Opening Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the Meeting between civil society organizations (CSOs) and ADB Management, 47th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in Astana, Kazakhstan on 2 May 2014 (as drafted).
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It is my great pleasure to meet with so many representatives of civil society. I understand that civil society organizations, or CSOs, from some 34 countries and regions have joined the Annual Meeting.
At ADB's last Annual Meeting, I met with civil society representatives 4 days after assuming the role of ADB President. I am pleased by the very substantial engagement that ADB has enjoyed with civil society organizations over the past year, and I look forward to a meaningful discussion with you this morning.
Before making a few short remarks, I would like to introduce Vice President Bindu Lohani, who is in charge of knowledge management and sustainable development at ADB. Representatives of our NGO and Civil Society Center are also present.
First, I appreciate the diverse turnout of CSOs at our 47th Annual Meeting. I am also pleased to see strong representation of civil society from Central Asia, from labor unions, and also youth groups. With 60% of the population in Asia and the Pacific under the age of 24, it is very important that young people are participating in these activities.
Second, in relation to the participation of young people, I want to talk about youth debate. In the weeks leading up to this Annual Meeting, ADB has been supporting a Central Asian youth debating competition named "Partnerships beyond Borders." Congratulations to the youth debaters here today who will join the final rounds of the competition as part of the Annual Meeting Civil Society Program.
Third, about our Mid-term Review. I wish to thank CSOs from all over Asia and the Pacific for your important contributions to the recently concluded Mid-term Review of ADB's long-term strategy – Strategy 2020. The review analyzed lessons learned through implementing Strategy 2020, and assessed current and emerging challenges of ADB's developing member countries.
CSOs raised many valuable issues during the Mid-term Review consultations. ADB has committed to addressing these through improved collaboration with CSOs. For example the Mid-term Review, approved by ADB's Board of Directors on 23 April 2014, states that*:
CSOs will be more actively involved in the design and implementation of projects, particularly those that use grassroots participatory approaches to development, and in the monitoring of project activities and outputs.
CSOs' inputs and advice will be sought on the implementation of ADB's safeguard policies.
CSOs will also be proactively consulted on major policy reviews.
Fourth, I would like to inform you that ADB is already looking carefully at improving our commercial contracting arrangements with CSOs and studying our CSO partnering processes. These initiatives directly respond to inputs from CSOs during the Mid-term review consultations.
Fifth, I note that the first Civil Society Panel at this Annual Meeting will address the important connection between Strategy 2020 and the Post-MDG 2015 Agenda. I thank the NGO Forum on ADB for organizing this important discussion.
I would now like to open the floor to your questions and comments. Thank you.
* ADB will work with a wide range of partners, including CSOs. Business process constraints to engagement with CSOs, such as CSOs being subject to ADB's standard consultant recruitment procedures and contractual arrangements, will be identified and addressed. Greater opportunities for direct engagement of CSOs (and international organizations) on knowledge activities and with ADB projects may then be explored, while ensuring transparency and competition. CSOs will be more actively involved in the design and implementation of projects, particularly those that use grassroots participatory approaches to development, and in the monitoring of project activities and outputs. Their inputs and advice will be sought on the implementation of ADB's safeguard policies. CSOs will also be proactively consulted on major policy reviews.