First report from the Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting, Shanghai

May 9, 2002

First report from the Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting, Shanghai

Friends Of The Earth Australia

Australian NGOs join International coalition to condemn ADBs poor performance

AID/WATCH and Friends of the Earth urge President Tadao Chino of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to demonstrate leadership by taking immediate actions to instil systems of genuine accountability and transparency in the ADB.

Despite its improved rhetoric of better social and environmental outcomes, Non-government organisations (NGOs) condemn the condescending attitude of senior ADB staff when confronted with serious problems stemming from ADB projects. Over 40 NGOs representing 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the US are present in Shanghai - China, to meet with senior officers at its 35th Annual Meeting. These NGOs have been monitoring the activities of the ADB and have been campaigning for the long overdue reform of this multilateral financial institution.

Many cases were presented by affected community representatives to senior Bank staff. These cases clearly showed gross violation of the Bank's own policy and guidelines. However, ADB staff merely reiterated basic facts about the Bank that are already well known to the NGOs without offering any real action, or plan of action, to either stop the damages or to reduce adverse impacts of Bank funded projects on both the environment and local communities.

'Adversely affected community members, and advocacy NGOs were served the same rhetoric they have been hearing for years' stated Melita Grant of AID/WATCH. 'Clear questions about policies and specific projects invariably remained unanswered, or referred to other members of the Bank who were conveniently not present at the meeting.'

The recent establishment of the NGO Centre was being promoted by the ADB as a means to work with NGOs. However, NGOs are sceptical that such an initiative will make any difference to the lack of effective response so far.

"If the extensive bureaucracy of the ADB is not willing to deal with issues critical to the Bank's reputation and credential, it is very hard for us to believe that another level of bureaucracy will deliver any improved outcomes." Explained Lee Tan of Friends of the Earth.

It is unacceptable for senior Bank management to remain complacent in the face of poverty and severe environmental damages created by some of the Bank's projects. This behaviour goes against the Bank's fundamental stated goal of "poverty reduction". Continued complacency will further tarnish the ADB's already poorly perceived institutional image, while further entrenching inequality and suffering in the Asia-Pacific region.

For further information contact:

Ms Lee Tan
Friends of the Earth
Mob: 0417 082 294

Ms Melita Grant
Ph: 86+21+5840 8649