HIC and 260 organizations from around the world have endorsed Our Land, Our Business campaign, which has organized protests in 10 cities to denounce the World Bank’s business indicators that facilitate land grabbing and dispossession of local communities.
The presence of panelists from various countries included Ibrahim Sidibe (National Coordination of Peasant Organizations – Mali), Ruth Nyambura (African Biodiversity Network – Kenya), Okok Ojulu (Ethiopian activist against land grabbing and violation of Indigenous Peoples rights), Obang Metho (Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia) and Jeff Furman (chair of the Board of Directors of Ben&Jerry’s).
The panel, moderated by Anuradha Mittal (Oakland Institute) and Alnoor Ladha (/The Rules), gave a powerful overview of the impact of the World Bank’s programs and clearly showed that business indicators hamper farmers’ participation in formulation of their countries’ agricultural policies, open national markets to importation of modified seeds and chemical fertilizers, drive land grabbing and dispossess local communities around the world. Several speakers highlighted the major human right violations that are taking place in the name of development in many countries, including Ethiopia. Representative from the private sector Jeff Furman also suggested that, instead of ranking countries, the World Bank start ranking multinational corporations on their business practices. Several Bank officials from the Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA) team and Civil Society team attended the panel and responded to the presentations made by pointing out to a ‘misunderstanding’ about the objectives of their work. They explained that the Bank’s new BBA project aims at helping to feed a growing population and defended their project as being based on thorough field work and consultations with NGOs, private sector, experts and government officials. Several panellists highlighted in response that the Bank’s indicators are based on a vision of agriculture that is against farmers and favour the interests of corporations, and that the Bank needed fundamental changes in their overall approach to development that focuses on foreign investment and result in harm for farmers, herders and indigenous peoples.
The roundtable was followed by a street mobilization at Rawlins Park where speakers from the panel were joined by other activists and performers, including Kymone Freeman of Washington’s We Act Radio, Medha Patkar of the National Alliance of People’s Movement (India), and the Reverend Billy and Stop Shopping Choir. The Reverend and the choir then led a singing march to the front of the World Bank offices, where the Reverend performed the eulogy of the World Bank, a 70 years old institution that “should never have been born.”
A second day of mobilization was organized on Saturday October 11th, to protest theWorld Bank’s dismantling of protections for people and the planet. This powerful rally had a great turnout despite challenging weather and included speakers from many continents (Medha Patkar, Obang Metho, Soumya Doutta, Jesus Vicente Garganera and many others).
United under the World vs Bank slogan, the protests were a success and we hope to maintain the momentum to keep pressuring the World Bank. Please read and share the preliminary list of media articles (below) and keep encouraging individual signatures to the petition and new organizations’endorsement of the campaign’s Joint Statement.
Media articles in English: