Opening Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the Civil Society Organizations and ADB Management Meeting at the 52nd ADB Annual Meeting on 2 May 2019 in Fiji
Good morning. I would like to extend a warm welcome to our Civil Society Organization (CSO) partners.
This is the first time ADB has held its Annual Meeting in a Pacific developing member country. Pacific island countries have always been an important focus for ADB, and we will continue to provide financial and knowledge support for the region. Two areas of emphasis for us in the Pacific are ocean health and sustainable tourism, both of which are topics at this Annual Meeting.
Last year at ADB’s 51st Annual Meeting in Manila, many of you shared your views on our draft Strategy 2030, which was designed to set our long-term direction in response to the region’s challenges and opportunities. I thank all of you for your constructive comments. They were a key part of our consultation process with stakeholders that began in October 2015.
Strategy 2030 was approved by ADB’s Board of Directors in July 2018. Through our new corporate strategy, we will continue to work with CSOs—tapping your unique strengths, local presence, and specialized knowledge in the design and implementation of projects. ADB recognizes the valuable contribution of CSOs in development programs by using grassroots participatory approaches to target poor and vulnerable groups.
To implement Strategy 2030, ADB is preparing operational plans for seven priority areas. Recognizing the value addition of our stakeholders, these plans have been made publicly available on our website since 8 April 2019 for feedback, and yesterday there was a dialogue on them with our stakeholders, including CSOs.
Thank you to those who participated in these discussions. I hear we had close to 140 CSO attendees who actively engaged with us on the operational priorities. Among many important issues you shared yesterday, the following three points, in particular, caught my attention:
- More emphasis on engaging with people and communities in the operational plans;
- Potential impact of digital technology on jobs and employment; and,
- The need to do more on climate change, particularly the use of renewable energy.
We will continue to welcome feedback until 15 June, after which we will work to finalize the seven operational plans.
CSO participation in ADB projects
Over the years, CSOs have improved the quality of our projects and programs by sharing their local knowledge and expertise. Let me highlight two examples where CSOs have been making strong contributions, particularly in the Pacific region.
First, ADB has been cooperating with NGOs in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu to help promote coastal and marine resources management in the Coral Triangle. Our cooperation has led to greater food security in these five Pacific countries.
Second, in Papua New Guinea, national and community-based NGOs have been involved in improving rural primary health in eight provinces. CSOs have delivered community engagement activities and organized village-level training programs that have touched on important health concerns such as child and maternal health, sanitation, and healthy lifestyles.
Transparency and accountability
Next, let me turn to transparency, accountability, and CSO engagement, on which ADB places the utmost importance.
I am proud to share that in 2018 we were ranked first by the Aid Transparency Initiative among multilateral and bilateral donor organizations. Also, last year we approved our new Access to Information Policy, which is based on presumption in favor of disclosure.
ADB has also introduced procurement reforms, including for consultants, to achieve greater flexibility in our contracting processes. We anticipate this will lead to more efficient CSO engagement in our projects. At a recent Business Opportunities Fair held at ADB this past March, we had a record number of CSO participants who expressed interest in working on ADB-supported projects as consultants.
I would like to close by thanking CSOs for your active involvement and participation in the development of Asia and the Pacific.
The Civil Society Program this year follows the Pacific custom of Talanoa, which refers to a conversation, storytelling, and sharing of ideas. Over the next three days, I trust that you will share your rich development experiences and expertise with peers, partners, and other development actors.
I am happy now to take your questions.