Financing for development

Emerging and developing countries frequently turn to financial institutions that finance development, such as national and multilateral development banks and export credit guarantee agencies, to raise the funds necessary to invest in long-term projects that are considered essential for development.

Despite their predominantly public nature, development financing agencies still do not have operating policies and mechanisms in place that are compatible with the highest standards of human rights protection, which represents a shortfall in the governance of contemporary development strategies.

The activities and projects undertaken in the name of economic development can severely impact human rights, especially in vulnerable communities and groups, such as indigenous and traditional peoples and ethnic minorities. Moreover, financing by development institutions can positively or negatively impact climate change, depending on the allocation of resources in sectors with higher or lower pollution levels.

Conectas believes that the fundamental goal of all development financing institutions should be the pursuit of sustainable development that is inclusive and grounded in the protection of human rights. These institutions ought to make a public commitment to protecting the human rights guaranteed by international and national standards and also require that their borrowers do not violate the human rights of others nor impose on society the negative effects of their activities.

Conectas conducts monitoring and advocacy activities that are aimed at raising the accountability of institutions that finance development and at promoting reforms in the institutional and regulatory framework that governs the actions of these organizations.

Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES)

Since 2013, Conectas has been developing research and advocacy activities aimed at mitigating the shortfall in transparency at the BNDES and making its environmental and social operating safeguards more robust.

Conectas proposes that the BNDES, a federal public company that operates mostly with public funds, should:

  • adopt a Human Rights Policy that covers all the rights guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, the international treaties ratified by Brazil and other international human rights standards;
  • conduct human rights impact assessments in of all its operations, including securities market transactions and environmental and social funds;
  • make changes to the workings of its Ombudsman’s Office, allowing it to hear grievances and complaints from victims and affected parties through clear, transparent and democratic procedures;
  • be more transparent in the disclosure of institutional information and data produced throughout the cycle of the project, and establish institutionalized forums for civil society participation in the allocation of the public funds handled by the bank.

New Development Bank (NDB)

The New Development Bank was created in 2015 by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to finance infrastructure projects in emerging and developing nations. Between 2017 and 2021, the bank will be in the implementation stage of its strategy.

Conectas has been closely following the political and institutional processes involved in the implementation of the NDB in order to assure that the bank’s commitment to human rights is in place from the very first loan payment. Together with its partners, Conectas has also been working to offer recommendations to define criteria for assessing the sustainability of projects financed by the bank.

Coalition for Human Rights in Development

Conectas serves on the Steering Committee of the ‘Coalition for Human Rights in Development‘, a coalition of civil society organizations, social movements and local communities that have come together with the goal of guaranteeing that all development financing institutions respect, protect and promote human rights in all their operations and business dealings.

Through partnerships with member organizations of the coalition, Conectas intends to step up its actions aimed at integrating human rights into the policies and practices of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), among others, in addition to monitoring the activities of national development banks.

Working Group on Finances of Rebrip (Brazil Network for the Integration of Peoples)

Conectas coordinates the Working Group on Finances/Rebrip. The Working Group on Finances/Rebrip aims to mobilize and empower civil society organizations and social movements on topics related to global economic governance and to increase the transparency, the environmental, social and human rights standards and the accountability of public and private actors in the context of i) financing for development, and ii) trade and investment agreements.

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