The times are changing, and we as campaigners need to change with them.
For more than two decades Bankwatch has been advocating to stop public money being used for harmful infrastructure projects in central and eastern Europe, focusing its work on the European public financial institutions.
But in recent years, other financing sources have started to become more prominent in environmentally harmful infrastructure in the Western Balkans, especially Chinese banks, which are active especially in coal and large hydropower, but also in construction of motorways and other infrastructure. Other financing sources such as Japanese or Czech development banks are also taking an interest in the region.
Meanwhile in Turkey the government has plans to construct a huge number of new coal plants, which entails financing from a wide range of sources.
Many of the new coal plants being planned in the Western Balkans and Turkey would not be able to be built in the EU today. This brings enormous risks for projects in countries which aspire to join the EU and we have to find a way to communicate this not only to governments but also to investors. The objective of this toolkit is to show that there are potential ways to contact such investors and to advocate for them to avoid harmful projects. Here we focus on coal, as one of the most widespread and immediate threats in the region, but much of the advice would also be relevant for other sectors.
The toolkit gives practical guidance on what kind of standards the financing institutions have committed to, how to contact them in a culturally appropriate way, and handy tips to avoid mistakes. No-one says it’s easy and the point is not to give up on traditional campaigning methods and targets, but why not open the door to new possibilities? Perhaps you’ll be pleasantly surprised.