ADB annual meeting in Incheon, South Korea

Jakarta, May 5 – During the Asian Development Bank’s Annual General Meeting in South taking place this week in South Korea, the Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development (KPPII) would like to reiterate its call for the ADB to ensure that it conducts meaningful public consultations with civil society organisations working to ensure environmental and social protection. KPPII is disappointed in the ADB’s intentional withholding of consultation meeting minutes despite civic actors’ request for transparency, and calls on the bank to take the perspectives of civil society organisations into account.

We acknowledge that the ADB conducted face-to-face in-country public consultations regarding the Safeguard Policy Review in Jakarta, Indonesia, which was an improvement to previous consultations that were held online and whose recordings were published on YouTube without the consent of the participants, despite the risk of reprisals. It was also encouraging that there was no direct involvement of elements of the Indonesian government during the consultation process.

However, the public consultation meetings in Jakarta could not be deemed meaningful. Civil society organisations put forward suggestions regarding the agenda that were not taken into consideration by the ADB safeguard team. KPPII’s important suggestion to prioritize the discussion of the Country Safeguard System (CSS) was not accommodated during the in-person meeting, and the ADB only provided NGOs with the chance to discuss CSS during an online meeting with insufficient time to provide input, ask clarifying questions, or raise key issues with the bank.

The SPR consultation process in Jakarta had a myriad of other problems. The quality of translators was poor – they  did not understand the context or the technical terms which made it difficult for Indonesian participants to understand the ADB team’s explanation. The moderator, who was supposed to be neutral, favored the ADB team. In addition to that, the ADB Indonesia Resident Mission staff behaved disgracefully, laughing in the face of civil society representatives who were raising serious issues to their attention. This shows a lack of empathy and respect for CSO participants who attended the meeting and of the communities throughout Indonesia they work with to ensure they are not harmed by development projects.

The ADB also failed to disclose key information relating to the consultations. One of our demands prior to the SPR public consultation in Jakarta was the disclosure of the minutes of the consultation process. This is crucial to ensure that the responses and comments of the participants are correctly and fully documented, without manipulation or errors.

Despite submitting requests for the SPR consultation minutes more than  four times, colleagues from KPPII were deliberately left out of follow-up emails disclosing the minutes to the consultation meeting participants. It took months before KPPII members received the draft minutes. This experience has led us to conclude that ADB failed to implement adequate information disclosure.

Upon reviewing the draft minutes, KPPII discovered that there are key interventions and facts shared by civil society participants that were not documented correctly. There were errors that merit correction. In addition to that, there was no detailed record of civil society comments from the online consultation focusing on the adoption of CSS on 6 February 2023.

Therefore, in our opinion, the ADB fell short in social and protection practices during the Safeguard Policy Review process. Specifically, they faced challenges in adequately implementing the principles of meaningful public consultation and information disclosure.

The Indonesia Infrastructure Development Monitoring Coalition is a coalition of civil society organizations that work with the community to encourage and ensure that the development process in Indonesia realizes ecological justice, social justice, and respect for human rights.

Contact persons of KPPII: – Satya Bumi – WALHI Jawa Barat