Africa-wide consultation on AfDB’s new Integrated Safeguards System

13/04/2012
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First regional consultation shows AfDB’s commitment to environmental and social sustainability

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has embarked on a consultation exercise across Africa on its proposed Integrated Safeguards System (ISS).  It is conferring with governments and representatives of civil society and the private sector.

Five regional consultation sessions are planned.The first session was held in Nairobi between 11 and 13 April 2012, covering the East Africa region.The AfDB’s resident representatives and associated AfDB staff in the region also attend the consultations, bringing their operational experience and knowledge of country systems to bear in order to harmonize and align them with AfDB policies and procedures.

Revising and improving the AfDB’s environmental and social safeguards policies and procedures will ensure the sustainability of its interventions in favour of the economic and social development of the people in the regional member countries. The proposed Operational Safeguards (OS) have already benefitted from extensive internal consultations with AfDB staff.

The AfDB has also consulted with its international partners and other multilateral finance institutions.  Preliminary drafts of the ISS were presented to key international organizations, such as the Bank Information Center in the USA, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, Conservation International, the International Trade Union Commission and the World Bank. Their comments and suggestions were incorporated in the draft which was submitted to the AfDB Boards and management and subsequently disclosed.

The current draft of the ISS and the related OS draft have been presented to, and peer reviewed by, the Multilateral Finance Institutions’ Working Group on Environment in December 2011 in Thessaloniki, Greece, in particular by the World Bank.

Given its mandate related to Africa’s sustainable development, the AfDB needs to account for ecological implications and their impacts on social conditions and livelihoods of populations. This is the major reason why the AfDB has paid particular attention to transparent and inclusive preparation, as well as coordinated implementation of the revision of the safeguards policies and procedures.

The first day of the Nairobi consultation was devoted to presentations on the process and approach in developing the ISS, and on the principles which governed the selection of the OS during plenary sessions.  Breakout sessions were organized on the second and third day to present in detail and discuss the five proposed Operational Safeguards on Environmental and Social Assessment, Involuntary Resettlement, labour conditions, pollution control, and biodiversity and ecosystem services.   

Mr Gabriel Negatu, Director of the Regional Resource Center of the East Africa Region (EARC), chaired the first day. In his opening and keynote address he emphasized that this is the “perfect time to engage with all stakeholders and let the word harmonization go out” as he called the various stakeholder groups to contribute ideas that will strengthen the applicability of the system to their own countries and communities.

The Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Environment, represented by Mrs Agnes C. Yobterik, Director of Programs, Projects and Strategic Initiatives, welcomed the AfDB and the various representatives of African stakeholder organizations in Kenya on behalf of the Permanent Secretary and praised the consultations as a unique opportunity for stakeholders to understand and own the ISS.

Dr Anthony Nyong, Manager of the Safeguards and Compliance Division, facilitated the public debates and plenary sessions.  He embraced among other considerations the introduction of Operational Safeguards in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and principles for the improvement of labour conditions in AfDB-funded projects, as well as social considerations regarding the full integration of human rights principles, especially around issues related to involuntary resettlement and indigenous people.

Key stakeholders appear to rate the first consultation as a success, based on the trustworthy and truly transparent and inclusive approach adopted by the Quality Assurance Department in conducting the review of Bank’s safeguards policies and procedures. This recognition follows and aligns with the opinion and views of experts from the multilateral development banks which have been involved in the peer review of early drafts.

In their opinion, the AfDB is viewed as building a world class safeguards system, which has dealt with emerging issues such as mainstreaming of mitigation and adaptation to climate.

The second consultation will cover the South Africa region between 16 and 18 April in Lusaka. The Bank will then organize two other sessions for Central Africa in Libreville, Gabon and Abuja, Nigeria respectively on 9 to 11 and 15 to 17 May. The regional consultation process will be concluded in Rabat, Morocco, between 12 and 14 June, 2012.

The views from the consultations will be integrated into a revised version of the ISS which will be disclosed before presentation to the Board during the third quarter of 2012.


Comments

Austin Tibu - Malawi 29/04/2012 20:44
A promising and simple safeguard system that the Bank is putting forward to its member countries. I suggest the Bank to include the ISS as part of the project preparation steps similar to the procurement and financial capacity building processes. The bank should emphasize the ISS awareness as it does with procurement and financial issues before rolling out it resources to borrowers.
Elinasi Monga - Tanzania 13/04/2012 19:30
I was happy to be among people who attended this meeting. The bank has good intention, sustainable development of the continent. I am sure in the end the bank will come up with very good document, but CSO's, NGO's etc must be watchdogs, helping the bank and communities in making sure the borrowers are complying with the safeguards..otherwise the whole efforts and resources bank has invested to prepare these safeguards will be useless and our environment and communities will be at high risk
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