focus on bankwatch
introducing... tomasz terlecki
tackling international financial institutions
As the Executive Director I am responsible for numerous tasks, chief among them fundraising, financial management, overall management of the organization, relationships with donors, outside world and member organizations.
What brings me into what I am doing? Back in the late 80s when I started to be involved with the environmental movement, I realised that many projects would not happen or would happen differently, for example with less damage to environment, if someone targeted the money sources for these investments. Quickly, I realized that in a large number of cases these money sources were the publicly owned institutions like the World Bank, especially in the case of large infrastructure investments and places like rapidly-developing Poland . From this, it was only one more step to realize that there are many people and places in the world with exactly the same problem.
Bankwatch is an international environmental organisation, whose mission is to prevent the environmentally and socially harmful impacts of international development finance, and to promote alternative solutions and public participation. We are a regional network focusing almost entirely on the former communist states of central and eastern Europe, but with links to many NGOs all over the world. One of our most important links is the strategic partnership with the Friends of the Earth network. We are an affiliated member of Friends of the Earth International and every year run a number of activities both with Friends of the Earth International and Friends of the Earth Europe. Many of our members are also members of Friends of the Earth.
Our primary targets are the publicly owned international financial institutions such as the World Bank or the European Investment Bank, as well as other large public money flows such as EU financial aid, specifically pre-accession, cohesion and structural funds. On an ongoing basis we run a number of local and international campaigns targeting specific projects with adverse environmental and/or social effects which are financed from these sources. Based on the network's knowledge and experience gained running these campaigns, we also undertake advocacy activities aimed at a number of these institutions. These activities are geared towards achieving policy changes that will limit the negative impacts on these countries.
Our key strengths are our close links with local NGOs all over the region, the respect we have garnered over the years from most of the institutions that we target and an excellent staff, well trained and committed to what they are doing.
recent successful Bankwatch campaigns
Ukraine: Bankwatch managed to build a global coalition of NGOs to stop the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development financing the development of the K2R4 project to complete two nuclear reactors in Ukraine. The campaign started in 1999 and still continues. Find out more.
Bulgaria: This is an excellent example of how an international organisation like Bankwatch can effectively work with the local population. Together we opposed a major motorway construction project through Kresna Gorge. This construction would destroy a unique nature site and would have serious adverse social impacts. Bankwatch is helping to bring this issue to the attention of the highest decision-makers in the European Commission, European Parliament and other institutions of the Union. Find out more .
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is a multibillion dollar project to construct an oil and a gas pipeline in one of the most politically unstable regions of the world, with a great number of environmental, social and human rights threats. Bankwatch is a leading organisation in, again, a worldwide coalition of NGOs campaigning to make the project beneficial to local communities and as environmentally sustainable as possible. Find out more .
successful advocacy work
EU financial Aid: This is one of the most challenging aspects of our work. We started in 1999 in cooperation with Bankwatch member groups in 8 accession countries. We focus on monitoring implementation on the ground and carry out advocacy activities in Brussels . Our most important partner in this work is the Friends of the Earth Europe office in Brussels. Find out more.
European Investment Bank: This is campaign has been running since 1995. It aims to open up to public scrutiny the secretive European Investment Bank, the largest publicly owned international bank in the world. The campaign started in our region but currently we lead a broader coalition of European NGOs. Due to our expertise and knowledge we have been approached by groups from Africa , Latin America or Asia for help with campaigns on European Investment Bank funded projects. Find out more.
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: We have been lobbying for the creation of the independent recourse mechanism in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development based in London . With this tool, citizens who are directly affected by projects financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development would be able to complain to the bank and be heard. Find out more.
supporting civil society
We are also very active in supporting the development of civil society in the region. One of the most important initiatives we have launched recently is the capacity building project we are implementing with Friends of the Earth Europe. Every year Bankwatch organises and runs a number of training programs for NGOs all over the region, from Macedonia to Uzbekistan . We also actively support a range of campaigns by sharing our resources with local NGOs or helping them with fundraising.
Our Active Bankwatchers initiative started in 2002 and gives concerned citizens the opportunity to take direct action in support of our campaigns. Regular alerts allow Active Bankwatchers to lobby the key decision-makers on controversial projects via emails, faxes and letters. The directors of the various public finance institutions or European Commissioners may at times believe or act as if they are operating in a vacuum. Active Bankwatchers serves as a regular reminder to them that ordinary people are watching what they do – very closely.