Public development banks have no business financing agribusinessOctober 29, 2021
We’re calling on public development banks to stop funding agribusiness companies that take land, natural resources and livelihoods away from local communities.
Public development banks—overseeing large sums of public funds—have a long track record of making investments in agriculture that benefit private interests and agribusiness corporations. These entities profit at the expense of farmers, herders, fishers, food workers and Indigenous Peoples, and undermine their food sovereignty, ecosystems and human rights. That’s why hundreds of groups from around the world assert that public development banks have no business financing agribusiness.
What is a public development bank (PDB)?
PDBs are public institutions established by national governments or multilateral agencies to finance government programs and private companies whose activities are said to contribute to the improvement of people’s lives in the places where they operate, particularly in the Global South.
As public institutions, PDBs are bound to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and are supposed to be accountable to the public for their actions. Today, development banks collectively spend more than $2 trillion USD a year financing public and private companies to build roads, power plants, factory farms, agribusiness plantations and more in the name of “development,” with an estimated $1.4 trillion USD going into the agriculture and food sector. Much of their spending is backed and financed by the public – by people’s labour and taxes.
(This definition is courtesy of GRAIN.)
Public development banks have no business financing agribusiness
But the agribusiness projects funded through public development banks have time and again done the opposite of improving people’s lives in the places where they operate. You can find a long list of examples from GRAIN, from financing a failed and destructive sugarcane plantation in Sierra Leone to resourcing the expansion of intensive pig and poultry production in Ecuador despite international and local opposition—including from Indigenous communities whose water and lands have been polluted by the company’s operations.
Hundreds of organizations from around the world have signed a letter calling for an immediate end to the financing of corporate agribusiness operations by public development banks.
SeedChange is pleased to sign this letter along with 280 groups from 70 countries. We affirm that:
“We do not want any more of our public money, public mandates and public resources to be wasted on agribusiness companies that take land, natural resources and livelihoods away from local communities. Therefore:
- We call for an immediate end to the financing of corporate agribusiness operations and speculative investments by public development banks.
- We call for the creation of fully public and accountable funding mechanisms that support peoples’ efforts to build food sovereignty, realize the human right to food, protect and restore ecosystems, and address the climate emergency.
- We call for the implementation of strong and effective mechanisms that provide communities with access to justice in case of adverse human rights impacts of social and environmental damages caused by PDB investments.”