International finance

Our work on international finance focuses on “following the money.” We track some of the world’s largest and most powerful financiers to curb harmful financing activities, adopt high environmental and social safeguards, and bankroll ecologically sustainable alternatives.

Eric flashing World Bank cashThe World Bank Group
The World Bank Group aspires to “eradicate global poverty and create sustainable development,” but its projects and policies have often led to the opposite result, with devastating environmental and human rights consequences throughout the world. The World Bank persists in propping up and investing in natural resource-based megaprojects in developing countries -- like big dams and coal mining -- despite displacement of communities, harm to Indigenous Peoples, release of greenhouse gases and other serious negative impacts.

Friends of the Earth is working to make sure that the World Bank -- with its troubling record on the environment, human rights, climate impacts, and development -- cleans up its act as a major climate polluter with a poor development track record.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
The U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation are two taxpayer-supported agencies which support U.S. multinational corporations doing business abroad. Over the last decade these federal agencies have provided tens of billions of dollars in fossil fuel and other harmful projects abroad that worsen climate change, damage the environment, hurt local communities, harm human health, lead to human rights abuses, spawn corruption, increase geopolitical instability and humanitarian disasters, while failing to address the energy needs of the poor. A historic lawsuit filed by Friends of the Earth and, subsequent Congressional action and more recently, President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, have compelled these agencies to adopt better policies to protect global climate, the local environment and human health. However, these policies are now under assault by fossil fuel politicians in Congress.

Wall Street banks and their international counterparts
Friends of the Earth is a founding member of BankTrack, an international NGO advocacy network that advances accountability and sustainability in the international banking sector. In the U.S. we work to strengthen environmental and social financing standards at the leading Wall Street banks; internationally, we support allies in China as they promote environmental responsibility among Chinese banks and corporations.

Green Bonds
A “green bond” is functionally like any other bond issued by governments, financial institutions or companies. It is a tradable financial instrument that allows the issuer of the bond to borrow funds with a promise to pay back the money (i.e. the principal), usually with interest, by a certain date. The distinction is that green bonds are supposed to raise money for environmentally beneficial purposes only. A “climate bond” is a type of green bond that is specifically supposed to address climate change problems, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.

Depending on how, which and where activities are financed, green bonds can be an important tool to shift private investment from brown to green. To learn more about green bonds, and potential concerns, see:

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