Nov 22, 2021 by Coalition
Nov 22, 2021 by members
On November 19, more than 70 civil society organizations from across the African continent and international supporters addressed a letter to the African Development Bank (AfDB), to raise their concerns about the review process of its Integrated Safeguard System (ISS) and to demand a more transparent, comprehensive, and inclusive consultation process.
Re: Stakeholder consultation in the Integrated Safeguard System review
We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to express our support for the AfDB’s review of its Integrated Safeguard System (ISS) and to raise some concerns about the review process. We are civil society organizations (CSOs) from across the African continent and international supporters, working to promote accountability in international development finance and advance the interests of communities in the implementation of development projects. We work to monitor the activities, processes and projects of different International Financial Institutions (IFIs), including the African Development Bank (AfDB) to promote inclusion, effective stakeholder engagement, access to information, environmental sustainability, and accountability for improved project performance and outcomes and prevention of harm in our countries.
We previously wrote in June 2021 to Mr. Issa Maman-Sani, Director of the Department of Environmental and Social Safeguards and Compliance, to welcome the ISS review and to share our recommendations for a comprehensive and inclusive consultation process, based on our experiences participating in other MDBs’ reviews of their core environmental and social policies (AfDB in 2011-2012; World Bank in 2012-2016; EBRD in 2018; IDB Invest in 2019; IDB in 2020; ADB in 2021; EIB Group in 2021). The ISS review presents an opportunity for the AfDB to upgrade its policies and practices to align with the highest international standards and reflect the goals of the AfDB as well as the needs and rights of the people, communities and regional member countries with whom it collaborates. To achieve this aim, hearing from civil society stakeholders and communities, who are the ultimate beneficiaries and stakeholders of development, is essential.
Following Mr. Maman-Sani’s response to our letter on June 21 affirming that the AfDB will launch a consultation process “in the near future” with civil society and other stakeholders as part of the review, no public information about the review has been posted on the AfDB’s website, and we have not received any further details about the AfDB’s proposed consultation process with external stakeholders.
Given the many critical issues at stake in the upcoming review, it is essential that the review proceeds in an appropriate timeframe that recognizes the urgent need to strengthen and expand the AfDB’s safeguard system, yet also provides for systematic and meaningful consultation with civil society, communities directly impacted by AfDB-financed development projects, marginalized groups, and the full range of stakeholders and rights holders who have an interest in the ISS review. The AfDB’s recent review of the Independent Review Mechanism is an example of a recent AfDB policy review process that was inclusive of stakeholder views and provided space for active and informed participation, and we see that many elements of this process could be emulated for the ISS review. We are concerned that the coming months between November and January are particularly busy for civil society in the region with end of year commitments and holidays, and that if a consultation process is launched before the end of the year, it must take into consideration these limitations and build additional time into the process for public review and engagement.
We ask that you use your role as AfDB President to prioritize a comprehensive, inclusive consultation process as part of this critical review process. Reiterating a summary of the recommendations we shared in our June 2021 letter, we urge the AfDB to:
Finally, as an immediate step, we would like to request a meeting with you and the Environmental and Social Safeguards and Compliance Department, to further discuss the above and other issues regarding the ISS review at your earliest convenience.
We trust that the external stakeholder consultation process will adhere to the principles of openness, access to information, transparency, accountability, visibility and accessibility.
We look forward to further engaging with the President, the Department of Environmental & Social Safeguard and Compliance and the AfDB at large towards an effective and inclusive ISS review process. We thank you for considering our recommendations. For further information or questions, please contact: