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Unveiling the role of the IMF and the World Bank in the international debt system


ACTION • Ministry of Debt and Exploitation


Debt for Climate Germany organized direct actions in Berlin and Bonn to highlight the neocolonial stranglehold the IMF and the World Bank have over the Global South.

Debt - Germany - IMF - neocolonialism - World Bank

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The global debt system enforces neocolonial oppression and exploitation in the Global South. The IMF and The World Bank play a central role in this system. If we want the Global South to be free from neocolonial oppression, have sovereignty in its own borders and stop the climate crisis and ecological destruction, we must enforce  a complete cancellation of the the Global South’s debt.


Through debt the Global North enforces its own political agenda in the Global South, i.e. extraction of cheap materials and fossil fuels and keeping refugees at bay. Through the servicing of debt, the Global South lacks the resources for a social and ecologically just transition needed to address among others the climate crisis and for other social policies and climate protection measures. According to Debt Justice, 54 countries are now facing a debt crisis. But instead of agreeing to cancel some of the debt, The World Bank and the IMF use debt as political leverage.

On October 12th, International Day of Indigenous Resistance, Debt for Climate Germany managed to place two concrete blocks in front of the Ministry of Finance in Berlin. The larger of the two weighed over a tonne and symbolized the colonial and climate debt of the Global North towards the South, whereas the smaller and lighter one symbolized the financial debt of the South towards the North. Passers-by and the press were able to follow the gradual removal of the two blocks by the police over the next few hours. The incomparably ‘heavier’ weight of the Global North’s mountain of debt in relation to the Global South’s became concretely visible when the police struggled a lot more to remove the heavier block from the site.

The following day, Debt for Climate held two disruptive actions at the two branches of the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Bonn and Berlin. They specifically called out Svenja Schulze, who represents Germany in the World Bank, which was meeting with the IMF in Marrakech at the time of the action. In Berlin, they managed to climb onto the canopy of the ministry building and do a banner drop from there. At the same time, activists on the ground tampered with the ministry’s fence and wrapped it with barbed wire to symbolize “Fortress Europe” and the European Union’s policy of sealing off refugees from the Global South. They demanded debt cancellation and an end to the deadly EU refugee policy. A second banner drop on the ministry in Bonn did not go as planned, but they managed to unroll the banner elsewhere on the premises. The actions were accompanied with press releases and information events detailing how the Global North tramples on the sovereignty of the Global South through debt.

Het Actiefonds is proud to support Debt for Climate Germany.