Request for endorsement: Statement on the IFI Policy Review


Recommendations for the revision of World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank safeguard policies on Indigenous Peoples

Twenty-five (25) participants from 21 indigenous organizations in 8 countries in Asia and supported by three (3) civil society organizations gathered for the REGIONAL TRAINING ON SAFEGUARD POLICIES AND GRIEVANCE MECHANISMS OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS in Sagada, Philippines.

We have studied and discussed the safeguard policies and grievance mechanisms of international finance institutions and have reflected on the experiences of our communities and peoples with projects funded by these institutions.

We recognise that the policies of the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are now, or soon to, undergo review and we wish to provide our perspectives into the review process.

We note at the outset that the primary purpose of the safeguard policies is to ‘do no harm’ yet our experiences show that the current safeguards is insufficient to stop human rights violations, including the destruction of our lands, our livelihoods and damage to our cultures and identities.

We also re-iterate that national laws respecting the rights of indigenous peoples especially to land tenure shall be respected and safeguards by IFIs should further strengthen and not weaken the implementation of these laws and measures on indigenous peoples’ rights.

We identify, based on the experiences of our communities, our organisations and our peoples, the following problems with the current safeguard frameworks, policies and procedures of the main international finance institutions:

Policy level concerns

  1. The safeguard policies are not in line with international human rights instruments which governments have to respect and protect, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
  2. Customary land rights are not sufficiently recognized or protected by the current language of the safeguards and therefore risk being damaged or lost
  3. Traditional or customary governance systems and management systems are not sufficiently protected and respected by the current language of the safeguards and therefore risk being undermined 
  4. The World Bank (WB) and ADB prioritize economic growth and market driven development over equitable, self determined and sustainable development for the people resulting to increasing gaps between the rich and the poor and resulting to human rights violations including the collective rights of indigenous peoples over their lands, territories and resources among others.
  5. There are no appropriate or effective sanctions provided by the safeguards to be applied in cases of non-compliance and as a result we see violations in our communities left unresolved
  6. We reject the WB’s requirement for ‘free, prior and informed consultation’, instituted in place of free, prior and informed consent. Experience since the adoption of this requirement in 2004 shows that it has failed to secure our full and effective involvement or support for projects impacting on us. The World Bank’s own internal Learning Review highlighted extremely low levels of evidence provided for broad community support and low levels of effective consultation.
  7. The policy as currently formulated does not require our participation in decision making at an appropriate level, including by failing to require our involvement in the conduct and validation of social impact assessments and failing to require clear indicators and monitoring plans in the implementation of indigenous peoples’ plans and other agreed planning and implementation frameworks. 

Implementation level concerns

  1. The information and protections contained in the safeguards are inaccessible to communities for the following reasons
    1. The language is complex and difficult to interpret
    2. It is often not known in communities affected by a project funded by a particular institution that safeguards exist. 
  2. There is lack of adequate and accurate information provided to communities regarding the safeguard protections, including through lack of appropriate and transparent forms of wide consultations with community members and not only with selected leaders; limited time periods provided for consultations and information sharing; and lack of effort put into awareness raising among affected indigenous peoples on the project and related guidelines
  3. The limited available sanctions, including stopping funding, withdrawal of future funding, or blacklisting implementation agencies for future high risk funding, are rarely exercised
  4. Monitoring of the implementation of the policy at the World Bank and at the borrower level is poorly done. Among others, the conduct of consultations, information provided to communities, process and implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Plans with key indicators are not properly undertaken.
  5. There is little or no transparency and information on the different roles of stakeholders and key actors such as government agencies, project proponents, consultants and others.
  6. Some governments continue to fail to comply with the safeguards or implement their requirements, sometimes due to a lack of political will and sometimes due to a lack of knowledge and coordination between government agencies and with WB officials.

Based on these problems and the experiences that we have the following recommendations for the international finance institutions in the review and reformulation of their policies:

Policy level changes needed

  1. Indigenous peoples’ own concept of self-determined development shall be explicitly recognized and supported in the safeguard policies
  2. Safeguards shall incorporate a human-rights based approach at all levels, including appropriately assessing risks to our individual and collective rights
  3. Customary and collective land rights shall be respected explicitly and projects dependent on formalizing recognition of such rights
  4. The indigenous peoples’ policy be retained as a stand alone policy in the World Bank
  5. The safeguards shall be guided by, and provide reference to, international human rights law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to strengthen the protections for indigenous peoples
  6. Additional provisions are required to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ plans are formulated by the community members in ways consistent with their independent decision making process; and key indicators for its appropriate and timely implementation are identified for strict monitoring with the effective participation of community members.
  7. Appropriate enforcement mechanisms and sanctions to be used in cases of non-compliance shall be designed to strengthen implementation of the safeguards

Implementation level changes needed

  1. Transparency shall be ensured, in part by requiring awareness raising on the safeguards for affected communities and providing the safeguards in local languages
  2. The language of the safeguards shall be simplified for community level understanding
  3. The safeguards shall ensure the full, effective and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in the planning and implementation of projects. In particular, the full and effective participation of affected indigenous peoples, including but not solely through their representative authorities, shall be ensured in the following among others:
  • In the conduct of social and environmental impact assessments;
  • In the validation of the results of impact assessments;
  • In the formulation and in any adaptation of the indigenous peoples’ plan (or similar document) including appropriate results indicators;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the projects
  1. The safeguards shall respect indigenous system of decision making and customary laws on resource management and shall not be driven solely by local governments or other agencies
  2. Appropriate enforcement mechanisms and sanctions should be strictly enforced to strengthen implementation of the safeguards. Projects linked with serious human rights violations such as the criminalization of community actions against development projects or violations to the collective rights of indigenous such as the lack of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) should be immediately suspended for investigation and appropriate sanctions applied.
  3. Projects unnecessarily utilizing State military forces and paramilitaries to protect or implement projects should be carefully monitored and reviewed as this can and does create a sense of insecurity and intimidation, preventing the full and effective participation of communities as well as constraining them from raising their concerns freely. A case in point is the implementation of some KALAHI CIDSS projects funded by the WB in Tineg, Abra and in Kalinga Province in the Philippines. There is a high probability that similar intimidation will attend projects implemented in Myanmar. Investments there are now pouring into the territories of ethnic nationalities in a historical context in which the military is implicated directly in land grabbing and in activities opposed by ethnic minorities, including mining and dams.

World Bank

We take note of the series of consultations conducted with indigenous peoples. We hereby reiterate earlier recommendations made by indigenous peoples including in submission and letters sent to the World Bank. We strongly recommend that further consultations with indigenous peoples include feedback and actions in response to these earlier recommendations. We refer, in part, to the following:

The Indigenous Peoples Policy shall be maintained as a standalone policy with the incorporation of the following elements: 

1. The right to Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and ILO Convention 169, along with the recognition and respect of the rights of indigenous peoples. 

2. The recognition of pastoralism as a livelihood and a lifestyle and the inclusion of pastoralist people as indigenous peoples in World Bank policies, in particular in the Indigenous Peoples Policy. 

3. The recognition and respect of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation. In particular, no project shall take place in their territories. 

4. The effective and immediate solution of the gaps and shortcomings of the implementation of OP4.10 based on the World Bank Learning Review (2011).

Asian Development Bank

Specific to the Asia Development Bank we provide the following recommendations:

1. Share the any reports and reviews on the implementation of the Safeguard Policy Statement in projects affecting indigenous peoples

2. Conduct an independent evaluation on the implementation of the Safeguard Policy Requirements for Indigenous Peoples

3. Ensure the participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives in the selection of members of the independent evaluation team and in defining their Terms of Reference.

Affirmed this 20th day of April 2014 in Sagada, Philippines.