Learning Lessons: ADB's Safeguard Policy
Ensuring that potentially adverse environmental and social impacts from development projects—particularly large-scale infrastructure—are avoided or at least minimized and mitigated is one of the most challenging development interventions. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is institutionally committed to safeguard against these impacts in the projects it supports, and seeks to strengthen the safeguard capabilities of client countries.
Safeguards are in the spotlight amid a review started in July 2014 at the World Bank Group of its safeguards policy and the arrival of two new multilateral lenders for development from the BRICS countries and the People’s Republic of China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. These new sources of finance, in addition to established lenders, will be welcome for helping close infrastructure and other development gaps. But the new lenders will be closely watched for their approach to environmental and social protection in the projects they support.
Against this backdrop, Independent Evaluation’s review of how ADB applied its 2010-launched Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) is timely. The findings and recommendations feed into the ongoing debate on the adequacy of safeguards. And they can provide inputs for the World Bank Group’s review, which will likely influence other financiers and how environmental and social care is applied in projects in the wider development community.