Meeting Between Civil Society Organizations and ADB Management
54th ADB Annual Governors Meeting
The world is in a grip of the global COVID19 pandemic with an over 260 trillion USD debt burden. On top of which we are at a precipice of losing our critical climate balance if we do not act in time to reduce global temperature rise by 1.5 degrees as per the Paris Alignment. Instead of a collective global response to the threats above, we are witnessing a rising competition of geopolitical forces in the region. Military and authoritarian dictatorships taking over democracies, (as we are witnessing in Myanmar) have posed direct threats to human rights and environmental defenders across the region leading to numerous deaths and abductions.
Amid this vulnerable and chaotic regional context, the ADB response in mobilizing resources as loans for COVID19 recovery and its role in the Joint MDB position in the UNFCCC begs further scrutiny from the lens of effectiveness and community needs. While civil society criticisms remain on ADB yet we commend ADBs immediate and stern response to Myanmar’s Junta military by imposing a freeze on all ADB loans and projects in the country. It is in this spirit of preserving democracy and people’s voices that we wish to have this dialogue with you Mr. President at this year’s annual governors meeting.
The ADB in 2021 is reviewing its Energy Policy of 2009 and is soon to review its Safeguards Policy of 2009. Both policies will prove to be pivotal in setting the region on the path of green recovery. The theme of this year’s annual meeting is “Collaboration for Resilient and Green Recovery” but this can never be achieved not unless the fossil fuel industry, private sector, governments, and multilateral development banks including the ADB urgently heed the call to limit the warming temperature of the planet.
To this end and under your leadership Mr. President we want to flag the following issues -
The ADB has invested in the controversial Masinloc Coal Plant, the Visayas Base Load Coal Plant, the Tata Mundra Coal plant with disastrous impacts on GHG emissions and social environmental hazards leading to complaints being filed and investigated in the ADB Accountability Mechanism. Since 2014 the ADB has no longer invested in any new coal projects. Can ADB thus commit to a complete withdrawal from coal finance as recommended by the IED Evaluation on the Energy Policy, 2020? This ban on coal should cover both stopping the financing of new coal projects and phasing out participation from existing and already operational projects.
As of 2019, gas is the leading contributor to global fossil emissions – whilst coal emissions are declining. Out of the 100-methane leakage hotspots worldwide, 50 are associated with oil and gas. ADB continues to be the second-largest gas financier in the world. Can ADB commit to a time bound phase out from gas finance?
Investment in thermal Waste-to-Energy systems is a waste of energy and money. It is a fact that thermal WTE (especially waste incinerator) is the most expensive way to manage waste and a very costly method of energy generation. Scientific evidence has shown that thermal Waste-to-Energy is a dirty source of energy and carbon-intensive investments. Despite well-publicized CSO concerns on this issue, ADB still affirms support for thermal waste-to-energy systems. Can ADB show real climate leadership by excluding thermal waste-to-energy from all its investment policies and financing instruments?
On Clean Energy Solutions
With the heavy social and environmental impacts of Large Hydro and Geothermal projects, a deeper assessment has to be made before they are considered as renewable energy solutions. Can ADB commit to removing large hydro and Geothermal projects from being classified as clean energy and renewable energy solutions?
Consultation on SPS Review
Mr. President can you commit to the upcoming policy review will NOT Dilute the existing safeguards? Can the ADB also ensure that the stakeholder engagement plan for the upcoming safeguards review will ensure civil society and project-affected community voices be meaningfully consulted throughout the process, keeping in mind the need for on-site field investigations and face-to-face dialogues when pandemic restrictions are lifted?
Country Safeguards Systems
With over 40 million USD spent on CSS strengthening the ADB has not been able to implement CSS use in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, or any other country. Can the ADB commit to upholding its own SPS policy until CSS reaches equivalency after due assessment?
PSOD and FIs
IEDs 2015 and 2020 reports give alarming results on the lack of compliance by FIs on ADB SPS? How can the new SPS ensure that FIs and Private Sector borrowers be brought to strict compliance on ADB Safeguards Policy and the ADB Accountability Mechanism?
IEDs report claims the ADB has de-categorized risk assessments to Bs which should have been categorized as As. How can ADB ensure that systemic checks are made to ensure that ADBs Safeguards risk categorizations have gone through a transparent and objective assessment in order to ensure that under categorization is strictly avoided?
Tanahu Hydropower Project, Nepal: COVID-19 restrictions have delayed the investigation into the complaints filed by the Project affected communities, but the construction of the project is going ahead unhindered. The complainants’ call for suspension of the project dam construction until their grievances, which include land for land compensation and redress for impacts on collective resources and properties, are effectively addressed.
KEIIP Kolkata, India: Street vendors displaced by water and drainage pipes being laid, have not been adequately compensated for their loss of livelihood over an extended period of time. With delayed construction schedules, most have not been able to resume their businesses and those few who mustered courage to reopen after a year have now been asked to bring down their tea stalls and electric shops yet again. Those along the line live in dread as to when work will commence and when they will be evicted. Meaningful consultations and information sharing prior to construction works are not being done and the vendors are left completely in the dark on what happens next. Rightful compensation due to these street vendors and support amid this crisis must be given, their forced displacement is on ADB!
Ger Area Development Investment Program 47005 (3 tranches) and Affordable Housing Urban Renewal Project (49169-002), Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, it is difficult to get a clear picture of how many people are being resettled and why cash compensation is being preferred. It should be land for land with the same title or land for an adequate size apartment for the number of families living on that land with financial support for relocation, transition, and livelihood support, where necessary. No consistent and reliable information on the resettlement and relocation policy is given to the affected people; the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2018, which should apply to all affected people under this project, is not being honored by the project implementers.
We are also attaching the result of the Forum network’s Make-Your-Mark Campaign, where communities affected by harmful, destructive projects funded by ADB, grassroots organizations, and other groups monitoring the Bank are encouraged to pin their location (or the location of a project funded by the ADB) and leave a message, demand/s, call, videos, photos, and research about ADB funded projects. 187 entries were recorded, submitted by individuals, groups, and communities asking the ADB to put people and planet first.
Endorsed by the following organizations -
350.org Asia, Asian Region
350.org Pilipinas, Philippines
Aksi! for gender, social and ecological justice, Indonesia
Arab Watch Coalition, Mena
Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt, Bangladesh
Building and Wood Workers International Asia Pacific, Philippines
Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation (BIRUDO), Uganda
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, Philippines
Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
Change Initiative, Bangladesh
CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network), Bangladesh
Coalición Regional por la Transparencia y la Participación, Perú, Brasil, Bolivia, Colombia
Collective for Economic Justice, India
Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt, India
Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network (CEMSOJ), Nepal
Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (DAR), Perú
Digo Bikas Institute, Nepal
Environics Trust, India
Equitable Cambodia, Cambodia
Food First Information Action Network - FIAN Sri Lanka,Sri Lanka
Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines
Friends of the Earth Japan, Japan
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), global alliance
Green Advocates International, Liberia
Green Alternative, Georgia
Independent Consultant Khaydarova Muatar, Tajikistan
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), India
Initiative for Right View, Bangladesh
International Accountability Project, Global
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Tajikistan
International Rivers, United States
Karmojibi Nari (KN), Bangladesh
Life Haven Center for Independent living panda, Philippines
Mekong Watch, Japan
Muatar Khaydarova independent consultant, Tajikistan
Nash Vek, Kyrgyzstan
Oil Change International, United States
Oil Workers' Rights Protection Organization Public Union, Azerbaijan
Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia
Progressive Plantation Workers Union (PPWU), India
Public Services International, India
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation- PSI, Philippines
Recourse, The Netherlands
Rivers without Boundaries Coalition, Mongolia
Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition (RwB), International
Sri Lanka Nature Group, Sri Lanka
Stiftung Asienhaus, Germany
Universal Peace federation, Myanmar
urgewald e.V., Germany
Witness Radio - Uganda, Uganda
WomanHealth Philippines, Philippines
Youth Group on Protection of Environment, Tajikistan
YouthNet for Climate Justice, Bangladesh
Download the PDF version of the statement here.