financial sector to solve two of the most urgent emergencies of our time – the health and climate crises. It argues that the root cause of these crises is an unsustainable development model driven by skewed policy choices and unfair rules of the game, often dictated by private financial interests before those of people and the planet.
International public finance and COVID-19: A new architecture is urgently needed
Celine Tan, University of Warwick. EIL Collective, April 2020
The article demonstrates the urgent need for a radical change in the international public financial architecture, highlighting that the pandemic has exposed the deep structural flaws of the current system, which “remains deeply rooted within the postcolonial rationalities that shaped the emergence of these institutions in the immediate postwar era.” Additionally, the article stresses that “creeping ‘bilateralism’ or ‘Trojan multilateralism’ in the constitution of international institutions responsible for financing global public goods have resulted in the widespread embedding of bilateral and, in some cases, private, objectives and interests into multilateral institutions and development programmes extended to the global south.”
Drop it: Covid, inequality and debt
Jubilee Debt Campaign, Winter 2020
An explainer on explores the relationship between Covid-19, debt and inequality.
Market fundamentalism and the World Bank Group: From Structural Adjustment Programmes to Maximizing Finance for Development and beyond
International Trade Union Confederation. May 2020
This report highlights that the World Bank’s Maximising Finance for Development approach, which privileges the interest of the private sector over the public interest, shares many elemental characteristics with the much-criticised Structural Adjustment Programmes. It stresses that contrary to the World Bank’s narrative, progressive, just and ecologically sustainable alternatives exist.
3. Climate and environment:
Five Years Lost: How finance is blowing the Paris Carbon budget
Urgewald et al. December 2020
A joint report between 18 NGOs showcasing 12 of the most devastating fossil fuel projects that are currently planned or under development and exposing the banks and investors that are providing financing to the fossil fuel companies
Public bank ClimateTracker matrix
E3G. November 2020
Interactive tool below to find out how the most well-known public banks, including Multilateral Development Banks such as the World Bank, are mainstreaming climate change into their work.
Raising the cost of climate action? Investor-state dispute settlement and compensation for stranded fossil fuel assets
International Institute for Environment and Development. Oct 2020
This report develops a framework for assessing the extent to which energy transition measures could result in ISDS claims; explores the extent to which treaties with ISDS protect foreign-owned coal plants worldwide; and provides policy recommendations to help states preserve their ability to facilitate the low-carbon energy transition.
The World Bank failing Nigeria on climate goals and energy access. Recourse, Swedish Society for nature conservation
ACSEA. June 2020
Report finding that the World Bank’s energy sector assistance in Nigeria undermines the Paris Climate Agreement goals and falls considerably short in what is necessary to meet Nigeria’s energy access goals.
Still Digging: G20 Governments continue to finance the climate crisis. Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth International
This report shows that without a dramatic departure from recent trends, these recovery packages are likely to spur another crisis.
‘Distributed funds for distributed renewable energy: Ensuring African energy access finance reaches local actors’
Oil Change International, July 2020
This briefing outlines three new areas of recommendations for how these institutions can support the growth of locally owned distributed renewable energy initiatives.
Eskom transformed: Achieving a just energy transition for South Africa
Eskom Research Reference Group
This report presents the case for a modern national power utility – a New Eskom. Unfortunately, in the public discourse around energy in South Africa, the word ‘Eskom’ has become an expletive. To suggest that a reformed public utility can and must play a new and expanded role in shaping the country’s energy future as it transitions from coal, sounds ludicrous. But this is exactly what the situation demands and this report explains why.
4. Human rights
Unmet Gender Promises: Making IFI policies and projects deliver on gender equal rights
Gender Action, October 2020
This report demonstrates that projects funded by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) often undermine the livelihoods and health of women, men, and sexual minorities (SGMs). One major reason is that the IFIs’ decades-long paradigm, starkly exposed by today’s COVID-19 pandemic, has imposed austere public social spending cutbacks and privatization of services and infrastructure, which have ultimately benefited corporations more than poor women and men whose lives IFIs claim to improve.
Failing to reach the poorest?: Assessment of the World Bank funded Uganda reproductive health voucher project
Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, August 2020
The report assesses the Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher Project from a human rights perspective. This research follows up on initial research conducted in 2018 and early 2019 on Public Private Partnerships in Health which featured this voucher program.
Undermining Mongolia: Corporate hold over development trajectory
SOMO and Oyu Tolgoi Watch, February 2020
The research uses the case of the You Tolgoi mine in Mongolia to demonstrate how the IMF and World Bank supported corporate over the public interest and welfare and contributed to an arrangement that locked Mongolia into an expensive and highly extractive agreement with the mine’s corporate owners.
Repeat Prescription: The impact of the World Bank’s Private Sector Diagnostic Tools on developing countries
Eurodad, March 2020
This report details how the World Bank, jointly with the International Finance Corporation (the World Bank’s private sector investment arm), use its Country Private Sector Diagnostic (CPSD) tool to influence development policy at the country level and to promote a private-sector first development approach.
Extraction casino: Mining companies gambling with Latin American lives and sovereignty through supranational arbitration
Mining Watch Canada, Institute for Policy Studies and CIEL. May 2020
This report analyses 38 cases filed by international mining corporations against Latin American governments using the investor-state dispute settlement system, many of which are arbitrated at the World Bank-hosted International Center for for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The report highlights the magnitude of the problem in the region and focuses on the nefarious impacts of the suits (or threat of suits) on already marginalised indigenous communities.
‘The urgency of fiscal justice’, Bhumika Muchhala, Third World Network, October 2020
This article argues that a wave of austerity threatens the Right to Development for the Global South
‘Propping up bondholders and letting Down the global poor‘, Daniela Gabor, Jacobin, October 2020
Gabor says that international financial institutions and G20 countries have constructed a partnership to benefit private finance at the expense of the citizens in poor countries. She calls for a radically different development model.
‘Are the World Bank’s investments in Argentina aligned with its climate change commitments?’
Bank Information Center and FARN. September 2020
This article is based on analysis of the World Bank Group’s investments in the energy sector in Argentina reveals concerning levels of continued investment in fossil fuels.
‘World Bank involved in conflict of interest cases in Mozambique LNG development’
Since 2011, the World Bank has provided budget support and technical assistance operations involving measures aimed at developing Mozambique’s vast offshore gas reserves. A recent letter from international NGOs, co-singed by Urgewald, calls for oil majors to stop ravaging Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region for its gas reserves.
‘Unsolicited Bids in Power Projects: The Role of Multilateral Development Banks’
Center for Global Development, July 2020
Multilateral development banks including the World Bank Group are providing finance to deals in power projects done wrong.
‘Exxon’s gas flaring is latest sign that oil may turn Guyana from carbon sink to carbon bomb’, Center for International Environmental Law, May 2020
As ExxonMobil holds its 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders today, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) calls on the company to stop flaring gas offshore in Guyana, the site of its biggest oil development outside the U.S. Permian Basin.
‘World Bank accused over ExxonMobil plans to tap Guyana oil rush’, The Guardian, March 2020
This article examines the World Bank’s role in paying for Guyana’s oil laws to be rewritten by a legal firm that has regularly worked for ExxonMobil.
‘In Aid of Who?’ Global Witness, February 2020
An analysis of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), which is using aid money to finance climate change around the world.
‘Special Drawing Rights: International Monetary support for developing countries in times of the Covid-19 crisis’, Kevin Gallagher, José Antonio Ocampo and Ulrich Volz, The Economists’ Voice, August 2020
This article argues that a major issuance of special drawing rights through the IMF would be a key tool to provide financial support to developing and emerging economies and limit the economic and financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.
‘Complicity of International Financial Institutions in violation of human rights in the context of economic reforms’, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, October 2020
Former UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights demostrates that there is a solid legal basis to make the case for a prima facie inconsistency between the imposition of austerity policies in times of recession and the enjoyment of human rights, and that international financial institutions may be held responsible for complicity in the imposition of economic reforms that violate human rights.
‘Assessing the gender-sensitivity of International Financial Institutions’ responses to Covid-19: Reflections from home (with kids) in lockdown’, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky & Mariana Rulli, Feminist Legal Studies, November 2020
This article reflects on how the financial responses of international financial institutions to Covid-19 seem to continue promoting androcentric economic policies. It concluded that ex ante human rights and gender impact assessments of multilateral loans’ conditionalities should be conducted and that women’s participation in this process is crucial.
‘The economics of the democratic deficit: The effect of IMF programs on inequality’, Valentin Lang, The Review of International Organizations, December 2020
Through a new empirical strategy, Lang presents how IMF programmes increase income inequality, driven by absolute income losses for the poor, rather than income gains for the rich. The study found this effects persists for up to five years and is stronger when particular policy conditions, such as social-spending cuts and labour-market reforms, are more extensive.
‘The Wall Street Consensus’, Daniela Gabor, SocArXiv, July 2020
This article sets out the consequences of efforts to “reorganise development interventions around partnerships with global finance” by means of the Billions to Trillions agenda and the World Bank’s Maximising Finance for Development approach. The article underscores that the ‘partnership’ is premised on the use of the public sector to de-risk private investment and that the approach “narrows the scope for a green developmental state that could design a just transition to low-carbon economies.”
‘Stop Doing Business’, Jayati Ghosh, International Development Economics Associates. Project Syndicate, September 2020
Ghosh calls for the World Bank to cease the publication of its controversial Ease of Doing Business report in light of recent concerns of potential data irregularities in the reports from 2017 and 2019. The article details long-standing critiques of the publication and stresses that the World Bank should not only stop its publication, but that the “Bank also owes the developing world an apology for all the harm this misleading and problematic tool has already caused.”
‘IFC must implement the recommendations of its external accountability review’, Center for Global Development and Bank Information Center, August 2020.
This blog calls on the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private sector investment arm, and its Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, to fully implement the recommendations of an external review of their accountability mechanisms.
‘Poverty is a choice’, Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic, July 2020
The article presents a critique of the World Bank’s assertions about progress made in the eradication of extreme poverty. The article cites the former UN special rapporteur on poverty and human rights, who has argued that the World Bank’s $1.90 per day extreme poverty line is exceedingly low, noting that half of the world’s population live on less than $5.50 per day – which is a more accurate measure of the resources need for a dignified life. The article presents a compelling case that the use of the $1.90 figure has allowed the World Bank and others to triumphantly argue that the current system is working well and to oppose the urgently required changes.
OPEN LETTERS AND BRIEFINGS TO OFFICIALS
Letter to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on women’s rights and gender equality
This letter was sent to IMF Managing Director in February by 67 civil society organisations working for gender equality and women’s rights, urging Georgieva to address the ways in which the IMF’s conventions policy advice can adversely impact gender equality and women’s rights.
Civil Society background briefing: The IMF response to Covid-19
This civil society background briefing to the IMF Executive Board in April 2020 was presented during the 2020 IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings and covered fiscal interventions, debt relief, capital accounts, financial stability and financial regulation issues.
Open letter calling on the IMF to immediately stop promoting austerity in its Covid-19 response
This open letter signed by over 500 civil society organisations and academics calls attention to the IMF already prescribing austerity measures to countries in their Covid-19 response, insisting that it is critical to create fiscal space and give governments the time, flexibility and support to achieve a sustainable, inclusive and just recovery.
Open letter calling for immediate debt cancellation to help lower-income countries fight Covid-19
This open letter signed by over 500 civil society organisations from 96 countries sounds the #debtalarm and calls on world leaders attending the IMF and World Bank 2020 Annual Meetings, along with the G20 Finance Ministers Meeting, to cancel debts, including those owed to private creditors.
Call for ISDS moratorium during COVID-19 crisis and response
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Columbia University, May 2020
The open letter calls for an immediate moratorium on all state-investor-cases, many of which are held at the World Bank-hosted International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and a permanent restriction on all claims relating to state efforts to respond to the health, social and economic consequences of the pandemic. It stresses that failure to do so would likely constrain urgent state response.
Feminist Finance: A brief for the finance in common summit (FiC)
Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), Heinrich Böll Stiftung Washington D.C., and Equidad de Genero: Ciudadania, Trabajo y Familia, November 2020.
The brief outlines some key information about the Finance in Common Summit, held from November 9 -12 2020, and important recommendations around a feminist approaches to finance.
Finance in Common Summits misses opportunity to end fossil fuel finance, but there is a way forward, say CSOs
Oil Change International, et al. November 2020
Civil society statement in response to the joint declaration at the first global summit of development banks, the Finance in Common Summit.
Statement by Global Unions to the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank
Global unions, September 2020
Statement calling on the World Bank and IMF to support recovery through public investment for quality jobs, not more harmful austerity
CARBON BOMB – ‘Exxon, the World Bank, and One of the Biggest Oil Discoveries of our Time’, Urgewald. October 2020
‘Fondo: the IMF’s recipe for disaster‘, Alejandro Bercovich, July 2020.
A film about the Argentina debt crisis