Yokohama, Japan - As the Asian Development Bank (ADB) celebrates it 50 years of operation in Asia, NGO Forum on ADB together with CSOs and affected communities from the ground are asking critical questions on its lending portfolio for the past half decade.
During the President’s Dialogue held during the Annual Meeting of ADB, Mr Rayyan Hassan, the Executive Director of Forum has asked President Takehiko Nakao for an assurance if the Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) 2010 will not be diluted and whether ADB would remedy the harm done by projects prior to the approval of its Safeguards and Accountability Mechanism. To highlight the question, a representative of Marinduque Council for Environmental Concern (MACEC), an affected community related her experiences on the past ADB funded project that is still causing harm and misery to them.
The Marcopper Mining Project in Marinduque, Philippines took effect in 1969 but was later closed down due to a fracture in the drainage tunnel of a large pit containing leftover mine tailings that discharged of toxic mine waste into the Makulapnit-Boac river system. The disaster also caused heavy floods to communities along its path, displacing over 400 families, and the evacuation of over 20 villages. According to Ms. Adeline Angeles, a resident living in Mogpog, Marinduque “the ADB funded project continuously cause suffering in the province, especially in terms of health and safety”. She reported that just last February 23, 2017, the same communities have expressed their alarm to the local government because of a crack that has developed in one of that dams that are now threatening another spillage.
ADB was also asked about its intentions to decarbonize Asia. The Forum is pushing the bank to support the member governments to achieve its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and fulfill the Paris agreement of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Hassan has reminded the bank to fulfill its promise made last Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2016 in Manila where Philippines Country Director Richard Bolt said that it ‘ADB will honor Conference of the Parties (COP 21)’.
The Forum also pointed out ADB’s involvement with autocratic regimes whether it would withdraw its lending to these governments that oppress human rights and rights of indigenous people and marginalized groups.
Lastly, the Forum conveyed to President Nakao the Asian People’s Call on Challenging ADB’s Immunity, which started in Manila, Philippines last week (April 19-21, 2017) where civil society organizations, academics, affected communities, and youths demanded to Strip ADB’s Immunity.
Mr. Hassan finished with the question “despite ADB’s Safeguards and Accountability Mechanisms, we have experienced ADB’s immunity to be an obstacle to achieving meaningful remedy to affected communities and be accountable for its failures. Do you think after 50 years it is time to reconsider ADB’s immunity clause in order to ensure justice, transparency, and accountability of all its operations in Asia?”