05 May 2012
on the occasion of the ADB's 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, Manila, Philippines
The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) challenged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to promote rights not just growth, and genuine development not destruction. This is in response to ADB's planned "inclusive", "green", and "knowledge-led growth", approach to confronting the escalating poverty and inequality in the region through increased liberalization, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and regional integration tackled in the Bank's 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors.
No Rights, No Growth
No kind of growth, whether inclusive, green, or knowledge-based will represent true 'development' unless it is driven by, reflects and empowers those affected by it. Development must enable the poor to claim their political, economic, social and cultural rights.
For the ADB, "inclusive growth" means increasing access to services and opportunities so that more households, farmers, and small business owners can participate in and benefit from growth. But a truly inclusive growth cannot be achieved without putting the poor and marginalized in the driving seat of development. However, history shows that ADB projects have been in the interest of business, and have resulted in spiraling poverty, marginalization, and worsening environmental degradation. Knowledge-generation will not aid development if tightly controlled by Intellectual Property Rights and thus not available to the general public. Green growth has at its heart the commodification of nature and short-term, unsustainable technological fixes, which likewise will enrich the few at the expense of the poor.
Genuine development, not destruction!
While the ADB reaffirms its intent to address the rising inequality that threatens to leave millions behind in Asia's economic growth, APRN believes that the ADB's predominantly market-centric policies mean it will continue to be labelled "Asia's Destructive Bank". Since its founding in 1966, ADB projects have repeatedly been shown to have had negative impacts on the people they are slated to help, with supposedly pro-poor visions having anti-poor outcomes. Farmers, fisher folk, the urban poor and indigenous peoples, among others, have been sunk into debt, poverty and food insecurity, and forcefully evicted from their lands.
Part of the ADB's "new" strategy is to promote the corporatization of public utilities. APRN believes this represents the continuation of a disturbing trend. The ADB has previously supported the privatization of water – among other key public services such as health, education and transportation – with a resultant reduction in access to water for communities. In Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines, there has been reduced access to water after privatization, while unaccountable private companies have reaped profits.
The ADB should address these cases and pay attention to the calls based on several other systematic researches and studies on the impacts of ADB-funded projects in the region by civil society and people's organizations.
Heed the people's demands, be accountable!
The peoples of the Asia Pacific, through a peoples' tribunal held in 2009, judged the ADB guilty of causing massive socio-economic displacement, supporting dictatorial regimes and violating peoples' political and civil rights, sovereignty, and right to self-determination through policy conditionalities.
APRN challenges the ADB to be accountable for all these and reiterates the Asia Pacific peoples' demands to:
End the privatization of water and public utilities and other anti-people policies, including debt, among others
Write-off all illegitimate loans and obligations of debtor governments
Uphold the rule of law of law, respect civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of the people, and desist from adopting policies or measures that restrict, infringe upon, or impair such rights
Compensate the victims of ADB violations; rehabilitate the economies of the countries and livelihoods of the people damaged by the ADB; restitute the peoples of Asia of the environmental, material, personal, and moral damages that have resulted from the implementation of immoral, unjust and inhumane policies
Along with government respondents, issue a sincere public apology to the plaintiffs as well as to the other oppressed and exploited peoples of the world, and cease and desist from implementing anti-people ADB policies and projects.