Opening remarks by ADB Vice President Bambang Susantono at Civil Society Plasa Celebration at the 51st ADB Annual Meeting on 4 May 2018 in Manila, Philippines

Good morning everyone. Magandang umaga.

Two days ago, I was here to welcome you on the ADB consultation of Strategy 2030. Yesterday, ADB’s President met and had a discussion with many, if not all, of you in this place.

Today’s setting is different! It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to the Civil Society Plasa Celebration.

Today’s program draws inspiration from the Filipino concept of “plasa,” or public square. It is an open space where citizens gather to meet and engage. The plasa is the heart of a town or city, because it is here where citizens engage and start getting involved in the life of their community. It is in the plasa where people celebrate, and where citizens assemble when there is a need to share and discuss important community concerns.

A town plasa is also a marketplace where people trade goods. In a similar way, the Civil Society Plasa, as we see here today, is a marketplace of ideas. Here is an open space for dialogue, knowledge exchange, and sharing of lessons among civil society groups and other development practitioners. Appreciation of the Value Additions from CSOs

I welcome leaders and representatives from civil society organizations or CSOs, which operate in many of our developing member countries. I am delighted to see 16 exhibitors – coming from national NGOs from the Philippines, international NGOs, as well as a regional network of NGOs all the way from Fiji.

I personally believe that ADB’s success depends on its ability to combine finance and knowledge with innovative approaches to development. Participation of CSOs in our programs and projects bring about innovative solutions and better development results. ADB would like to learn from your rich experience in promoting inclusiveness as you build on principles that place people—particularly the poor and marginalized—at the center of the development process.

Ongoing and Continuous Engagement with CSOs (Examples)

Let me give you some examples of our ADB experiences:

  • In Sri Lanka, community-based organizations were consulted in the design of ADB’s Road Investment Program. Participatory approaches are helping determine people’s needs and concerns to enhance project benefits and mitigate negative impacts.
  • Another example in Timor-Leste, ADB is working with NGOs, farmers, and youth through an innovative solution to develop the country’s coffee industry, to become a key contributor to inclusive growth and sustainable development. ADB is working with the government and the NGO, Timor-Leste Coffee Association in this project.


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

A series of panel discussions and short talks have been organized in this Plasa, focusing on the role of CSOs in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals or the SDGs. We recognize the importance of civil society and NGOs in the SDGs, and I am sure that all of us will have much to learn from the knowledge sharing that we will have today. Again, welcome to the Civil Society Plasa. Enjoy the Plasa.

I wish you all to have a very good time.

Thank you.


  • Susantono, Bambang
    Susantono, Bambang
    Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development