ADB's safeguard policy aims to help developing member countries address environmental and social risks in development projects and minimize and mitigate, if not avoid, adverse project impacts on people and the environment.
ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) is the comprehensive articulation of ADB’s safeguard provisions in three areas: environment, involuntary resettlement, and indigenous peoples. Country safeguards systems (CSS) are composed of the policies, practices, legal frameworks and institutions that a country puts in place to avoid, minimize or mitigate potentially adverse environmental and social impacts of development activities. ADB believes that the application of CSS to development projects reduces transaction costs, enhances country ownership and helps ensure long-term sustainability of development efforts.
Use of country safeguards systems is neither automatic nor mandatory. CSS cannot be used on projects that ADB considers highly complex or sensitive.
For ADB to consider the use of country safeguards systems in an ADB project, the developing member country (DMC) must first make an official request to ADB. The DMC must specify at what level it wants to apply the country safeguards systems - national, subnational (e.g., provincial), sector, or agency level.
ADB then conducts equivalence and acceptability assessments to:
The assessments can be conducted for selected safeguard areas, different sectors, and at different administrative levels (national, subnational, sectoral, or agency-wide) and must be undertaken together with in-country consultation and appropriate disclosure. Any gaps in equivalence and acceptability are filled by developing a mutually agreed action plan that brings country safeguards in line with ADB standards throughout the life of the project.
The use of CSS is approved by ADB’s Board of Directors. If ADB agrees to the application of country safeguards systems, it will continue to monitor the implementation of the action plan that brings country safeguards in line with ADB standards throughout the life of the project.
The final and updated equivalence and acceptability assessments are disclosed on ADB’s website as required by ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement 2009 and Public Communications Policy 2011.
ADB applied CSS for the first time with the Power Grid Corporation of India (POWERGRID) in early 2017. That agency level assessment showed that POWERGRID’s environment and social policy and procedures are well aligned with the objectives and principles of ADB’s safeguards policy and it has sufficient capacity to meet ADB’s safeguard standards. Further work is underway with the State Electric Company of Indonesia and work has recently been initiated in Sri Lanka with the Roads Development Authority.
ADB has provided technical assistance (TA) amounting to $45.337 million toward helping countries strengthen and effectively implement CSS since the SPS was approved in 2009.
This TA is designed to support activities that will update the preliminary assessments undertaken in the completed TA on Strengthening and Use of Country Safeguard Systems, consider relevant changes in legislation, and complete the mapping on Indigenous Peoples safeguards.
The Technical assessment is supporting supplementary studies to finalize the review and assessment of the use of CSS by the state electric company of Indonesia. This work is in an advanced stage, the draft assessments have been prepared, and the consultation process is ongoing. ADB board consideration is expected later in the year.
During the 1st quarter 2018, ADB held a country consultation mission with the Sri Lanka Road Development Authority to review the draft country safeguard review outputs for the use of country safeguard systems in ADB-financed projects. Work has been initiated on exploring the equivalence of the national systems with ADB SPS, as well on the acceptability of the national systems. These studies and further review needs to be undertaken on legally binding regulations, strategies, guidelines and good practice manuals.
Further requests are being received by other DMCs and are under preliminary review. Work has been initiated on revising the Reconnaissance-level equivalence assessments conducted under recently concluded TA 7566.
This TA supported activities that help align CSS with international good practices through a series of country-driven subprojects. Moreover, several CSS diagnostic studies, conferences, reports, publications and eLearning modules were undertaken. Reconnaissance-level equivalence assessments for all 40 borrowing DMCs for environment and involuntary resettlement safeguards; and for 22 borrowing DMCs for indigenous peoples safeguards were completed.
TA 7566 builds on the work of TA 6285: Strengthening Country Safeguard Systems (2005–2010) which developed and tested an approach and methodology for reviewing country safeguard systems.
The Country Safeguard Systems Regional Workshop: Towards Common Approaches and Better Results was held on 18–19 April 2012. It was the first ever workshop organized at the regional level to share knowledge and experiences and to promote common approaches and partnerships to strengthen CSS in addressing environmental and social issues. It was attended by representatives from 15 DMCs, 9 bilateral and multilateral agencies, civil society, and the private sector.
Following the success of the first workshop on CSS, the Second Regional Workshop on Strengthening Country Safeguard Systems was organized on 7–9 October 2014. Centered on the main theme of “convergence and alignment,” the workshop pushed further forward on the aim of strengthening CSS toward good international practice. The workshop gathered key partners from government and private sector in the DMCs, international financial institutions, and civil society organizations. About 100 safeguard and relevant professionals shared their experiences on CSS while experts in the field shed light on latest CSS developments and explored ideas in overcoming challenges on convergence and alignment.
A Third Regional Workshop on Country Safeguard Systems was held 10–11 April 2017. This was the final workshop that took stock of lessons learnt, challenges, opportunities and good practices in strengthening the environmental and social safeguards in the region. It was also during this workshop that the Country Safeguards Partnership Framework, envisioned to provide the overarching framework for cooperation between ADB, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank, was launched. After the workshop, the first training on CSS Methodology was conducted for, this included ADB staff and consultants.
ADB has organized other CSS-focused TAs since the Safeguard Policy Statement took effect in 2010. This includes the Regional Workshop on Environmental Impact Assessment in Asia: Good Practices and Capacity Needs held on 9–10 June 2010. The workshop was supported by TA 6285: Strengthening Country Safeguard Systems (closed). The workshop discussed the status of environmental impact assessment (EIA) policy and practice internationally and within the region. The workshop was attended by senior environmental agency officials and technical experts from 20 countries across Asia and the Pacific, international EIA experts, and representatives from multilateral development banks and bilateral agencies.
As of 2 May 2018