15 June 2021

YONGPING ZHAI

Chief of Energy Sector Group

Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department (SDCC)

Asian Development Bank

Dear Dr. Zhai,

Congratulations on convening this virtual Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2021 amid challenging conditions related to the ongoing pandemic. In this context, we write to raise specific concerns after having been informed on June 7th of a potential window within ACEF for a virtual discussion session on the ADB Energy Policy scheduled for June 15th.

We have been discussing the ACEF engagement with you since last year, and as we had hoped that we would be provided meaningful options for engagement, we were looking forward to your response. We regret to inform you that we are declining to engage in this dialogue based on our assessment of the platform, timing, and the lack of clarity in the way it is being rolled out. As a network of civil society groups and communities from across Central, South, and Southeast Asia as well the Pacific region and beyond, we do not consider this transparent, inclusive, meaningful opportunity for a consultation. 

Below, our key contentions related to the procedural lack of clarity and the limitations of the digital platform are elaborated.

On Process

Firstly, in regards to the process surrounding the coordination of this virtual session:

Forum member groups have been diligently checking the ADB’s website on the Energy Policy updates section over the past few weeks, waiting to see when more information would be available about scheduling civil society consultations, inclusive of all regions. Based on the stated intention by SDCC to designate a session during this year’s ACEF for an open, participatory civil society consultation during our dialogue on June 4th, Forum members have additionally been monitoring the ACEF website to remain alert as to when such a dialogue would be allocated and how they could participate in providing input from their respective groups. Disappointingly, despite the assurances provided at that time by SDCC, the given session within ACEF was not publicly identified on the website until Friday, June 11th.

Most significantly, it has never been clarified how the input provided during a moderated panel and moderated Q&A session would be duly accounted for and reflected as suggested revisions on the energy policy draft. Nor has it been clear if the SDCC intends to pitch it as the time when input from the Asian CSOs was provided, thereby limiting further engagement opportunities.

Consultation Platform Used

The chosen platform for the consultation is a conference app and thus has a minimal function if used for consultation. As per information from the technical coordinator of the event, the participants can only send their questions via chatbox and cannot participate via voice or dialogue. Also, quoting the technical advisor, ‘it is just one way and does not function like Zoom Meeting.’

In addition, the only individuals who will have access to microphones are the speakers, and those attending can only use the chatbox section of the platform, which the Bank moderates all incoming content. There is also the limitation of translation; the platform does not have translation options for local groups or impacted communities.

To continue our constructive collaboration around the ADB Energy Policy review, we hope to reconvene a consultation later. In the meantime, we are closely reading the draft policy and will be sharing with you our comments shortly. It would be effective to have a deeper dive after you have received our formal comments so we may have a more comprehensive and constructive discussion.

Respectfully,

Rayyan Hassan

Executive Director

NGO Forum on ADB

Endorsed by:

Aksi! for gender, social and ecological justice, Indonesia
Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD)
Association Green Alternative, Georgia
Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED), Bangladesh
Building and Wood Worker’s International, Asia Pacific
CEE Bankwatch Network
Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Philippines
Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka
Change Initiative, Bangladesh
CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network), Bangladesh
Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Peru
Environics Trust, India
Environmental public society, Armenia
Equitable Cambodia, Cambodia
Freedom from Debt Coalition, Philippines
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Asia Pacific
Growthwatch, India
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), India
Initiative for Right View, Bangladesh
International Rivers
KRuHA – people’s coalition for the right to water, Indonesia
Nash Vek Public Foundation, Kyrgyzstan
Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia
Recourse, Europe
Rivers without Boundaries Coalition, Mongolia
Solidaritas Perempuan (Women’s Solidarity for Human Rights)
Youth Group on Protection of Environment, Tajikistan

Cc:

  1. Office of the President
  2. Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development
  3. Vice-President for Private Sector and Public-Private Partnerships
  4. Vice-President for Administration and Corporate Management
  5. Vice-President for Finance and Risk Management
  6. Vice-President Operations 1 & 2
  7. Office of the Managing Director-General
  8. Director-General, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change Department
  9. Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Division
  10. Director, Safeguards Division
  11. Director-General of Independent Evaluation Department
  12. Director, Thematic, and Country Division
  13. Chair, Compliance Review Panel (CRP)
  14. Head, NGO and Civil Society Center
  15. Deputy Director-General, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department
  16. Principal Safeguards Specialist, Portfolio, Results and Quality Control Unit
  17. All Executive Directors
  18. All Alternate Executive Directors

 

You may also read the letter in the NGO Forum on ADB website.