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Civil Society Program

Unpacking the Delivery of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement

Civil Society Panel (NGO Forum on ADB)
Saturday, 4 May 2019, 10:00 am–12:00 pm, Westin, Senirosi Rua

Unpacking the Delivery of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement


Prem Lal BhatiaSecretary, All Himachal PWD-IPH & Contractual Workers Union

Rayyan HassanExecutive Director, NGO Forum on ADB

Rayyan Hassan is a Bangladeshi national and the current executive director of the NGO Forum on ADB. He has a background in environmental studies (NSU, Dhaka, Bangladesh) and a master's in social change and development (UOW, Australia). He is currently pursuing a doctorate in political science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman as he oversees the NGO Forum on ADB network and its campaigns. As a civil society advocate he regularly engages policymakers at the ADB and AIIB and their major shareholders, bringing community issues to the forefront of the development debate. Through the support and guidance of the Forum International Committee, he continues to forge new alliances and implements campaigns with civil society groups at local, regional, and global platforms. His work in the Forum remains steadfast in underscoring the importance of environmental and social justice and holding international financial institutions accountable.

Walter KolkmaDirector, Country and Thematic Evaluation Division, Independent Evaluation Department, ADB

Walter Kolkma joined ADB's Independent Evaluation Department in November 2011 as director of Division 1, responsible for evaluations in social sectors including water supply and sanitation, public sector management, agriculture, and natural resource management. Mr. Kolkma is a Dutch national with 10 years of experience in ADB, having joined in 2001. He worked for 7 years as an evaluation specialist, and 3 years as a results management specialist in the Strategy and Policy Department, where he was team leader of the scorecard-based Development Effectiveness Review report. Before ADB, Mr. Kolkma worked for the Free University Amsterdam, UNDP, Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation, OXFAM-Novib, and Arcadis BMB. He had long-term assignments in Pakistan, Lebanon, and the Sudan. He holds a PhD degree from Wageningen University in the subject of the planning and monitoring of public investment programs.

Annabel PerrerasAdvocacy Coordinator on AIIB, NGO Forum on ADB

Annabel S. Perreras advocates on issues of international financial institutions’ accountability, human rights, and community engagement. Before joining the NGO Forum on ADB, she was a recipient of the Emerging Global Leaders Initiative Atlas Corps fellowship, which based her at the International Accountability Project in Washington, D.C. for a year. As the policy coordinator at IAP, she contributed to the flagship early warning system program aimed at providing community support and project information to potentially affected communities before board approval. Previously, Ms. Perreras was the policy officer of the Forum for two years. She worked with local partner CSOs in filing complaints in ADB’s Accountability Mechanism, and was involved in the safeguards evaluation process of ADB. She was a junior program officer at the League of Cities of the Philippines for 3 years, handling projects to improve the state of maternal health in the country and to make cities resilient and competitive, among others. She has a bachelor's degree in political science and a diploma in urban and regional planning.

Rajeev SharmaSouth Asia Projects Director, Building and Wood Workers International

Woochong UmDirector General and concurrently Chief Compliance Officer, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, ADB

Woochong Um leads ADB-wide knowledge management and innovation in various thematic and sector operation areas. He is responsible for developing sector and thematic policies, strategies, frameworks, and operational plans; encouraging vibrant sector and thematic communities of practice; and developing new business ideas. He also looks after ADB’s compliance with environment and social safeguards. Mr. Um has master’s degree in business administration from the New York University Stern School of Business, and a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Boston College.

Hemantha WithanageExecutive Director, Centre for Environmental Justice

Hemantha Withanage is a co-founder and the executive director of Centre for Environmental Justice. He also serves as an executive member of the Friends of the Earth International (FOEI). He is also the convener of the Sri Lankan Working Group on Trade and International Financial Institutions. Previously, he was executive director of NGO Forum on ADB. Mr. Withanage also served in various positions at the Environmental Foundation Ltd., starting in 1990. He was instrumental in building the Environmental Foundation Ltd. up to become a leading NGO in Sri Lanka. He was an active member of the following international committees and networks during the past years: Executive Committee of the FOEI, Steering Committee of Oilwatch, the FOEI Working Group on Water, FOEI ADB Task Group. He has been a member of the Environmental Law Alliance–Worldwide since 1991.


Avril De TorresResearch and Policy Head, Center for Energy, Ecology and Development

Avril De Torres is an environmental and energy lawyer from the Philippines. She is the research and policy head of the NGO Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED). Ms. De Torres was a panelist at a COP 24 side event entitled "From Local Approaches to (Inter)national Policy: Gender Just Transition and Decent Work." Discussing how the energy landscape in the global south looks like today, Ms. De Torres investigated the mistaken notion that coal expansion is a form of development, with many of people vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change. Promoting energy democracy and a just transition to a fossil-free future are the true faces of development, providing opportunities for transformation among marginalized sectors of society.

Seminar Summary

ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) promotes sustainability of project outcomes by protecting the environment and people from projects' potential adverse impacts. The forum discussed issues and concerns related to the implementation of SPS in ADB-supported projects. Panelists highlighted challenges with national instruments, environmental laws, and social safeguard mechanisms of selected borrowing countries, which are not always able to uphold ADB’s SPS standards. The session also highlighted ADB’s efforts to strengthen the implementation of the SPS by adding more safeguard staff positions and supporting safeguard learning centers and other capacity development activities. The panel also noted that ADB’s Independent Evaluation Department is currently undertaking a review of the SPS that will consider its implementation effectiveness.