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A Decade of Safeguards: Lessons from the Ground

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

ADB is conducting a comprehensive review and update of its 2009 Safeguard Policy Statement. As part of the process, it has organized a series of consultations with key stakeholders including developing member country governments, civil society organizations, and project-affected people.

This session will reflect on the policy architecture of the Safeguard Policy Statement, challenges in its implementation on the ground, and existing limitations. NGO Forum’s panel will present project examples where a lack of meaningful consultation and information disclosure led to harm to communities. The panel will also discuss important issues related to gender, labor, sexual orientation and gender identity expression, and human rights in relation to safeguards.

​Vidya Dinker

Coordinator, Growthwatch

President, Indian Social Action Forum

Vidya Dinker is a Lawrence Pinto awardee. She dedicated many years of her life fighting for people’s rights, taking on the might of the state against the displacement of locals, especially the poor, under the Mangalore Special Economic Zone project. She also fights for ecology and in defense of the trees being felled in the name of development and progress.

Rene Ofreneo


Freedom from Debt Coalition

Rene E. Ofreneo is professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Labor and Industrial Relations, University of the Philippines. Mr. Ofreneo has a certificate in development economics, an MA in industrial relations, and a PhD in Philippine studies (labor and economy). His book, “Green Jobs and Green Skills in a Brown Philippine Economy” was published by the International Labour Orgnization in Geneva in 2010 and by the University of the Philippines Press in 2012. The book was used by the Philippine Senate in drafting a bill on green jobs, which was signed into law in March 2016.

Annabel Perreras

Project Data Analyst

NGO Forum on ADB

Annabel S. Perreras has been involved with the NGO Forum on ADB in different capacities working on issues of transparency, accountability, and social justice in relation to international financial institutions. She has professional experience and competencies in policy advocacy and program management. She has worked with local civil society organizations seeking redress through ADB’s Accountability Mechanism and has been involved in the safeguards evaluation process of the ADB. She was a Smitu Kothari Fellow at the International Accountability Project. She has a background in political science, a diploma in urban and regional planning, and is currently undertaking her juris doctor degree.

Ritu Thapa

Founding Member and Treasurer

Indigenous Women's Legal Awareness Group Nepal

Ritu Thapa is an advocate and activist focusing on human rights and indigenous women. She has an LLM from the University of Pune, India, and is a graduate of the Human Rights Advocate Program at Columbia University. She provides free legal services to indigenous and marginalized communities in Nepal through the Indigenous Women Legal Awareness Group, and has been working since 2016 for an indigenous community in Tanahu, Nepal affected by a hydropower project funded by ADB, the European Investment Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Nepal Electrician Authority.

​Hemantha Withanage

Executive Director and Senior Environmental Scientist

Center for Environmental Justice

Hemantha Withanage is the executive director and the co-founder of Sri Lanka-based Centre for Environmental Justice. He is the international convenor of NGO Forum on ADB. He was the former executive director of the Environmental Foundation, and from 2010 to 2018, was an executive committee member of the Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest environmental justice movement. He was also the vice president of the Friends of the Earth from 2016-2018. Mr. Withanage was the NGO Forum’s executive director from 2005-2008 and was the international convenor from 2012- 2018.

​Bruce Dunn

Director, Safeguards Division

Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department


Bruce Dunn is the director of safeguards in ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, where he leads a team dedicated to ensuring the implementation of environmental and social safeguard policy principles and good practices in ADB operations. Mr. Dunn’s current role builds on more than 20 years' experience in environment impact assessment, environmental policy, biodiversity conservation, and natural resource management, working across Asia and the Pacific. At ADB, he has previously served as the chief of ADB’s Environment Thematic Group, leading ADB’s proactive agenda on environment, including the implementation of ADB’s Healthy Oceans Action Plan, as well as being the focal point for the Global Environment Facility.

​Rayyan Hassan - Moderator

Executive Director

NGO Forum on ADB

Rayyan Hassan is a Bangladeshi national and the current executive director of the NGO Forum on ADB. He has a background in environmental studies (NSU, Dhaka, Bangladesh) and a master’s in social change and development (UOW, Australia). He is currently pursuing a doctorate in political science at the University of the Philippines. As a civil society advocate he regularly engages policymakers and major shareholders at the ADB and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, bringing community issues to the forefront of the development debate.


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