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FORUM was originally established as the NGO Working Group (NWG) on the ADB in 1991 by 20 NGOs from 16 countries. During that time, it has a Regional Secretariat that facilitated the dissemination of relevant information gathered from the ADB to its member NGOs and partner local groups. The NWG Regional Secretariat was composed of Philippine-based groups, namely: Asian NGO Coalition (ANGOC)Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC), and Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM).


At that time, activists felt that little attention was given to the ADB, which is an influential international financial institution in Asia and the Pacific, as compared with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Since then, the Forum has expanded its core members in each of the five ADB-defined Asian subregions, namely: Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Mekong subregion and the Pacific, as well as in the Bank’s major donor countries such as Japan and the US.


FORUM was reorganized in 1997 and a new structure of the network was incorporated under Philippine laws in 2001. Under the new structure, regional working groups were established representing Central Asia, Mekong Subregion, Pacific, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. In addition, separate working groups were also formed composed of NGOs from Europe, Japan, Australia, and the United States.


Under the new structure, the sub-regional working groups elect their respective representatives to the International Committee (IC) which provides the long-term direction of the network. The Manila-based Secretariat coordinates the day-to-day activities of the network. The Forum Annual Meeting (FAM) is the highest decision-making body.


Since then, FORUM has been adhering to the principle of transparency, accountability, and participatory decision-making. It is in solidarity with community struggles against development finances that lead to a debt trap. FORUM also supports struggles against violations of the Safeguards and the rights of the people. It works towards social and environmental justice, and good governance.


FORUM enhances the capacity of its members’ capacity in monitoring ADB’s operations in their respective regions by providing a venue for exchanges of information, and sharing of experiences and diverse expertise. It also provides support to the advocacy activities of its members related to ADB policies and projects, including making use of the Accountability Mechanism for community complaints against ADB-funded projects.


FORUM also produces critiques of the ADB’s policies, and publications, in the form of briefers and guidebooks, tackling the Bank’s operations in Asia and the Pacific. It also releases a quarterly magazine, “Bankwatch.”


Network Structure

The NGO Forum on ADB is governed by an International Committee (IC) whose members are elected by their respective regional working groups representing the following regions and countries:


  • South Asia

  • Southeast Asia

  • Central Asia

  • Mekong Subregion

  • Pacific

  • Japan

  • The Netherlands

  • Philippines


The Secretariat’s Executive Director is an ex-officio member of the committee. The IC, in consultation with the members of each sub-region, is tasked to discuss the course of action to be taken by the Forum. The membership of sub-regions is reviewed and assessed. The status of membership of organizations in the sub-regions will depend on the level of its involvement in the activities done by the sub-region and the Forum.

See Strategic Plan 2020.


30 Years of NGO Forum Network

30 Years of Forum
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