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Regional Working Group on Financing and Infrastructure

The Regional Working Group on Financing and Infrastructure (Grupo Regional sobre Financiamiento e Infraestructura, GREFI) is made up by four civil society organizations from the Latin America and Caribbeanregion (LAC): Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad (AAS) from Colombia; Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales(DAR) from Peru; Fundar, Centro de Análisis e Investigación from Mexico; and the Fundación para el Desarrollo de Políticas Sustentables (FUNDEPS) from Argentina.

Over the last several years we have had the opportunity to work together, connecting our work agendas and identifying a series of common objectives and strategies. Also, in different ways, we all have experience in the monitoring of international financial institutions, the defense of human rights, local case support, work with the regulatory framework on transparency and access to information, as well as environmental regulations. This has allowed us to carry out complementary work and joint actions.

Thus, in the spirit of collaboration and mutual cooperation, and with the aim of strengthening our work and achieving a greater impact, we have decided to create a working group. This is being carried out in such a way as to generate knowledge and affect the processes of international financial institutions and development banks through concrete actions. We believe that by working together with other actors from diverse countries in the region we can contribute to the improvement of transparency and access to information policies, achieving effective participation mechanisms and strengthening social and environmental standards with an effect on local, national and regional processes. Through these actions we aim to propose sustainable alternatives to the financing process in regional development infrastructure.

Our decision to conform the Grupo Regional arose from the intention of having a more strategic and effective manner to address the regions complex financial architecture, which has resources from multiple financial institutions. The initial analysis had the aim of understanding the dynamics and infrastructure focused resource flow of the different actors in the region, and hence to have a better understanding of the context. This analysis can be found in our publication: Overview of Infrastructure Financing in Latin America. What kind of regional context is the New BRICS Bank entering? The document was presented during the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in October 2014 in Washington, D.C. and was discussed in a parallel event during the Conference of the Parties (COP-20) in Lima, Peru in December last year.

This scenario allows us to anticipate and address not only the persistence but also the worsening of existing tensions between the infrastructure projects and: (a) human rights; (b) collective rights of indigenous peoples; (c) respect for the environment; and (d) commitments to sustainable development and climate change. Which means diverse challenges for the Latin American civil society regarding advocacy on at least three levels: (a) with each of the financial institutions; (b) on a regional level and specifically in each of the countries in the region; and (c) locally, as the cases require support in regards to specific projects in the region.

Therefore, we have defined three initial focuses for research, collaboration and advocacy: 1) infrastructure and energy; 2) Chinese investments in the region; and 3) transparency, social and environmental standards in the financial institutions. Based on these focuses we hope to generate knowledge and to work with other organizations in the region.