Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Unacceptable Weakening of ADB Environmental and Social standards
Concerns regarding Proposed Continuation of Public Consultations Based on Deeply Flawed and Incomplete Documentation NESSIM N. J. AHMADDirector, Environment and Social Safeguards,Asian Development Bank
February ** 2008
Dear Nessim,
It is with a high level of concern and disappointment that we write this letter to you regarding the on-going public consultations on the current draft (October 2007) of the Safeguard Policy Statement and associated documents. Those of us who have engaged in the Asian Development Bank’s Safeguard Policy Update process during the past couple of years have done so on a good faith basis, taking at face value the commitment by ADB management that the new Safeguard Policy Statement would not entail the weakening of ADB safeguards. Unfortunately, the draft SPS presented by your office for public comment in October actively promotes a substantial weakening of most of the existing ADB safeguard protections. We are writing to inform you that the draft issued in October 2007 is unacceptable and is not suitable as a basis for public consultation. Further, the process of consultations as currently designed and undertaken is inappropriate and exclusive. We urge the ADB to withdraw this draft and re-write it - prior to continued public consultation - to comply with existing ADB environmental and social protection measures and international good practices. As such, we call for a postponement of the consultation process until such time as a draft which does not involve the weakening of existing standards is presented to the public. There are three points in particular about the consultation process that we would like to raise which have steadily increased our concern since our last collective communication with you in November 2007. Initially, the draft was released (without any translations) an unacceptably short time before the first consultations, and this lack of an adequate time period for comments made it impossible for our diverse coalition of groups to conduct detailed analysis before the consultations. Secondly, experience of our colleagues at the consultations held to date has failed to provide reassurance that critiques provided are being taken on board and changes will be made. Thirdly, despite our detailed requests provided to you to improve the consultation process in various ways, the agenda of the consultations remains strongly weighted towards presentations by the ADB and does not represent an effective opportunity for affected communities to engage. We would also like to remind you that during the NGO panel discussion on the SPS process held during the ADB’s Annual General Meeting in Kyoto in May 2007, you made public assurances, recorded on videotape, that the ADB is committed to ensuring that there would be no weakening of the existing safeguard policies as a result of the SPS process. Japanese Ministry of Finance officials made the same guarantee to Japanese NGOs. Our organizations and colleagues have spent a great deal of time analysing the lengthy SPS document and we have articulated a large number of collective concerns regarding the content and context of the current draft policy. We are clear that the content of the draft is regressive and damaging, reflecting a substantial weakening of existing ADB environmental and social policies in violation of the Bank’s stated commitment to upholding – at a minimum – existing standards. Enclosed with this letter are detailed critiques that our organizations and colleagues have put together, to seek an effective response from you on these criticisms and to clearly articulate our difficulties with the current draft. Due to the criticisms within these documents and our criticisms of the consultation process, we believe that both the draft and the process of consultation are so compromised that we do not see any value in the continuation of the process of public consultation on this version of the SPS. A good number of our organizations have strongly advocated with you and worked on details of the consultation process since the SPU process began in 2005. However our interest in the consultations was based on your assertion and the Bank’s guarantee that the consultation draft would contain improved safeguard provisions. Given our interest in ensuring the ADB adopts effective and world standard safeguards and realizing after our analysis that the October 2007 draft not only reneges on previously made commitments but also contains other substantial flaws, we have decided not to participate in the current consultations. We suggest that the ADB rewrite the October 2007 consultation draft of the Safeguard Policy Statement and release it for public review with sufficient lead time so as to enable project affected communities, civil society organisations and governments to engage in a substantive discussion on progressive and effective safeguard provisions. We will not participate any longer in the process of consultation until such a document exists as we do not view these consultations as effective or meaningful. We therefore also urge that the consultations be halted until such time as an acceptable draft document that meets at least current ADB safeguard standards and best international practices at peer institutions, is circulated. We have provided our SPS critiques and copies of this letter to our respective governments and to the President and Board of the ADB for action. We look forward to hearing your response to this letter.
Regards, Signed CC:Ursula Schafer-Preuss, Vice-President, Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Liqun Jin, Vice-President, Operations 1C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr., Vice President, Operations 2.Bindu Lohani, Vice President, Finance and Administration. Encl: Summary Critique of SPS October 2007 Consultation DraftDetailed Analyses of the Environmental, Involuntary Resettlement and Indigenous Peoples Safeguards
Asim Nawaz Khan -Umeedenao Citizen Community Board, Pakistan
Sergei Vosin - EcoCentre of Tajikistan, Tajikistan
Dilena Pathragoda - Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
Suranjan Kodithuwakku – Sri Lanka Green Movement, Sri Lanka
Anna Dreyzina - Oil Workers Rights Protection Organization Public Union Azerbaijan Ulrike Bey - Asienhaus, Germany
Hemantha Withanage - NGO Forum on ADB, Philippines
Rustam Murzakhanov- NGO Environmental Law Center "Armon" (Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan)
Souparna Lahiri -National Forum of Forest People & Forest Workers(NFFPFW)
Titi Soentoro- Nadi, IndonesiaGururaja Budhya- Urban Research Centre, Mangalore, India Dang Ngoc Quang- Rural Development Services Centre, Vietnam
Zakir Kibria -Bangla Praxis, Bangladesh
Mangaraj Panda - Orissa Marine, Resource Conservation Consortium(OMRCC), India
Gevorg Arakelyan - Association "For Sustainable Human Development, Armania
Mekong Alumni Network - Chiang Mai University, Thailand
Souparna Lahiri - On behalf of ACT (Affected Citizens of Teesta), Sikkim, India
Yuki Tanabe -Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Japan

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