ADB TO UPDATE ITS ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL SAFEGUARD POLICIES

KANWAL SALEEM
Apr 28 - May 11, 2008

LAHORE: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to take some additional steps to update its environmental and social safeguard policies after having concluded this week a series of 13 consultation workshops across the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe.

Many representatives from government, civil society, private sector, academic institutions, and international development agencies have provided feedback on the consultation draft for the proposed safeguard policy update, which is intended to enhance the relevance of ADB safeguards and strengthen their effectiveness.

Extensive consultations were held late last year and this year in 12 cities, sources in ADB said.

Consultations took place earlier in Bishkek, Manila, New Delhi, Sydney, Jakarta, Beijing, Ha Noi, Islamabad, Washington D.C., Ottawa and Frankfurt. A workshop was also held in Manila specifically for indigenous peoples groups, it added.

The purpose of the consultations was to increase ADB's understanding of stakeholders' perspectives, establish a shared understanding of key safeguard objectives, principles and requirements, as well as to guide the formulation of the safeguard policy statement.

"We are encouraged by the tremendous amount of constructive feedback and many detailed suggestions on the consultation draft, and have learned a lot from stakeholders," said Nessim Ahmad, Director, ADB Environment and Social Safeguards Division.

"In order for the new safeguard policy to be responsive to a wide range of views, ADB Management has decided to introduce an additional step and we will prepare a second draft of the safeguard policy statement, based on the feedback and advice we have received through our extensive consultations."

In addition, ADB will hold another consultation workshop at its headquarters in Manila for stakeholders to have an opportunity to review the revised document. It will also be posted on ADB's Web site for comments.

The policy update will make our safeguards more effective. The update will not weaken the objectives and principles of the existing safeguard policies. Instead many aspects are being enhanced such as greater scope of environment assessment, new requirements for grievance redress mechanisms, stronger public consultation and community engagement, and greater attention to project implementation.