Climate finance dispute prompts Bangladesh to return £13m of UK aid

Source: the guardian.

Delivery of money through multi-donor fund coordinated by World Bank seen as slight on innate expertise of country well versed in handling climate issues.

Millions of pounds of climate change aid to Bangladesh has been returned unspent to the British government following a long-running dispute over its delivery.

Academics and climate change experts claim the return of £13m to the Department for International Development (DfID) over the past year, through the World Bank, represents a failure by the UK to recognise Bangladesh – one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries – as an expert on the issue.

Villagers walk on a dried-up river bed in Satkhira, Bangladesh, in 2015. Photograph: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury / Barcro

A spokesman for the Bangladeshi high commission in London suggested relations between the World Bank and the government had soured after the bank pulled out of a £764m project to build Bangladesh’s largest bridge, the Padma Bridge project, citing corruption concerns.

He said: “There were issues over the World Bank over accusations they were making. There are a few issues that the prime minister is very strict about – like there should not be strings attached [to aid]. The PM feels very strongly that we will only take deals that will help. We are becoming stronger in our dealing with the international community.”

In a statement, the World Bank confirmed the BCCRF had been closed down after a joint decision by donors and the bank.

“[The unspent money] could not be spent on activities by a December 2016 deadline,” said the statement. “This money was refunded back to the donors because they wanted to use it for other purposes and asked for refunds. The refund process for all donors is almost complete.

“The government of Bangladesh chaired the management committee running BCCRF and decisions on projects were made by this committee and not the donors alone. The fund was approving projects that passed certain basic criteria/standards and approved by the government of Bangladesh. Projects that were not considered well-designed by the management committee did not get approved.

“Following a review of BCCRF, the donors and the bank jointly decided not to extend the trusteeship, and communicated the desire for strategic planning for a pipeline of climate financed projects.”

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