Rethinking development finance: a review of the Finance in Common Summit

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, March 30, 2021

In November 2020, for the first time ever over 450 public development banks (PDBs) came together for the Finance in Common Summit to discuss their post-COVID19 recovery plans. Hosted by France, the Summit took place amid deepening public health, political, social,economic and environmental crises. ESCR-Net members and allies raised alarm over the Summit’s initial total disregard of human rights, as well as its failure to meaningfully include the participation of impacted communities, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations in the main events and critical decision making. 

Guided by members of the Economic Policy Working Group, ESCR-Net partnered with the Coalition for Human Rights in Development (CHRD) to mobilize pressure on the Summit organizers, demanding the inclusion of human rights and robust participation of indigenous peoples and other resisting communities in discussions and decisions with profound impacts on their lives. This would entail a paradigm shift in the way banks operate, becoming much more transparent and democratic, embracing formal and substantive equality, and prioritizing common public good over vested corporate interests. In an opinion piece prior to the Summit, a cross-regional group of ESCR-Net members called on public development banks to interrogate their practices and “reimagine development finance” as  part of just, equitable and sustainable recovery initiatives, concluding: “This is a matter of political will – of governments and public development banks that already have the responsibility to eradicate poverty, not intensify it. The question is not whether our economies can afford to change, but whether the earth and humanity can afford the status quo.”

ESCR-Net helped to coordinate a series of advocacy interventions which prompted a brief but unsatisfactory  mention in the final joint declaration of the Summit,t that “particular attention will be paid to community-led development and the respect of the rights of indigenous people,” as well as reference to women’s rights and related human rights principles like transparency, equality and social inclusion.  

A promising outcome of this advocacy was the consolidation of a more coordinated group of movements and civil society organizations, shaping common demands for a transformed financial system.

Building on this advocacy at the Finance in Common Summit and demands articulated in ESCR-Net’s Global Call to Action in response to COVID-19, members of the Economic Policy Working Group will be intervening in the upcoming 2021 World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings (22 March -11 April 2021).