NewsWorld Bank climate funding greens African hotels while fishermen sink

World Bank climate funding greens African hotels while fishermen sink

Climate Home reveals that the World Bank Group has counted support for luxury hotels as climate finance, which experts say fails the most vulnerable

The spotless white-sand beach of Le Lamantin luxury resort in Saly, about 90 kilometres south of Senegal’s capital Dakar, is lined with neat rows of sun loungers and parasols. Here, holidaymakers enjoy jet-skiing, catamaran-sailing and spa therapy, unaware that their hotel is benefiting from international climate finance channelled through the World Bank Group.

Just a few kilometres further south, however, local fishermen in Mbour, the country’s second-largest fishing port, are struggling. The beaches where they keep their boats are being progressively eaten away by rising seas that also threaten their homes.

The stark contrast between the neighbouring coastal areas highlights how global funding for climate projects – largely taxpayers’ money from rich countries – often fails to help those shouldering the burden of warming impacts, especially when it is being used to mobilise more private investment for green aims.

“They prioritise Saly because the hotels are wealthy,” said Saliou Diouf, a retired fisherman who lost his house in Mbour to encroaching waves. “The World Bank should help the most vulnerable.” 

Le Lamantin is one of a dozen upscale hotels in sub-Saharan Africa acquired by Mauritius-based Kasada Hospitality Fund LP – run by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and multinational hotel giant Accor – which it is revamping in accordance with EDGE, a green building certification created by the World Bank.

Kasada was granted over $190 million in guarantees by the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and loans of up to $160 million by its private-sector lender, the International Finance Corporation, to help it snap up hotels across Kenya, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Namibia and Senegal, and spruce them up as Accor brands like Mövenpick.

A bar surrounded by villas at Le Lamantin hotel in Senegal.

The Mövenpick Resort Lamantin Saly, where a standard hotel room costs about £220 a night. (Photo: Jack Thompson)

MIGA, the little-known insurance arm of the World Bank Group, has counted its backing for the hotels as part of its climate efforts for the past three years, according to annual sustainability reports.

The five-star resort in Senegal, where rooms cost at least £220 a night ($270), is being refurbished to consume at least 20% less energy and water than other comparable buildings by its owner Kasada, which expects it to obtain EDGE certification this year.

Teresa Anderson, global lead on climate justice for ActionAid International, told Climate Home it is “shocking that what little funds there are for climate action are benefiting luxury hotels”.

“Climate finance must be used to help those most vulnerable – not to help the world’s wealthiest add a climate hashtag to their Instagram posts by the pool,” she said.

MIGA told Climate Home its support for Kasada is primarily aimed at developing Senegal’s tourism sector and creating jobs, adding that refurbishing hotels can also have beneficial climate impacts and play an important role in decarbonising the hospitality industry.

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