The Asian Development Bank has been undertaking a review and update process of their Safeguards Policy Statement (SPS) 2009. The way we understand development is changing and development financing continues to evolve and adopt different ways which are less transparent and more difficult to track. At a time where the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are widening inequality, the safeguard policy remains critical to support community resilience and inclusive, just transition across the region.
The NGO Forum on ADB has been campaigning to improve the safeguards system and ensure a robust, just, and rights-based policy. This demand is broad and requires a deep-dive into what we mean by this call. This document was developed as a metrics tool to evaluate the Safeguards policy drafted by the ADB.
What do we mean when we say we want a robust, just, rights-based Safeguard policy?
A robust, just, right-based policy is a policy which can be implemented regardless of uncertainty. It is a policy which recognizes the severity of large-scale development on social and environmental systems. It is a policy which prioritizes the principle of avoidance and ‘Do No Harm’ before ‘minimizing’ or ‘mitigating’ the harm after it happens.
Robust is a broad term. This is why we developed the following checklist to help guide our approach to the policy.
Is the policy informed by adverse impacts from poor or no compliance of the SPS 2009 implementation?
Is the policy maintaining and stressing on the assessment of risks upfront prior to the approval of projects?
Does the policy prioritize transparency and accountability in investments, its risks and impacts in a way that is timely, accessible, and culturally and socially suitable for affected people?
Does the policy assess and manage direct and indirect environmental and social impacts of the investment in a way that is proportional to potential impacts?
Does the policy strengthen the binding requirements for both sovereign and non-sovereign lending?
Does the policy have a coverage framework for implementation in cases of emergency assistance, recovery and disaster risk loans, technical assistance, and associated facilities?
Just can mean different things to different people. But a just policy is a policy which is based on the principles of equity. We need to ask ourselves:
Does the policy seek to protect the rights, health, safety, and livelihoods of people including, children, women, Indigenous Peoples, and other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups?
Does the policy adopt a strong social protection framework which seeks to adequately compensate and improve the lives and livelihoods of project affected people who were physically, socially and economically displaced?
Does the policy assess the impact of the project on climate change and its impact on communities?
Does the policy strengthen and expand guidance for involuntary resettlement safeguard to include gender, economic, and climate-induced displacements?
Does the policy introduce & uphold a strong just transition & climate safeguard framework which adheres to IPCC Pathway 1 of 1.5 C?
Does the policy make a commitment to recognise and protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage?
A rights-based policy is supported and underscored by international laws, agreements and best-practices.