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ADB reviews Public Communication Policy; CSOs welcome move

by Cai U. Ordinario

THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) will conduct a review of its public communication policy to ensure that the policies are still effective, transparent and relevant.

The ADB will conduct the study from today to April 2010, during which time the Manila-based multilateral financing institution will seek views from various parties through the Internet.

The review is a mandatory requirement for policies every five years. It will also conduct consultations with stakeholders like government officials, civil society and the private sector, both in developing member-countries and donors. “The ultimate goal of the consultations is to give all interested stakeholders the opportunity to improve the effectiveness of ADB’s public communication policy,” said Ann Quon, ADB Department of External Relations principal director.

The NGO Forum on the ADB, a network of 250 civil-society organizations (CSOs), welcomed the move and said it was time to review the public communication policy since many of the poor, who benefit or become affected by the projects that the ADB has in the region, are not that well-informed.

In a statement, the CSOs said they are hopeful that reviewing the public communication policy of the bank will lead to better project implementation. “It’s about time the ADB’s narrow information-disclosure policy is reviewed. If it is to be of use to communities facing displacement due to ADB-funded projects, the bank has to recognize that public access to information is not an option but a fundamental human right,” forum executive director Red Constantino said.

Souparna Lahiri of the Indian-based National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers said the review will also improve project participation in communities. Lahiri said that extensive consultations are needed to carefully examine the provisions and how best to improve them.

Further, Leak Kay of Conservation Development of Cambodia said that access to information is one of the ways to empower and enable affected communities to participate in projects funded by the ADB. The current public communication policy, which took effect in September 2005, guides the ADB’s external-relations strategy and its stance on disclosure of information, with the aim of ensuring its business is widely known and understood.

The policy recognizes that transparency is critical to the effectiveness, sustainability and accountability of ADB operations, and the trust and support of member-governments. A second round of public comments will be sought in October, before a revised draft document is submitted to the ADB’s board of directors in the first quarter of 2011.

Final approval of the new policy is expected by next February.


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