UK's climate pledge to World Bank keeps countries locked in debt

17 April 2024

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UK's £100 million climate pledge to the World Bank will only keep Global South countries locked into vicious debt traps.

Responding to Andrew Mitchell’s £100m pledge to the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) lending arm at the Spring Meetings, Zahra Hdidou, Senior Climate and Resilience Adviser at ActionAid UK, said: 

"The UK's pledge to the IBRD while welcome only serves to keep countries locked in a vicious debt trap and in hock to an undemocratic and colonial international financial system for years to come. 

"Last year our own research found that a staggering 93% of countries most affected by climate change are at significant risk of debt distress - debt that prevents countries from growing climate-resilient, sustainable economies and plunges women and girls further into poverty. With climate catastrophes worsening with each passing year, now is not the time to pass the buck and saddle countries with conditional loans that will never be paid or to double count humanitarian aid as climate finance. And when in some instances it’s been shown that these loans aren’t going directly to affected communities but to ‘green hotel projects’ can we even trust the World Bank as an honest broker in the first place? 

"Instead, we are urging major polluters like the UK to radically rethink the way it provides climate finance to countries on the frontline of the climate crisis without strings attached It's high time for the most climate-vulnerable countries to have their debt cancelled so that they can break free of this harmful cycle and build more sustainable, climate-resilient futures." 

Zahra Hdidou is available for interview on request. Contact the ActionAid press office on or on 07753 973 486.