Development Banks and Climate

Building of the Asian Development Bank

Public development banks invest around USD 2.7 trillion annually, more than 10 percent of the total annual amount invested by all public and private actors. Civil society organizations criticize that far too much of this money still flows into climate-damaging activities, and that development banks and many of their main shareholders are not doing enough to help countries fight climate change.

In 2015, 2017, and 2018, various multilateral development banks (MDBs) pledged to support the goals of the Paris Agreement and to align their investments accordingly. This entails consistency with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, with increasing resilience to the physical impacts of climate change, and with a socially just transition to resilient and decarbonised economies and societies. Since then, MDBs have made important steps towards this goal, for example publishing a joint methodology for Paris alignment. Qualitative improvements and effective implementation are however vitally important to ensure that MDBs can use their investments to support the urgently needed transformation as quickly and as effectively as possible. Many national development banks are also making efforts to make their investments climate-compatible, with widely varying approaches and progress.

In addition, there are calls for fundamental reforms of the international financial system, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the MDBs, to free financial flows for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage at the necessary scale and with respective impact.

The work of Germanwatch on development banks and climate

Germanwatch has been supporting MDBs since 2017 in their efforts to align their investments with the Paris Climate Agreement, together with the NewClimate Institute, the World Resources Institute, and (since January 2023) E3G. We have produced several working papers with recommendations for what the multilateral development banks should consider when designing their frameworks for Paris compatibility.


How the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) can advance the urban transformation
As the decade of implementation gets underway, public development banks need to follow up on their goals and statements of intent with action. The world's fastest growing development bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), plays a critical role in infrastructure investment in Asia, where the bulk of future urban development will take place. The challenges of the mega-trends of urbanization and climate change must be met with consideration for particularly vulnerable populations. To this end, this report provides a method of analysis based on seven principles to strengthen urban transformation in a sustainable and inclusive way.
Two years after the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s multilateral development banks (MDBs) committed to align their financial flows with the landmark climate pact’s goals. Now, four years later, it’s clear that as a group, the MDBs are still a long way away from realizing their commitment throughout their portfolios. While MDBs have focused on aligning direct investments with Paris goals, this effort is not sufficiently ambitious, nor is it complete. They have paid less attention to whether their indirect investments support climate goals. And policy-based loans — a favored instrument during times of crisis — also remain a blind spot.
Aligning the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with the Paris Agreement
At the second Finance in Common (FiC) Summit on 19 and 20 October 2021, 500 public development banks could jointly raise their ambitions to support sustainable development globally. The fastest growing development bank in the world, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), plays a crucial role for infrastructure investments in Asia where the majority of future infrastructure projects will take place. A framework report produced by Germanwatch and collaborating NGOs from Asia analyzes the AIIB’s opportunities to align with the Paris Agreement and suggests ten climate-resilient and pro-poor principles for more sustainable and socially inclusive infrastructure.
Development finance institutions (DFIs) play a key role in aligning financial flows with low-emission, climate-resilient development pathways. Many have committed to support the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In this working paper Germanwatch, the NewClimate Institute and the World Resources Institute take a closer look at financial intermediary lending by DFIs, proposing a phased approach for aligning indirect investments.

The Paris Agreement sets out the ambitious task of aligning all financial flows with its goals to avoid the worst impacts of warming. Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have an important role to play in making this goal a reality.

Six Memos on the Multilateral Development Banks’ Paris Alignment Approach
The Paris Agreement sets out the ambitious task of aligning all financial flows with its goals to avoid the worst impacts of warming. Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have an important role to play in making this goal a reality. Their development mandates, technical expertise, and track record on climate finance mean that MDBs can lead the way by helping developing countries avoid fossil fuel-intensive development pathways, by developing the necessary standards and investment criteria to assess the alignment of investments with the Paris Agreement’s goals, and by helping to mobilise increased volumes of climate finance.