Last May 1-5 the 52nd Asian Development Bank (ADB) Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors took place in Nadi, Fiji, and as the bank claims that it has been a successful event, NGO Forum on ADB questions the portrayal of the Bank as an institution committed to addressing poverty alleviation in the Asia and the Pacific. This is after the percentage of projects with environmental-safeguard-related risk grew from 73% to 82% following the adoption of the Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) 2009. In addition, the involuntary resettlement category A or B also grew, from 47% to 51%.
Rayyan Hassan, executive director of NGO Forum on ADB stated that “Safeguards cannot be principle-based...peoples lives and environment are not open to interpretation...safeguards, therefore, have to be in forms of explicit binding requirements to ensure the most vulnerable are protected from adverse project and policy impacts”.
The share of category B projects also increased (55% in 2010 – 2012 versus 39% in 2007 - 2009) over the same period. There is a need for ADB to scrutinise the large share of category B, given the wide range of potential impacts anticipated.
Also, the timely disclosure of environmental social and monitoring reports was found to be problematic for a large number of projects, on account of the need to improve the report quality prior to disclosure.
Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of Center for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka said that “Current ADB safeguard policy is a very progressive one, however, the implementation is not meeting expectations. Thus, communities still face difficulties with some ADB funded infrastructure projects”.
In addition, Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) did not incorporate additional social dimensions such as core labor standards or gender as explicit safeguard policies, as some other MDBs have done.
Annabel Perreras, NGO Forum on ADB’s Advocacy Coordinator on AIIB stated that
"There is probably no contention that, if done right, infrastructure development meets crucial needs. However, what we see is an alarming disconnect between the rate of MDBs' financing these projects despite the lack of robust implementation of safeguards.
ADB should have the moral responsibility to ensure that its policies enshrined to protect project affected people, their rights, livelihoods and the environment are enforced and strengthened in all phases of the project cycle."