Manila: As the first part of Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 2020 Annual Meeting commences today NGO Forum on ADB urges ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa to take immediate action to address ADB’s influence on Asian debt, GHG emissions, and adverse environmental and social impacts of its project operations.
NGO Forum on ADB observed that the ADB’s USD 20 billion-recovery package is predominantly loans with only 2 billion USD as grants! Both the IMF and G20 have committed to debt relief measures as of May 2020. The Forum network calls out President Masatsugu Asakawa to immediately issue an order to stop the collection of ALL loan payments from DMCs for 2020, so that they may have access to unconditional funds for immediate public health care and economic recovery.
Sreedhar Ramamurthi, from Environics Trust, India stated that “the ADB (as with most of the MDBs) seems to be desperate to make use of the crisis and enhance its opportunities to lend. The ADB must realize that bigger loans for the same kind of destructive mega infrastructure projects cannot help the people nor the economy. In the case of India, the ADB in their tick-box mentality. claim that the emergency COVID19 fast track loans are in tune with the country strategy! I will caution the bank and appeal to the ADB Board to ensure safeguards are not compromised in the name of an emergency or ‘unprecedented” situation’”.
Regarding ADB’s energy investments, Rayyan Hassan, Executive Director of NGO Forum on ADB states that the “ADB Energy Policy 2009 is draconian and outdated and heavily embedded in coal and fossil fuels. The old policy is a complete contradiction to the Paris Agreement! A new ADB Paris 1.5 degree aligned Energy Policy is urgently needed to support Asia’s renewable energy pathway to reach its NDC targets.”
Gerry Arrances, from Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Philippines states “ADB must pursue and promote a 1.5°C Pathway—reaching a global CO2 emissions decline of 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and net-zero CO2 emissions by mid-century—without false solutions.”
Director Hassan further states ‘Post Pandemic the ADB must emphasize on clean energy infrastructure and transition to zero emissions immediately. Renewable energy-driven microgrid communities (solar and wind) is the future of energy investment, ADBs recovery plan must decouple from all fossil fuel use immediately’.
At the ADB project impact level, NGO Forum on ADB cites ‘lack of meaningful consultations’ with affected communities in the ADB infrastructure project design phase of as the main reasons for its adverse impact on nature and people. The Forum calls out to the ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa on this 53rd annual meeting, to ensure proactive information disclosure and meaningful consultation with local communities and civil society in all ADB projects from design to implementation phases. The Asia wide network also urges the ADB President to uphold the critical commitment of ‘No Dilution’ to the SPS 2009, to uphold human rights and environmental sustainability.
This message was reinforced by Muatar Khaydarova, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Tajikistan “an important aspect of ADB activities remains access to public information on ADB projects, consultations with civil society, as well as involving CSO and affected population to the participation in the decision-making process and during the implementation of the projects by ADB in Central Asia.”
Prabindra Shakya from Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network, Nepal says “COVID-19 pandemic has seriously threatened our civilizations and ways of life and revealed our weak economic and public health systems. While countries such as Nepal have been struggling to fight back and contain the spread of the coronavirus, the marginalized population groups such as daily wage earners, farmers, indigenous communities and migrant workers are not only more vulnerable to the disease but have also been disproportionately impacted by the virus containment measures and hardships thereof.”
Vidya Dinker, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), India explained that “ADB has spent over 40 million USD in strengthening capacities in India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, etc., yet not a single Country Safeguard Systems (CSS) is optimal for Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) delivery. We hope the ADB will continue to take responsibility for delivering its own SPS until CSS achieve equivalency as articulated in the SPS 2009.”
The coming year will be of change and new ideas to help build a post COVID19 sustainable, healthy, and greener world. To do so the bank must bring independent civil society voices into its planning and policy formulation. It is through listening to the voices on the ground will the bank be able to address the development question, which it intends to solve. Mr. President, it is the quality of life of the people and the environment that are the true indicators of development outcomes not the fractions of national GDP rise.
According to Apolinar Tolentino of Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), “as the ADB will certainly take part in the post-COVID-19 recovery program particularly strengthening medical and health physical infrastructure, it must ensure that not only workers and trade union rights are freely exercised in these projects but also asbestos-containing materials are not used at all”.
NGO Forum on ADB hopes that the Bank is learning from this bitter experience of its misdirected export-oriented development paradigm, and is looking towards to turn the ship to meet the climate crisis, address people’s vulnerability and head towards a ‘true’ sustainable development pathway.