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Forum network Statement to the ADB President 2021

Updated: May 5, 2021

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 -

On Coal

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.

On Gas

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?

Risk Categorization

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?

Project Concerns

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 - Asia, Asian Region 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

Growthwatch, India

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

You can access the live map here. You can read the generated report here.

Download the PDF version of the statement here.


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