ADB Seeks Civil Society Feedback on Water Operations

News Release | 18 November 2005

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB is hosting more than 40 representatives of civil society groups today at ADB Headquarters for the final consultation of the 2005 Comprehensive Water Policy Implementation Review.

Members of prominent civil society groups are presenting case studies on select ADB water projects in the region. Participants, representing knowledge, service, and advocacy organizations, are also sharing their perspectives on specific aspects of ADB's Water for All Policy. The afternoon session includes a roundtable workshop to solicit participants' concerns and recommendations in the key areas of advocacy, governance, knowledge management, capacity building, implementation, and service.

"There has been a clear increasing trend in the involvement of civil society organizations in ADB operations," said Robert J. Dobias, a Director in ADB's Regional and Sustainable Development Department.

"In the mid-1990s, less than one in three loan projects had some level of civil society organization participation. By 2004, that had increased to two in every three loan projects. Civil society organizations have increasingly played key roles in policy dialogues and development, contributing to ADB country strategy and programs as well as loan projects and other business."

As the civil society consultation got underway, around 20 protesters gathered outside ADB's main entrance shortly before 10 a.m. Leading the rally, Freedom from Debt Coalition Vice President Francis Isaac said his organization and ADB have "a good working relationship."

Mr. Isaac told media representatives that the activity is "not an anti-ADB rally... We just want ADB to review and evaluate its water policy, particularly on the issue of privatization." Representatives of Freedom from Debt Coalition are participating in the consultation.

Among the issues expected for discussion today are private sector involvement in water utilities, civil society participation in ADB water projects and advocacy of tariffs at full cost recovery level.

"I expect that we will be hearing today about some of the good and some of the bad. It is right and important that we do so," Mr. Dobias said in his opening remarks to participants.

Today's consultation is the last of a series designed to secure feedback from multiple stakeholders as a part of the comprehensive review of ADB's water policy implementation. To date, ADB has conducted five in-country consultations and two additional consultations at ADB Headquarters. The first meeting was held in Cambodia in June 2005, the second in Republic of Fiji Islands, the third in Indonesia in August 2005, the fourth in Kazakhstan, and the fifth in India in September 2005. A consultation on the private sector was conducted in October 2005.

Members of the panel of experts tasked to conduct the external review of ADB's water policy implementation will also participate.

For more information on ADB's water policy and the comprehensive review process, visit ADB's water website http://www.adb.org/water. For questions and clarifications, contact Kathryn E. Nelson, Lead Facilitator for ADB's Water Policy Implementation Review at knelson@adb.org.