By Andrew Green & Jenny Lei Ravelo
Berlin, Germany, May 22, 2017
Just over a year since the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launched, civil society groups across Europe and Asia say their initial wariness toward the bank has deepened. CSOs are concerned about both the way the China-backed bank has rolled out key initial policies and what is actually included in those documents.
Advocacy groups are now shaping their responses, hoping to lobby and influence AIIB strategies and projects. CSO officials who met last week in Berlin told Devex they are eager to engage with the institution. That includes members of The NGO Forum on ADB, a coalition of more than 100 CSOs across Asia that provides oversight of the Asian Development Bank and will now also focus on the AIIB, according to Luz Julieta Rio Ligthart, the forum’s AIIB coordinator.
Among advocates’ strategies will be to undertake monitoring that bank officials say they do not have the capacity to do, to engage national representatives to the bank in their home countries, and to lobby other members governments — for example, in Europe — to push for stronger standards.
NGO leaders involved told Devex they see now as a key moment to build a constructive relationship with the AIIB. The $100 billion bank has yet to announce many of its own substantial financing projects, choosing instead to partner with other multilateral development banks. The bank is also still staffing up and building its internal systems — exactly the time when CSOs hope their voices can be heard.
“A year is not very much,” said Dr. Korinna Horta of Urgewald, a Germany-based advocacy group that monitors the work of MDBs as part of its portfolio. “The rubber will hit the road when the AIIB, itself, will have to implement its own frameworks.”