News and Update: ADB “safeguards” review sparks resignations

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Bank Information Center, 13 September 2007

Four members of the team tasked with revising the ADB project “safeguards” have resigned in protest against management’s efforts to dilute the bank’s policies on environment, resettlement and indigenous people.

The Financial Times (FT) reported today that four members of a five member team working on revising the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Safeguard Policies resigned from the team in July, in protest over management’s efforts to dilute the policies. The four are still employees of the ADB, however.

“Safeguards” refer to the ADB’s environment, resettlement and indigenous people’s policies that apply to its projects in Asia. Strong and effective safeguards are essential, especially as the ADB’s investments in infrastructure in the region are on the rise.

Over the last two years, the ADB has been working on revising and combining its existing safeguard policies under one umbrella. Organizations monitoring this process feared that the revised policies would be watered down rather than rectify the existing problems associated with the policies. Although the ADB has repeatedly, publicly assured that there will be “no dilution” of the existing policies, the new policy seems to break all promises.

The FT, which obtained a leaked copy of both the resignation letter and the revised draft policy, reported that the new draft policy dilutes specific compensation, tenurial and resettlement commitments with general injunctions to “pay adequate compensation at full replacement cost” and “provide sufficient resources and opportunities to [the] physically displaced to re-establish homes and livelihoods before their displacement.”

The four staff who resigned from the review team felt that the revised draft policy was not of “sufficient quality for disclosure to the public,” and that it threatened the bank’s reputation and revealed a “lack of due process and transparency.”

Resources

Read the article from the Financial Times (Financial Times website)

ADB Safeguard Policy update (BIC website)

ADB says it will not dilute existing environmental and social policies (BIC website)

Read more about the safeguard policies on the NGO Forum on the ADB website

Information from the safeguard policies and process (ADB website)

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