Climate Change

ADB's Safeguard Policy Revision Facing Criticism from Environmental Activists

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The Asian Development Bank's (ADB) safeguard policy revision, under review since 2020 and set to conclude by mid-2024, is being closely watched by environmental activists for its perceived shortcomings in addressing community and environmental concerns. While the draft policy appears to expand its scope with doubled environmental and social standards (ESS) covering crucial topics like climate change and labor standards, there are concerns that more standards do not necessarily translate to better protection for impacted communities.

One of the major issues highlighted by critics is in the proposed safeguard standard ESS3, which aims to conserve resources and prevent pollution but may fall short in ensuring actual protection due to its focus on balancing development objectives, particularly with an increasing involvement of the private sector. These critics argue that by allowing unavoidable adverse impacts to be offset through compensatory measures, the policy may enable project proponents to continue activities that harm communities and the environment.

Environmental activists have also criticized the draft safeguard policy for its potential acceptance of harmful practices such as pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as tradable commodities, a move that could undermine efforts to combat climate change and biodiversity loss. Additionally, the policy's reliance on offsets in past ADB-funded projects has been flagged as problematic, with examples like the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Venture facing community opposition, legal challenges, and doubts on its climate mitigation performance, raising concerns about the effectiveness of such mechanisms.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09