Multilateral development banks and bilateral donors and their responsibility towards excluding tobacco investments and participation
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International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A445
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Background and challenges to implementation:
In 1991, The World Bank, world's largest lender, pledged that it would no longer support tobacco related projects. It was expected that other financial investors would follow, but most did not responded to this call. As a result, several financial institutions continue to invest in tobacco and fuel an epidemic to an unprecedented scale. Using tobacco as a case in point, this review highlights the continuing investment among financial institutions which conform to 'socially responsible investments' and calls for monitoring and reporting such unethical practices. There is a need to harmonise the numerous criteria, principles and voluntary codes that govern socially responsible investing. Monitoring of these can be mutually beneficial for all social sectors.

Intervention or response:
We analyse annual reports of the seven major MDBs (like the World Bank Group, Regional Development Banks, Trade bloc banks etc..) and bilateral donors from 2010 to 2017 and estimate size and nature of investments or board-level participation by or in tobacco industry.

Results and lessons learnt:
Most MDBs and bilateral have state tobacco as an exclusion criteria, yet we find discrepancies in investments, collaborations and partnerships (with financial and non-financial implications) across all donors.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Tobacco control advocates need to monitor the behaviour of MDBs and bilateral that have committed to exclude tobacco from their portfolio. Those MDBs and bilateral donors that still do not support exclusion of tobacco, must be advocated to do so.