In 2010 the African Development Bank (AfDB) committed to develop new ‘safeguard standards’. These are policies which are intended to provide the Bank and its borrowers with a framework to assess and mitigate social and environmental risk. In so doing, the Bank is following the lead of other regional multilateral development banks (Asian, European, Inter-American) and the World Bank and International Finance Corporation.
In June this year, indigenous peoples’ organisations (under the umbrella of the Civil Society Coalition on the AfDB) submitted a detailed and comprehensive report to the African Development Bank. This report presents strong arguments in favour of the development of a specific policy designed to safeguard the interests and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in AfDB-financed projects. A sign-on letter supported by indigenous organisations from throughout the continent was also submitted to the Bank in June.
Unfortunately, the African Development Bank has now released a draft Integrated Safeguard Statement which does not contain any specific operational requirements to protect the interests or rights of indigenous peoples. If approved in its current form, AfDB will remain the only multilateral development bank without a specific policy that recognises and defends the rights of indigenous peoples. It is hoped that the Bank will extend the consultation period for this policy process and allow effective input by the region’s indigenous peoples.
In the first quarter of 2013 Forest Peoples Programme will be publishing a special edition of this e-news bulletin focused exclusively on the safeguard policies of publicly funded development banks, including a broad look at the currently on-going World Bank review and update of its own set of safeguard policies.