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ACEF 2021 Platform Devoid of Meaningful Engagement Options

Broad NGO Coalition Unites to Call Out ADB Designated Energy Policy Session


Manila, June 15, 2021 - As the Asian Clean Energy Forum gets underway, NGO Forum on ADB, an Asian-led CSO network, affirmed its collective decision to disengage from the session designated within ACEF for CSOs to discuss the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) energy policy. A statement signed by different organizations around the world explained that based on an assessment of the limitations created by a non-interactive technical platform, lack of lead-up time, and unclarified details about key procedural issues, they had concluded the only practical option available at this time would be to make this regrettable but firm decision. The network also added that civil society groups and communities from across Central, South, and Southeast Asia do not consider the review process a transparent, inclusive, and meaningful opportunity for a consultation.


Since the release of the ADB Draft Energy Policy on May 15th, the ADB Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department (SDCC) has not made any information about the timeline for consultations or the process by which input will be duly taken into account before final revisions are made publicly accessible. Civil society groups from across Asia and beyond have no clear understanding of when and how the ADB management will take in comments and critiques into this review process before the final policy is released later this year.


As Vidya Dinker from the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) and Growthwatch, India firmly stated: “The ACEF continues to be a public relations jamboree for the ADB -- to have more of the same in 2021 is just not acceptable. Are they expecting that communities wronged all these years by their portfolio of dirty projects and lack of standards will now simply sit back, trusting the ADB to magically scrub Asia clean because they are drafting a new energy policy?! And that this document will somehow save us all from the precipice of a climate emergency?! There is not even a respectable semblance of inclusivity or transparency of process in the ACEF, despite it being the big event for them to both showcases and have meaningful consultations on their energy policy draft. We do not see any reason to participate in such a charade.”


The organizations affiliated with NGO Forum on ADB have all acknowledged that while the ADB’s draft Energy Policy formalizes a withdrawal of financing for coal projects as recommended by the ADB's own Independent Evaluation Department (IED) in 2020, it alarmingly leaves open a range of options for supporting new and expanded infrastructure for gas (especially LNG), geothermal, large-scale dams and incinerator projects.


"We are very concerned about the ADB’s draft energy policy, and we are not happy with the ADB's highly confusing public consultation process. It seems they use the COVID pandemic lockdown period to escape from real public consultations,” explained Hemantha Withanage from the Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka.


Hasan Mehedi from the Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) Bangladesh, added: "ADB is continuing to finance fossil fuels including Liquified Fossil Gas and Waste to Energy while global scientific communities warn about any further investment for fossil fuels. ADB is yet to reach out to the project-affected communities on the ground. Without consulting the affected communities and local civil society, how come ADB finalizes such an important policy which has a direct impact on the local communities and environment?"


Gerry Arances from the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development in the Philippines elaborated further, saying: “Such investments risk jeopardizing international efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with IPCC pathway 1 and the ecosystem-based resilience of communities dependent on coastal, riparian, land, and forest-based ecologies.” He also added, “Equally concerning is the fact that the draft Energy Policy fails to provide any assurances concerning how private sector operations and dispersed investments made via financial intermediaries will avoid being implicated in coal, oil, or gas projects that would jeopardize Paris climate commitments and ensure compliance with the ADB's own social and environmental safeguards”.


“The future of ADB energy investments must be focussed on renewable energy and community microgrids. There is no space for fossil fuels, especially coal, oil, and gas,” concluded Rayyan Hassan, executive director of NGO Forum on ADB.

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