Billions of dollars are being poured into the much needed global response to the COVID-19 pandemic response. We need to make sure that none of the health funding or economic relief from international organisations ends up funding asbestos products.
Using asbestos in COVID-19 relief will leave behind a dangerous legacy
Billions of dollars around the world are going to health funding and economic stimulus in response to the Covid 19 crisis. Some are calling for a loosening of ‘red tape’, but workers and communities across the world shouldn’t have to face lower standards of human rights, environmental protection or occupational health and safety as we deal with the crisis. In countries that still use asbestos, the hospitals and health clinics that are being built, or the public and private construction that is being planned, might contain asbestos. Putting that hazardous material in buildings across Asia will place tragedy on tragedy and leave a cancerous legacy for decades.
Unless we act to win progressive and safe health and economic stimulus spending then corporations and industry lobbies will take advantage of this moment to advance their own interests.
Success! Shifting the Asian Development Bank’s policy to end asbestos use
Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA has been working for over 18 months on changing International Financial Institution (IFI) policy on asbestos use in funded development projects. Thanks to your support and the work of a global coalition we’ve seen success in shifting the policy of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to end asbestos use in their projects. The ADB funds approximately $10 Billion USD in loans, grants and technical assistance for member countries in Asia each year, and have pledged $20 Billion for targeted COVID-19 response funding. Thanks to campaigning by global networks, that funding will be safeguarded from the asbestos industry, however, there is not the same commitments from other International Financial Institutions (IFIs). We need IFIs and national governments to join in the commitment to make sure that no development funding, economic stimulus, or public health infrastructure directs funds to the asbestos industry.
The World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank allow the use of asbestos products
The scale of funding is huge. For example the World Bank and IMF have deployed almost all their lending capacity for the next 15 months to manage the immediate response and to support economic recovery. For the World Bank this includes $50 Billion in grants and additional ‘concessional’ credit to the world’s poorest countries. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has pledged $10 Billion in their responses. Both the World Bank and the AIIB allow the use of some asbestos products or don’t have a strict policy to ban its use.
We demand no asbestos in COVID-19 relief!
We are campaigning for a change in policy to ban the use of all asbestos products and a commitment to transparent processes for implementation to give assurances of safety to workers and communities.
To match the unprecedented response to COVID-19, we can take a bold step by committing that no recovery or health stimulus funds will be used to purchase asbestos building products.
The campaign to ban asbestos in South East Asia is supported by the Australian Government through Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA), and the Australian union movement.
Support the campaign to ban asbestos in South East Asia!
In Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia, our partner organisations are working to secure safe workplaces and communities by banning asbestos. You can support their fight by subscribing to receive regular campaign updates!