APHEDA takes asbestos campaign to the head of ADB

by May 30, 2019Asbestos, Frontpage0 comments

In early May 2019, our Australia-based Ban Asbestos Campaign Coordinator, Emma Bacon, attended the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Annual Meeting in Fiji to raise the issue of the Bank’s continuing financing of asbestos through their development projects. We coordinated with regional networks to raise the issue directly with the President of the ADB Takehiko Nakao and senior staff.

Purpose of ADB’s Annual Meetings

The Annual Meetings are designed for the Governors of the ADB to provide guidance on administrative, financial and operational directions. They facilitate engagement between ADB staff, member governments, civil society groups and trade unions, media and the private sector.

The ADB finances projects across the region with a focus on economic growth via loans, grants, technical assistance and investments. Critics of the bank’s practices oppose the focus on privatisation and Public Private Partnerships, a lack of accountability and transparency and ongoing funding of fossil fuel energy generation. Global Union Federations have been calling on the bank to create a ‘Labour Desk’ to institutionalise engagement with unions and protection of the rights of workers, but have been met with stubborn opposition.

Pacific leaders raise Gender-Based Violence and Climate-Related Disasters

Fijian civil society was represented by people from a broad range of organisations, from unions to community leaders. The session on Gender-Based Violence and the Rise in Climate-Related Disasters:  Applying CSO Insights to Multilateral Investments in Asia and the Pacific featured speakers from Pacific Island civil society, women’s rights and LGBTI organisations. The speaker from FemLINKPACIFIC spoke about their program for alerting women about natural disasters through community leadership networks and tracking gendered violence that occurs during emergencies.

Development cannot compromise worker’s health and safety

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA is calling on the Asian Development Bank to update the Safeguard Policy Statement to include all asbestos products as prohibited investment activities. Continuing to use asbestos in infrastructure and other projects will condemn communities to decades of health and safety risks.

The Building Woodworkers International union (BWI) attended with one of their Indian affiliates representing workers impacted by the mismanagement of an ADB-funded road project. Those workers took their campaign directly to the Bank to challenge the failure to ensure safety for workers, address workers’ rights violations or compensate for lost wages.

Safe development must exclude asbestos!

The Asian Development Bank should exclude all asbestos materials from their investment activities by eliminating the clause that allows for the purchase of asbestos cement sheeting. Development that relies on hazardous substances and the support of a dangerous industry will undermine the progress made in poverty reduction, environmental protection and the creation of resilient communities by extending the impact of asbestos related diseases.

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA will continue to work with regional networks to build power and change the Bank’s policy to exclude all asbestos products.

Become a Global Justice Partner today and contribute to Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA’s Asbestos. Not here. Not anywhere. campaign. Yes, sign me up!

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