Civil Society Participation | Asian Development Bank

Civil Society Participation

ADB cooperates with civil society on three levels: on the policy level, on the country strategy level, and on the level of projects. Over two-thirds of ADB’s sovereign loans, grants, and related project preparatory technical assistance (PPTA) include elements of civil society participation.

Generally ADB does not fund NGOs directly, but instead lends money to its client governments. Civil society organizations wishing to work with ADB should familiarize themselves with the country partnership strategy of the country where they are working and identify if there are contributions that the organization can make to ADB’s work.

Participation on the policy level

Civil society, among other key internal and external stakeholders, is actively consulted in the development and review of institution-wide ADB policies and strategies.

ADB’s review and consultation process aims to identify and consider the views of CSOs and advocacy groups and to ensure that they have reasonable opportunity to be involved in formulating policy and strategy papers.

Public Communication Policy (PCP)

ADB seeks civil society views to improve information disclosure. One of the most significant changes to ADB operations under the PCP is providing information to facilitate greater engagement of affected people in the early stages of project planning and preparation. For example, documents are disclosed in draft form in advance of consultations.

Accountability Mechanism (AM)

Civil society has been providing comments on the review of ADB's Accountability Mechanism (AM). The AM provides access for people adversely affected by ADB-assisted projects to voice and seek solutions to their problems and also report alleged noncompliance with ADB's operational policies and procedures.

Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS)

The new SPS governing the environmental and social safeguards of ADB's operations was informed by more than 4 years of substantive consultations with indigenous peoples and a range of CSOs and advocacy networks, including more than 14 structured workshops at the country and subregional levels across Asia and the Pacific, as well as consultations with NGOs in North America, Western Europe, and Japan.

Participation on the country level

The country partnership strategy (CPS) is the medium-term development strategy and operational program the guides ADB operations in a developing member country. CSOs and advocacy networks are actively consulted in the development and review of the CPS. Previously, CSO consultations generally took place only at the national level. However, in recent years ADB has reached out to local NGOs, CBOs, and other stakeholders located outside the national capital of the country concerned.

Country Partnership Strategy Guidelines

These guidelines underscore the importance of stakeholder consultation at an early stage of the CPS process.  This lets ADB identify priority areas for providing support in the most responsive, relevant, and results-oriented manner to align with the country’s development strategy.

Case study: Nepal

ADB, UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the World Bank held joint country consultations to get insights from a wide range of stakeholders on what role they should play in supporting Nepal's development efforts. All the three agencies have developed their Country Business/Assistance Plans for their programs in Nepal and further sought stakeholder suggestions on how the proposed strategies could be effectively implemented.

Participation on the project level

Civil society participates most directly through ADB’s loan, grant, and technical assistance projects in a number of sectors and thematic areas in ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs) across Asia and the Pacific. A broad range of CSOs and their networks participate throughout ADB’s project cycle in a variety of ways, from sharing information or participating in more involved structured consultations to inform project design, to collaborating directly with ADB and DMC counterparts to help implement projects by serving as project advisors, partners, cofinanciers, or evaluators.

CSOs familiar with the project area and its residents can provide valuable information about local conditions and community priorities during project identification. During the fact-finding stage of project preparatory technical assistance (PPTA), CSOs - particularly those operating at the grassroots level - contribute to an initial stakeholder analysis to determine which groups have an interest in the project, identify their interests and capacities, and determine which of these might support or hinder project implementation.

Guide to Consultation and Participation

The guide explains what constitutes “adequate consultation” and how to apply participatory methods and consultative techniques in ADB-assisted activities. It provides practical tools and tips to make C&P more accessible and effective in improving the performance of ADB operations. The publication targets ADB mission teams and staff working in Resident Missions, but will also prove helpful to consultants, project executing and implementing agencies, and government departments in applying participatory methods.

CSO Sourcebook

This publication provides guidance on how to maximize the benefits of cooperation with CSOs in various operational contexts. It also defines civil society-related terminology, presents numerous examples of ADB-CSO collaboration, offers convenient checklists, and summarizes policy requirements and good practice.

Other forms of participation

Consulting assignments

ADB employs consultants regularly in a wide range of positions. Consultants may be individuals or organizations, including CSOs. CSOs can lend skills and experience to plan, implement and evaluate projects.  The Consulting Services Recruitment Notice (CSRN) provides detailed information on the consulting services required for ADB financed or administered projects.

Annual events

By attending the ADB Annual Meeting, CSOs can engage with ADB on a variety of issues, contribute to policy discussions, and network with many other CSO participants from across the region. ADB welcomes the participation of CSOs including NGOs, labor unions, foundations, professional associations, and other nonprofit organizations.


From time to time, ADB opens different funds to CSOs. Currently only the Pilot and Demonstration Activities of the Cooperation Fund for the Water Sector is accepting applications from CSOs, but if new funds become available, they will be posted on the website of the relevant sector.