2017 marks the 50th year of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Shalmali Guttal, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South, explains why civil society organisations and movements have been organising against destructive ADB projects for the past 20 years. This video was filmed part of a series for the Working Group on IFIs called, ADB: Voices from the Ground.


I am Shalmali Guttal and I am with Focus on the Global South.

We have been fighting the ADB for 20 years now.

We have been monitoring and watching closely and organizing against the ADB’s policies and projects. We continue to do this because the model of development that the ADB promotes, supports, and finances is an extractivist, exploitative, and destructive development model.

This is a kind of development that exploits nature, it exploits workers, it exploits the knowledge and potential of people both in rural and urban areas.

It does not support peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, it does not support workers, it does not support women from urban and rural poor areas, it does not support children, or nutrition, or public health, or the right to food.

In fact, the kind of development that the Asian Development Bank, the ADB supports is one that serves the interests of corporations and large private businesses so that they can extract maximum whatever value they want from both nature and society.

We have yet to see even one project of the ADB that has resulted in actual benefits for local people, that has actually resulted in the environment getting better.

In addition to all this is the problem that ADB is completely unaccountable.

It has a charter which is endorsed and supported and written by our governments, or the member governments, and the charter offers ADB full immunity.

So that means the ADB can plan, design, finance, support any type of project with any kind of impact and it will never be accountable for this – it will never have to pay for material harm, it cannot be taken to court, it cannot be legally sued.

Local communities are sued, our governments can be sued but the ADB is protected from all of this, it has immunity.

It is because of its charter.

So, it is in a way a master criminal.

It designs a crime, it conceptualizes the crime, it finances the crime, it makes somebody else carry out the crime but in the end it will never be arrested or make to pay for its crime.

So for all these reasons, we must keep fighting the ADB and make sure that the ADB is shut down.

There can be no reformed ADB.