The Asian Development Bank's New Public Communications Policy

Feature | 25 October 2011

To increase transparency and accountability ADB has approved revisions to the current policy, expanding and speeding up the release of information to the public.

Key changes include

  • earlier disclosure of core ADB documents, such as final proposals for country partnership strategies and sovereign project loans, subject to country consent.
  • translation of summary project information into relevant national languages.
  • release of project financial statements of borrowers for ADB-financed sovereign projects.
  • strengthening of in-country communications to give the public more information about projects and other ADB activities that could affect their lives.
  • disclosure of proposed policies and strategies that have been drawn up after public consultation, prior to Board consideration.
  • clarification of the disclosure exceptions list, with inclusion of harm-test.
  • creation of an independent appeals panel with three international experts to review information requests denied by ADB.
  • increased dissemination of knowledge products - online and in hard copy - to support the development of knowledge-based economies in the region.
  • disclosure of transcripts of ADB Board meetings upon request after 10 years.

The revised policy also strengthens ADB's communications and engagement with affected people, including women, the poor, and other vulnerable groups,and recognizes that more traditional methods of communication must be applied to reach large groups of stakeholders who do not have access to technology.

Changes to the policy incorporate feedback from over 500 stakeholders in ADB member countries, including governments, the private sector, development partners, civil society, those affected by ADB's projects, academics, and the media.

The policy acknowledges the public's right to know about ADB's work and recognizes that transparency is critical for ADB to be an effective and trustworthy organization. At the same time, it aims to strike a balance between access to information and any potential harm disclosure may cause to particular parties.

While the basic tenets of the 2005 policy remain the same, including the presumption of disclosure, these changes further ADB's aim of proactive disclosure. They will also better enable people to seek, receive, and offer ADB information, insights, and meaningful inputs into project design and implementation to ensure development effectiveness.