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CSOs, green groups to ADB: be a bank for sustainable Asian development

Power for People Coalition
Clad in 'emergency' protective attire, groups trooped to ADB urging the bank to stop funding the climate emergency with its coal and fossil fuel financing

Civil society and green energy groups led by the Power for People Coalition (P4P) and multi-national coalition NGO Forum on ADB trooped to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Mandaluyong on the last day of the Annual Meeting of the ADB, challenging the bank to end its dirty energy legacy and instead enable sustainable development in the Philippines and Asia.

The groups, with mockups of emergency lights on vans and clothed in personal protective equipment (PPE), held an emergency-themed action highlighting the bank’s role in bringing about the climate emergency and ecological challenges in the region thanks to its fossil fuel and other dirty investments.

“ADB caters to one of the most vulnerable regions in the world in terms of impact of climate change and environmental degradation. Yet in the past few decades, the bank opted to help build now thriving carbon-intensive energy systems in its member countries. This comes at the cost of the health, lives, and livelihood of many communities, and of the now very slim possibility of limiting global temperature rise to the 1.5°C Paris goal. We need ADB to live up to its name and actually help foster sustainable Asian development – which is the kind of development Asia needs,” said Gerry Arances, Convenor of P4P.

Arances is also the Executive Director of Quezon City based think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), which published in September a study offering a critical review of ADB’s energy investments practices and portfolio in the last decade, together with NGO Forum on ADB.

Power for People Coalition
An ADB representative speaks to groups protesting the Bank’s dirty energy legacy

“The fact that coal and other fossil fuels comprise at least half of the energy generation capacity ADB financed in the ten years goes to show that its ‘clean energy agenda’ has really been all talk. ADB needs to correct that, beginning by officially declaring a moratorium on financing coal and setting a phase-out timeline for its fossil gas investments, channelling the bank’s resources instead to systems that would benefit communities most in need, such as microgrids,” Arances added.

For his part, NGO Forum on ADB Executive Director Rayyan Hassan said ADB must use its ongoing Energy Policy updating as opportunity to establish its sustainable development and climate action leadership among other multilateral development banks.

“ADB’s 2009 Energy Policy is draconian and outdated, and we could not wait for it to be replaced with a policy that has a resolute stand against fossil fuels and other destructive energy technologies like thermal waste-to-energy and destructive large-scale hydroplants,” Hassan said.

As a civil society watchdog group for ADB, Forum has been actively engaging the bank in the evaluation of the 2009 policy and is key in amplifying voices from affected communities across Asia to the bank’s leadership, including during ADB’s ongoing 54th Annual Meeting.

“ADB surely would not want to be remembered simply as the bank that failed to properly assess and support Asia’s energy and development needs, whose investments helped turn it instead into a highly polluted, debt-ridden, and poverty-laden region. We would keep watch on the upcoming update of its Energy and other policies, and we hope the bank would truly see this process as opportunity to atone for their dirty legacy and steer the region towards sustainable progress and alignment to the 1.5°C ambition,” Hassan said.

In addition to local and virtual actions, both NGO Forum on ADB and P4P Coalition members have been actively engaging the bank through statements and correspondence, and intend to continue the same throughout the energy policy update process and beyond.

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