Insider Insights: A People’s History of the IMF-World Bank

Samantha Suppiah


A discussion between two very different sustainability consultants in response to IBON’s call for contributions for the website resource A People’s History of the IMF-World Bank -

Samantha Suppiah, design strategist for decolonial sustainability and regeneration, POSSIBLE FUTURES
B. Lorraine Smith, former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights, Matereality

This dialogue is presented in response to IBON’s call A people’s history of the IMF-World Bank: Facing 80 years since the Bretton Woods Conference, skimming lightly over heavy complexity such as

  • power structures establishing (and powered by) the colonial/civilisational narrative of “sustainable development” via the IMF-World Bank Group and its ecosystem of actors in the public and private sector
  • professional and personal anecdotes of interacting with the IMF-WBG ecosystem, including the intentional tunnel vision of executives and the co-optation and paralysis of activists and NGOs
  • global financial structures, corporate strategy, ESG as propagandised greenwashing — set up for the purposes of perpetuating extractive capitalism’s systems of violence, oppression and harms
  • development aggression, systemic racism and the quashing of indigenous, peasant and broader Global South perspectives — as powerful, well-practiced and well-resourced barriers to decolonial reparations, justice and sovereignty

Matereality asks three fundamental questions:

What does the entity say its purpose is?
What is the entity’s actual purpose?
What would it look like for the entity to actually serve life?

IBON call for contributions


The Youtube video linked above has English subtitles available, which are automatically translatable into many languages via “Subtitles/CC” video settings.

Auto-translate options accessible via Youtube video (Settings > Subtitles/CC > Auto-translate)


Full Transcript (English)

[Samantha Suppiah]
Lorraine and I are here to kind of discuss a little bit of what we know of the IMF-World Bank ecosystem and the context within which it sits, to our perspectives.

So — Lorraine herself is a sustainability consultant, and has long had interactions with people inside of and kind of adjacent to the IMF-World Bank ecosystem, as well as generally financial markets, etc. and how they work as a sustainability consultant with a lens to — obviously — what she talks about in terms of systems that serve life, versus systems that don’t serve life, and how organisations and corporations are contributing to the problem.

And I think my perspective as, yes, a sustainability consultant, but kind of from a very different point of view, in terms of, I would say, I’m more engaged in the activist discourse, and looking at the NGO industrial complex, but also seeing what is being sort of missed as identifying or understanding the root cause of the power structures that create the environment for such institutions and such hierarchies to arise within our global so-called society.

So — Lorraine, maybe you want to start by giving your experience of the IMF-World Bank ecosystem to a little bit more clarity than what I said.

[B. Lorraine Smith]
Sure, happy to, thanks Sam.

As you noted, I’m coming from the perspective of a sustainability consultant, and I’ll just frame that up with a bit more texture, and land us in a few — let’s say — corporate reception areas, so most of my professional life this century really starting in 2003, I worked with large corporates, so generally Fortune 500 companies across sectors, with their sustainability folks, and of course in 2003, most companies didn’t have corporate sustainability officers, or sort of executive-level sustainability.

Might’ve been more on the marketing / communications side, and then fast forward two decades, and now everybody and their dog has a Chief Sustainability Officer, and an ESG report, and and and.

So I’ve sort of been growing up in the sustainability, um, plantation if you will and I had the good fortune of working with a lot of really, I would say, ambitious teams, so — companies and people really doing their all to make strategic change and have ambitious goals.

That would be on things like climate change, human rights in the supply chain, all the kind of usual suspects of an ESG reporting and strategy agenda.

And — I’ll say just a little bit more about that background and then we’ll go through the revolving door into the reception area of the World Bank.

Firstly, most of my experience is with sort of corporate HQ.

So, although I have been in plantations and factories and sort of on the shop floor, most of where I was involved was in the corporate strategy zone, which I respect is very different than the on-the-ground universe.

So, I had a kind of detached view from a lot of the real corporate impacts.

Having said that, because I worked cross-sectorally and internationally — I’m from Toronto, I’m speaking to you from Montreal, Canada, I lived in New York for quite a while, and most of my work has been with international — or North America headquarters with international operations — in mining, retail, agriculture, energy, and finance, and a few other sectors.

So — that lens offers me two things, that I will land us in the World Bank, and then back over to you Sam.

The first is, when you get in deep into ESG and sustainability reporting, which is where a lot of my work has been in, in the disclosures side, you, especially in large mining or sort of infrastructure sector companies, and global banking, you bump into disclosures and information about the World Bank, IMF, etc., because so many of these disclosures are about huge, multi-million dollar, sometimes billion dollar, projects that have many hands in the sort of underwriting and financing, or debt instrument development, process.

So just as a specific example, when a global bank talks about their green bonds and green finance, they’re talking about debt instruments that often have multiple institutions at the table for that instrument to exist.

So that would be my main exposure to the workings of the World Bank, etc.

The other piece I just wanted to put on the table is, I’m a bit weird, as Sam will know from, you know, compared to my more mainstream sustainability friends. That’s part of why I left the world of mainstream sustainability in late 2021.

And there’s lots more I can say about that, but I mention it here to say — A lot of what I got to do, and made a point of doing, was leaving the boardroom, leaving the traditional workshops and stakeholder development, and wandering off into the field and into the forest and into the factories and talking to anybody who would grant me time and space.

And that has led me to see and understand things a little bit differently in terms of what’s actually going on on the ground in a few regions and supply webs, let’s say, and a few different cultures as well.

[Samantha Suppiah]
Yeah, thank you for the context that you set there Lorraine, I think as well, um, mentioning about the power structures that the IMF-World Bank is — has access to, but also is responsible for perpetuating — I think is a really important part of understanding how entangled it is within the, essentially we are in a corporate world order that has its base in colonialism.

And a lot of the narratives that fuel this entire world of power are rooted very much in the colonial ideas of what would help the world, or what would help the places we had colonised.

And so, for me, this is about a deeper narrative that fuels the power structures that build the IMF-World Bank ecosystem and the ways that it is able to inhabit that space in our global power structures, without challenge, or without substantial challenge to the point where it actually, uh, feels insecure, right, in itself.

And I want to point out these narratives that really permeate our lives.

These are really civilisational narratives that lead to the development of hierarchical power structures and this very patriarchal way — that is not only limited to modern Western civilisation, but I think modern Western civilisation itself — everything is tinged with, and sort of drenched in, colonial narratives.

So, for example, the idea of poverty alleviation versus actually addressing the issue of reparations. Poverty alleviation puts the onus on the people who experience poverty, right, rather than the onus being on the people who are causing the systemic injustice of inequality in our globalised systems of extraction-based capitalism — which includes the extraction from people, so, slave labour, which really is what most of the Global South is experiencing.

And then this concept of sustainable development that was very much formulated by people associated with power structures feeding the IMF-World Bank, and thereafter, how also the IMF-World Bank tries to justify the ways that it requires to take up space in this power structure around “sustainable development” of — well, how can development be sustained by governments if not for entities such as the IMF-World Bank, who helps, sort of, you know, the ones who are experiencing most hardships in terms of government states, to access capital that it needs to be able to do “sustainable development”.

So, there is an enabling kind of force in this, it’s a very sort of fear-based narcissistic approach, simply because the IMF-WB is usually the lender of sort of your last choice, as a state who needs to so-called be able to “develop”.

So this entrapment of the development narrative in itself is kind of developed within this ecosystem, as well as enabled by it, the trap itself. Without again much reference to our globalised understanding of colonisation and its violence and its harms, so — no sense towards justice, effectively, no sense towards reparations, no sense towards addressing the problem, the inherent problem, of this power structure itself, which is rooted in colonisation.

So — there is also a civilisational root problem, which is more of the — a concept around why these institutions are even needed in our globalised society.

So, this is more of a commentary on the existence of global institutions such as the IMF-WB and the role that they take up in society, and why they need to even exist — this is a civilisational narrative that points to a root problem of patriarchal hierarchy and political control that is very much tied in with the propaganda mechanisms of how these narratives actually get to establish themselves over centuries.

So — pointing to all of this, and leaving the context of how this monster exists in the world that defines our other worlds that is an oppressive role that it’s taking, in a very legitimised, and legalised, institutional way, where it takes up a place in our ruling classes’ consciousness where — to be a so-called “good person”, and to be part of “sustainable development” in the world — it follows that it’s honourable and encouraged to entangle oneself with this ecosystem in order to be able to affect change, or something like that.

So, that’s also part of the problematic narrative, the idea that in order to make positive change in the world, which makes you a good person, you would have to engage with these power structures in some way, and kind of sell yourself to the beast.

This is part of the co-optation mechanism that we see as very entrapping in terms of how we see not only the NGO industrial complex, but also I think grassroots activism in general — how the ambitions of this narrative leads people to be attracted to forums and platforms that are created by such global institutions.

So, not only the IMF-WB that is directly for example attracting — and has been for decades — so-called activists and social justice movement leaders across the world, and co-opting them essentially into the trap of, one, once you’re engaged in our traps, you cannot be doing anything else, so “we have you now,” sort of thing.

And the effect that you can have in terms of the so-called activism that you want to do is now neutralised. Because “now you’re working with us, and we have various ways to trap you into things that make you believe that you’re still working towards your objectives, but also, you know, you believe in the narratives that systemic change takes time, and you know, we need to get everyone on board, and we have to work on collaborative processes that can look very slow, and, you know.”

So there are all of these excuses that these co-opted people end up believing, and sometimes it’s for decades.

And this is one of my personal experiences of IMF-WB, where a previous managing director, so World Bank has four managing directors, and one of them happened to be someone who was active within the foundation of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa back in the seventies. And they ended up becoming a famous figure within the Black Consciousness Movement, and using that clout to essentially enter spaces of power and become co-opted or, I would say, poisoned, by that.

And this is a very incestuous mechanism as I find, because when such people, and this is very effective because of the power that they then receive, in terms of political power, in terms of social capital, and in terms of obviously monetary power itself. So they get to essentially set up even political parties in their countries, to then continue to perpetuate that narrative that I pointed out about sustainable development that global institutions are perpetuating.

The ways that co-optation that I personally see happening, because I’m related to these people in some way, or they are actually seeking to co-opt me, is not a one-time thing. When these people become agents of those global institutions, they then sort of take it upon themselves to so-called “help” the younger generation, or the next generation of activists, to also step into so-called “halls of power”, as they have, in order to so-called “make systemic change”. There’s a kind of black market here of how activism is being co-opted, and has been co-opted for decades, by these global institutions as a way to effectively quash those movements to silence those people and to seduce them with power, with the so-called “access” to our global ruling classes that otherwise you would not have as let’s say a grassroots activist, etc.

This co-optation, this mode of co-optation and its incestuous nature with especially mainstream civil society is very much I think part of the mechanism by which the World Bank and the narratives, these damaging narratives rooted in coloniality, are actually fuelling themselves.

[B. Lorraine Smith]
Yeah, you’re reminding me actually of a story I hadn’t thought of until listening to where you were sharing here, and I feel like it’s, um, it’s another facet of the same gemstone, it’s not the same kind of co-opting, but it’s equally toxic, uh, and maybe even more disguised.

So — I’ll share things that are very specific — the company involved doesn’t exist any more, because like so many global companies, it gets merged and acquired and turned into other things, and the executives and decision makers involved have all moved on to different roles and even entirely different sectors. I’ll be specific and vague at the same time.

I was on the advisory board of — at the time — the largest pulp producer in the world, that happens to be a Brazilian — or was a Brazilian — company. I happened to be a Brazilian Portuguese speaker, I was the only non-Brazilian on the advisory board, so it was a really neat invitation to join — we were about 8 or 9 people from around Brazil, and me, different — you could say cross — you know, a good range of people in the land of sustainability advisory boards, but not really very diverse.

Nonetheless, our job as a board was to share perspective and feedback on the company’s strategy. We went on site a number of times into the plantations and into their pulp mills, and it was board and CEO-led, so the chair of the board and the CEO was at the table with us. So, you know, so far so good in terms of open dialogue.

But, this company, as I said, was the largest pulp producer in the world. That means it grows and cuts trees to turn them into essentially household paper products.

So, already, as an industry, we can imagine there are some challenges, right, a mono-species crop, just happens to be slower-growing than corn, but a lot of the same issues, biodiversity loss, land ownership, etc.

Also, we could say — being the largest pulp producer in the world, you’re managing a lot of land in a country like so many, including my own birthplace of Canada, is essentially founded on land theft and either genocide or enslavement or both. So there is some real awkwardness there.

But, I’m not even gonna need to go there to highlight the challenges that come up with something like the global financial scene that the World Bank and its ecosystem are involved in.

This company was lauded for its progressive and kind of pioneering green bonds. This was when the notion of a climate-aligned bond was a pretty early and very exciting idea, and a lot of debt finance was rushing towards these climate-friendly instruments. So, they’re raising — I think they raised the largest at the time — green bonds in — I think they might’ve been the largest in the world, but they’re very large in the Brazilian context. So lots of money changing hands.

And they were getting our feedback on their overall strategy.

So that’s just a bit of context setting, what are we talking about, we’re talking about billions of dollars changing hands for — for financing the activities of this pulp company. They call it “forest products”.

So, in one of our in-person meetings where all of the board is gathered in São Paulo, and we’re discussing their strategy, they were very thoughtful and frankly this was remarkable — so we’re checking the boxes, right, we’re saying “wow, this is far-reaching, this is generous, this is expansive and very considerate of the many different elements here”.

They are inviting into the room very diverse stakeholder perspective. Some policy folks and a range of more kinda technical governance oriented people, and a couple folks who they brought in, of course the company covered all expenses to travel very far, from within the Amazon Basin, where forest products company activity has been part of bringing pasture land back into plantations — so not back to native forest — but back to plantations — and they brought several people representing the indigenous and Quilombola communities.

Quilombola communities are of — they’re people descended from [African Atlantic-slave-trade] slaves. Those are obviously communities with very different perspectives and needs, there’s a whole world I could speak to there, but I won’t,

I’ll just say — two people from indigenous and Quilombola communities were brought into the room in the big office tower in São Paulo to share their perspective.
This was in 2018.

I was blown away.
I confess now to realising just how naive I was as to what was really going on.

Because these were very respectful people, they spoke in a gracious and generous way, they were kind and open, they asked us questions, and they answered every question we asked, it was a very honourable and, I thought, quite pleasant conversation. And yet, it was so obvious that both of these people knew more about the forest than anybody in the room, anybody else in the room, and anybody else who had been invited so far.

And yet, we were supposedly doing something very avant-garde, like this big favour that we let these people come and talk to us, and that we let these people here.

A little bit about what we were talking about:
This was a three-day meeting, and the time with them was about two hours.

So, a tiny percentage of a tiny meeting in the grand scheme, that barely glanced the side of the corporate strategy, in which these profoundly knowledgeable experts on forest ecosystem, forest resilience, and the people living in these communities, were given a little moment to tell us what they might be thinking about.

And what became so clear to me, we had the debrief with the CEO and the chair of the board when all the other stakeholders were gone, and I was speechless.

I was just choked with frankly sobs, it was a little bit embarrassing from a professional perspective, because it was just so obvious that what we were doing was worse than a waste of time.

And yet, uh, the company carried on, has been, was seen as the leader in engagement, in transparency, and in green finance.

And so, I guess the little shine I would put on the facet of this part of the gem is to say — even — so much of the activity that goes beyond checking the boxes is lauded as very ambitious and green, and therefore we should be doing more of it, is so demeaning and not really serving the very people who supposedly these green initiatives serve. And — and we’re just kind of cheering on things that are — are either vacuous, or painfully, painfully misguided.

So I look at that as one of the — the flares — in fact, it’s a big piece of what made me realise I needed to step out of sustainability, because that “best practice” is embarrassingly, or insultingly, harmful to those people whom we are supposedly “helping” with these “wonderful” initiatives.

[Samantha Suppiah]
Yeah, thank you Lorraine for this really important anecdote.

I think you’re pointing to development aggression as an outcome of corporates in this level of the ecosystem seeking to “do sustainability” or to “do development” while continuing to grow the reach of colonialism and imperialism, so very intentionally they have the power to do this, very intentionally ignoring Global South and indigenous perspectives that maintain life on Earth, and to not see anything wrong with that, so no remorse whatsoever, and I think the — what gives them power to do this is very much rooted in the colonial, racist narratives of, “what is an important perspective and why”, and “how do we actually try to, you know, not do the violent thing anymore, but kind of to recognise, well, that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really help the company, so therefore it doesn’t benefit us to pay attention to — to those perspectives, because the bottom line is really based on other things that they’re not really speaking to, and it’s kind of just irrelevant,” essentially.

So, it’s rooted in this racist idea that essentially those perspectives are simply not relevant perspectives in the way that the company operates and what it’s trying to do, you know, this groundbreaking thing with “sustainability” and bonds, like wow.

So, this also brings us to Lorraine’s work with Matereality, where asking three very specific questions to get to the root of how these companies operate and what they’re actually doing.

[B. Lorraine Smith]
Sure, yeah, so, so in those decades of digging around in the mainstream sustainability and ESG trenches, I found myself really trying to get it right, right? Like, not just complain and be like, why can’t they, or you know, we need to just…

And each round, I realised this system is, as you’ve described I think very insightfully Sam, it’s just not set up for that.

It’s not an accident that those better ways of being are sort of repelled or humoured in gentle, sweet ways, but not really taken on board.

And so, I’m a bit slower than you, it took me a couple decades to figure it out, and then when I left, I realised that there are nonetheless some — some keys to the castle that might be interesting to jangle a little bit more.

Maybe just in the spirit of mischief and truth-telling, but maybe with the potential to shift some mindsets in places of decision-making and empower people to do things differently. That’s — that’s ultimately my intention.

And so, I took a very well-worn tool from the mainstream ESG toolchest known as Materiality — and anybody who’s been involved in corporate sustainability, and certainly in global finance, will have bumped into the term “Materiality”. It has a plethora of interpretations in the mainstream world, I won’t go down that trail here.

What I will say is — I saw all of those interpretations — from a heavy-duty finance, to the, you know, airy-fairy sustainability, being used and abused in service of the bottom line, and/or in service to risk reduction, which of course is the bottom line’s kissing cousin.

And I never saw — and when I say never I mean like no one single time did I see it — actually used to improve the social, human, wellness, ecological, biospheric impacts or even activities, much less impacts. It was purely a risk and strategy instrument for the company at best, and generally it was often just a communications exercise.

So, I took the word Materiality — and it’s spelt the way you would spell it if you went and said how you think it’s spelt — but I put “reality” in it. I swapped out the “i” for an “e”. And I put “reality” in “Materiality”, and that led me to run a different kind of assessment than the one that I’d been paid to do dozens of times for many companies round the world.

And by the way companies — I don’t know how it is now with all the automation and AI, but back in the olden days of 2021, companies would often pay up to a quarter of a million US dollars for Materiality assessments, including all the stakeholder interviews, and the production, and whatnot.

That — that’s not, you know, billions, but it’s not nothing. Think of what you or I could do with a quarter of a million dollars and a little bit of time.

Instead, I produced an open-sourced, free methodology that anybody can download, it’s available on my website,, and the methodology is applicable to any organisation at any scale in any sector, any region around the world, because it seeks to take a look at what the organisation actually does, compared to what it says — that’s already usually a pretty big gap — but then more importantly, and this is really the painfully missing piece of the sustainability — ESG, green bond, climate this that, the other — puzzle, which is — what is needed in order to serve life?

And, I don’t mean that in the “wouldn’t it be nice if we all got along” way — I mean that in the “economy is the care of our shared home”. That’s what the word means. And that’s what makes sense to do, to look after ourselves as individuals and people and families and communities, and to look after the world in which we live, from whence we draw our water, our food, our sustenance, and our overall wellbeing.

And yet, we lost that trail, you could say a few hundred years ago, you could say, in 19, in the 1990s, with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, you could point to lots of moments in time where industrially, we doubled, tripled, quadrupled down on an extractive economic model at the expense of our shared wellbeing.

I’ll leave aside why and who in this moment, and say — Matereality is designed to just lift up some really basic truths about an organisation based on public disclosures.

And so I think of an organisation like the World Bank — I mean, they’ve got disclosures galore. You could make a full time job of reading the World Bank’s disclosures.

But what we see — so here I’ll just offer a quick example of what ties this conversation about the World Bank to the notion of Matereality — putting reality into the economic conversations and looking at how and if this organisation is serving life, or perhaps undermining life.

And again, I really wanna emphasise, Matereality the way I approach it is based on public disclosures. These are not secrets. This is not whistle-blowing or, you know, getting insiders to leak information. This is right under our noses, and widely available, signed off by legal counsel, often promoted by PR firms, these are not secrets.

And yet what I looked at, for instance, I did some Matereality work — and this is unfunded, I’ve chosen to do it, sometimes people, you know, might subscribe to my Substack, or I might get paid to give some advice or coaching, but these are things that I’ve just chosen to do, and if people benefit from it, that’s excellent.

I did a deep dive into the ethical investing universe.
Quite honestly I was following my own retirement portfolio which I have since completely 100% divested out of the entire market. It’s sitting in a puddle deflating as I speak. And I followed it because I get the prospecti from the funds that I had been invested in, which were some of Canada’s so-called “leading ethical” funds, it’s where I put my money in the early 2000’s when I first entered the sustainability field. But I decided to follow that money and just get a little greater clarity on — so what’s going on?

Because of course by that moment, early in this year, 2024, I was very publicly concerned about ESG as it’s been handled.

And so I followed a couple of the funds that are most prominent within what was my portfolio with ethical funds, and NEI investments, and I’ve written all this up, it’s public, anybody can follow the links, please fact-check me, let me know if you find errors, I’ll be glad to publish an addendum.

What I saw was quite fascinating in relation to the World Bank, which is that leaving aside a percentage of the portfolio that is in what you would call sort of “regular business”, so you know, the tech firms, etc. — and there’s lots we could say about that.

What was kind of mindboggling to me is a lot of these funds are essentially mutual funds that are invested in the investments in the investments.

I’m a little bit relentless, so I was like, well wait, what does that mean? Where does this money go?

And I kept following, and following, and following.
And it just boggled my mind to see how much of a couple these so-called “leading” investment — ethical investment funds — were invested in funds that lend to the IMF and World Bank.

So, just to hold that thought for a moment — what that means is that I, and probably many of my peers, I’m in my early 50’s, I grew up in Canada, I’ve worked internationally, I’ve had a kinda typical retirement fund that has a tax incentive to tuck money aside each year, and that’s like a lot of my professional, relatively affluent peers, we are tucking aside our hard-earned money, imagining that it will grow and be ready for us in retirement. Well, what’s it doing while we’re busy toiling away and trying to save money?

It is, among other things, being sliced and diced into mutual funds that get resliced and diced and reinvested into the IMF and the World Bank — which, as you Sam so wisely noted a few minutes ago, are part of this model that perpetuates the oppression, perpetuates the power structures that either keep you out of any sort of economic comfort or lock you in to this mode of — well, but I’ll just keep going until I retire because my kids are at school, because I wanna pay my mortgage, because whatever rule I’ve created for myself that says I need to stay in this economic model — or else.

And so it’s a very self-perpetuating mechanism that either people just don’t question, or if they do question, it’s really hard to get answers. It’s Kafka-esque in its self-eating snakeness, if I can kinda mash metaphors. So it was quite disturbing to see that.

I’ll maybe just put a disclosure punctuation mark on my impression of the World Bank.

At the very least with NEI Investments, the company that I wrote up in that post in my little Matereal World Substack — at the very least, I could get links. And I could, with some determination, I could follow the trail.

But with the — the World Bank — there’s so many arms and legs to that thing, that — to be fair, I did not put 80 hours of research work into it — I could do, but my sense from perusing the disclosures, and I have quite a bit of experience with corporate and financial disclosures, I am not new to the topic.

It was as if it was written by an AI bot that didn’t want people to find the real details of where the money goes. Vague ideas about programs and categories of the programme, sure, but actually what did the money do?
Mmmmmm, tricky to pin down other than fluffy case studies.

So that — that is concerning for all the reasons that you already lifted up, Sam, and probably many more. And with that, I’ll pause, knowing that the Matereality universe is kind of vast, but that lens has been really helpful to see a little more clearly where the money is really going.

[Samantha Suppiah]
Perhaps a useful framework for civil society to interrogate further about these types of linkages, relationships, where the money goes, etc. I think there’s been a lot of exposure of like very specific happenings and, for example, human rights abuses and how they link to corporate activity and executive decision-making, etc., but not necessarily how this is all fueled or all tied in to especially the pensions debacle — it’s really not discussed enough.

And I think we start to see some groups tackle this conversation, etc., but not really in terms of focussing harassment efforts in terms of activism towards the large pension companies essentially.

And, I think, you have privy into this in terms of being able to navigate the financial markets and this ecosystem of corporate — I don’t even know how to say it anymore, it’s no longer an ecosystem, it’s like a corporation in itself, the entire system of corporate perpetuation.

Personally speaking, my ex-husband is an actuary in that space in London. And one of the reasons, obviously, we got divorced was his inability to see the connection of how, you know, his work directly perpetuates development aggression.

Lorraine, you mentioned about how these harms are perpetuated by these institutions, and I wanted to put some context towards the — the harm itself.

So, since the 1950s, on the momentum of industrial activity instrumented by WW2, we have been engaged in what some academics call The Great Acceleration. So this is a mode of human activity where humanity has been catapulted to accelerate towards a global civilisational mode that has led us rapidly, very rapidly, within a few decades, to where we are now, which is planetary systems collapse — which of course is also causing societal collapse across the board, and in many cases across Global South, societal collapse happened centuries ago with colonisation.

And what’s important to note about this, that since the 1950’s this has been happening, the IMF-WBG has overseen that, with, you know, the statements that it makes around wanting to address certain so-called “problems in the world”.

So, in many ways we can see that the Matereality directionality of questions, what’s the purpose that this organisation says it has, versus what it’s actually doing, I think on the front of global systems collapse, that’s already a very big indication of just how effective IMF-WBG, as part of this power structure that is generating or fuelling this type, this mode of human activity, is at doing the thing that it says it’s not doing.

[B. Lorraine Smith]
Yeah, thanks Sam. A couple quick thoughts.

One is — I’ve sometimes heard people say to me, like, “Oh well, ’cause you, you’re an expert in reading these things,” or whatever, and I just wanna — first of all say — you know, well, thank you, yes, I did put a lot of time into reading documents and preparing them, but actually it’s amazingly simple when you poke past the layer of smoke and mirrors. And I say that because I would be very sad to hear somebody who’s wondering about these kinds of issues, you know, global finance and the impacts it has on real human beings and where we live, who thinks, “oh gosh, but I’m, you know, I’m not an actuary, or I’m not an expert in ESG disclosures, I just can’t really understand those things.” It’s actually very common sense.

And allowing somebody else to tell you, you know, “don’t worry your pretty little head about that, it’s not your are of expertise,” I think is part of the collective industrial gaslighting that happens and keeps people from looking at some of the more obvious things.

So something I’m quite committed to doing is taking what sounds technical and fancy and flashy and spreadsheety and charty — and making it really simple to see, so that when we ask, “what are they actually doing?”, we can understand it in really human terms.

And I’m — you’ve known me for a while, Sam — you’ll know I’m — I’m not that smart on some things, like I need things to be really simple, really clear. So if I can figure it out and break it down and make it literal, then other people can too, and so not to let the barrier of “expertise” — which is frankly feigned and bogus in a lot of cases — be something that keeps people from asking really honest and meaningful questions.

And — and so the last thing I would say is — when people get to the other side of that, you know like, “yeah, okay, let’s take a close look,” then I often hear, “well, you know, we gotta be practical here, we wanna be realistic, you know, what’s possible,” and I would just like to offer that —

While it may seem impractical to radically alter the current economic landscape to be non-harmful and in service of life, I think it’s way less practical to stay within a model that causes us harm and oppresses the majority in service of the minority, so I think it’s super practical to imagine a life-affirming economy and to work towards that.

[Samantha Suppiah]

That pretty much sums us up from what we hope has been a little bit of Insider Insights into this critical interrogation of IMF-World Bank ecosystem as a whole, and what we see powers this power structure itself.

Thank you Lorraine for bringing these Insider Insights, and we hope to be able to also provide some references to point towards what we are trying to identify as patterns that maintain this system itself.

Thank you very much for listening. Cheers.



Samantha Suppiah

Southeast Asian trickster. Design strategist for decolonial sustainability & regeneration.