ADB to Expand and Speed Up Access to Information

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – In its drive to increase transparency and accountability, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will expand and speed up the release of information to the public as part of key changes to its Public Communications Policy.

The policy changes 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 updated policy will take effect on 2 April 2012.

“While the feedback we received indicated that ADB’s standards of transparency remain good, we recognize that times have changed, and this revised policy is our response to those changes,” said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.

Among the most significant revisions is the earlier release of information on final proposals for country partnership strategies and sovereign project loans. This information will be made available at the same time as the proposals are circulated to ADB’s Board of Directors for a decision, subject to country consent. Previously, the information was not disclosed until after the board had given final approval.

Policies and strategies that have been drafted after public consultation will also be disclosed when they go to the board for consideration, to further boost transparency. In a step to make information more accessible in countries where ADB works, ADB will also translate its project summaries for loans, grants and project preparatory technical assistance into the national language of the country concerned.

In addition, for the first time, ADB will release audited project accounts of borrowers involved in ADB-financed sovereign projects.

Another important new development is the creation of an independent appeals panel with three international experts to provide a new mechanism of redress for parties who have had requests for information denied.

“We listened to our stakeholders who were asking for an independent tier to review denied requests, which is now a best practice among our comparators,” said Ann Quon, Principal Director of ADB’s Department of External Relations.

In-country communication work will also be expanded, to give the public more information about projects and other ADB activities that could affect their lives.

ADB’s Public Communications Policy acknowledges the public’s right to know about its work and recognizes that transparency is critical for it 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.