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Civil society groups, communities launch protest action against ADB as “anti-development bank”

Press Release
May 3, 2018

MANDALUYONG CITY – Hundreds from Asian civil society organizations and Filipino communities stormed the gates of the Asian Development Bank on its 51st Annual Meeting, demanding the financial institution to be held accountable for and to cease its continuous push for anti-poor and anti-development strategies across Asia and the Pacific.

For its 51st Annual Meeting, the Asian Development Bank has developed Strategy 2030 as its new long-term corporate strategy which groups and communities condemn to largely ensure private sector profit at the expense of vulnerable communities and the environment.

According to NGO Forum on ADB Executive Director Rayyan Hassan, the proposed strategy emphasizes the need to unlock private capital into development projects while abandoning systems for ensuring due diligence and compliance with requirements on environmental impact and social impact assessments.

“This is a clear threat to the communities and environment that will be facing the aftermath of various ADB-funded projects. Coupled with ADB’s long-standing immunity against any accountability, the people are left vulnerable to destructive project impacts without no one to answer for them,” stated Hassan.

Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa lambasted ADB for falsely posturing as a partner for Asia and the Pacific in combating poverty and in promoting a more resilient and sustainable environment amidst its major role in the privatization of basic services such as water and power, and in pushing coal and other dirty technologies in the region.

“Due to the history of ADB’s conditionalities forcing countries to resort to the privatization of basic services, the region’s impoverished and marginalized suffer through the deterioration of the quality and accessibility of basic services and sharp increases in costs,” said Pedrosa.

“Along with these harmful debt conditionalities, ADB also continues to increase the poverty and vulnerability of communities and their environment by introducing and financing dirty energy through coal projects,” he continued.

Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development Coordinator Lidy Nacpil cited the bank’s vital role in the introduction of coal-fired power plants in the Philippines alone through the implementation of EPIRA in 2001.

“Through EPIRA, which liberalized Philippines’ power industry, the country was made vulnerable to big coal investors. Today, we have an avalanche of coal plant projects being railroaded; with ADB leading the growth of Philippines’ dirty energy through its million dollar loans for projects like the Korea Electric Power Corporation’s 200-MW coal-fired power plant in Cebu and the rehabilitation of Masinloc Power Partners Ltd.’s 600-MW coal-fired thermal power plant in Zambales province,” said Nacpil.

Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development Legal and Policy Officer Atty. Avril De Torres pointed out ADB’s role in promoting dirty energy as contradictory to its projected agenda for inclusivity and sustainability in the Asia-Pacific region and its projected alignment with the Paris agreement on climate change and other global development platforms.

“In spite of the well-established fact that fossil fuels, especially coal, spike the risk for climate change and in spite of many countries and communities in the Asia-Pacific region standing on the frontlines of climate change impacts, the ADB still pushes for fossil fuel sourced energy more than it does for clean energy,” stated De Torres.

According to Philippine Movement for Climate Justice National Coordinator Ian Rivera, ADB’s clean energy commitment of $2 billion a year is trumped by its financing of coal projects that reached $10.735 billion from 2009-2017.

Rivera also condemned ADB’s push for myths of dirty coal being “clean and efficient” despite “clean coal” technology still greatly contributing to GHG emissions and warming of the planet – branding it as yet another of ADB’s false development solutions.

“If the ADB is truly serious in aligning with global development and climate commitments, it should explicitly aim for ending its financing and pushing for anti-development and anti-climate technologies like coal power – which only serve private interests while being of great disservice and injustice to the people,” said Rivera.

“In contrast to the anti-people and anti-environment development rhetoric rampant in ADB’s support for destructive policies on energy and other sectors, there are alternatives towards genuine development – as seen in largely untapped clean energy – which actually safeguard people’s interests through the promotion of more democratic and sustainable systems,” concluded Rivera.

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