Protestors call on the AIIB to step up their green policy on 12 July. Photos: Nader Ghavami
Protestors from a coalition of NGOs joined forces in Kirchberg on 12 July to protest what they call the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s lack of commitment to its green policy.
From the European Convention Centre, where the AIIB’s annual meeting is taking place over two days, megaphone calls and chants from protestors could be heard during the lunch hour.
Among the protestors was Knud Vöcking of Urgewald, which advocates for the environment and human rights. He has been in close contact with German parliamentarians and government officials to exchange thoughts on pushing a more sustainable agenda.
“Regarding governance structure, this is a very bad bank because the president has immense power within the bank,” Vöcking told Delano. “No other president of any development bank has such power” when it comes to approving high-investment projects.
Vöcking said representatives from the coalition had already met with one of the bank’s executives, with plans to meet European execs from the bank, as well as two of its senior VPS, later in the day.
But, he added, “They are compelled to doing this. At the first annual meeting of the bank, they were closed like an oyster, but now they know they have to adhere to the international standards…and at least to pretend to listen.”
AIIB president weighs in
In the annual meeting opening ceremony, AIIB president Jin Liqun highlighted the importance of the need to be “greener”, from project implementation and operation to infrastructure development.
But he was pressed on this point during a joint press conference held later in the day with Luxembourg finance minister Pierre Gramegna. Asked about the demonstrations and what the very definition of “green” even meant, Liqun said that there was “always room for improvement” and that moving from “high to low to zero carbon economy takes time” but that “the effort has been relentless” from the part of the bank.
For his part, Gramegna added, “The question is very legitimate… Europe is presently working on a set of proposals in the European Commission and it is trying to define the taxonomy for what is green,” both in terms of definition and reporting standards.
But his outlook was positive, “I think we’re going to agree in Europe in the months to come on the definition. And if we manage to do that, it will be a great victory for Europe.”
Jiqun reminded journalists that the bank had only been in existence since 2016. But Vöking says that's not an excuse. “They hired professionals from other banks, so saying they are a new bank and have to learn is silly because all people in senior positions…are seasoned bankers and know what they are doing.”