Jambi province extends from the white sands and crystal waters of the east coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, to the verdant Barisan Mountains in the west. It borders the Kerinci Seblat National Park, where endangered Sumatran tigers still roam. But a bird’s eye view of the province reveals the toll industry has taken. The Sumatran forests, home to more than 100 endangered animal species, are interrupted by the black stains of coal mines and the unnatural uniformity of palm oil plantations.

Home to more than a dozen coal mines, Jambi province is one of Indonesia’s most important coal-producing regions. But this has brought problems for people living near the mines. They have seen air and water quality plummet. Rural villagers say the pollution has made them sick and threatened their livelihoods, which often depend on natural resources.

An investigation by Inclusive Development International, Recourse and Trend Asia found that the world’s premier development bank, the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group, is backing several of these coal plants indirectly. The IFC is supporting these projects through investments in third parties known as financial intermediaries, which have gone on to provide billions of dollars to some of the world’s largest coal developers.

Photo by Teguh Supriyanto/Trend Asia

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