Scandinavians Call for ADB Care for Environment
By BRIAN COVERT
OSAKA — The funding of environmental projects should receive more attention from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), representatives from several member countries said during the final session of the bank’s annual meeting here Wednesday.
“For many, the environmental issue is one of survival,” said Kjell Halvorsen of the Norwegian Ministry of Development Cooperation.
“A much larger share of the ADB’s lending should go to projects that enhance the environment and the productivity of natural resources,” he said.
Many of the delegates stressed the need for a stronger commitment to poorer countries, the involvement of more women in development and for closer scrutiny of environmental projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
Norway’s Halvorsen said the bank’s past funding for agriculture, energy, forestry and fisheries has been based mainly on “narrow economic criteria that take insufficient account of environmental effects.”
He said the time has come for the bank to look beyond the short term and focus on more long-term projects.
Halvorsen was later backed up by the Danish representative, Sten Lilholt, who said, “It is essential that the environmental impact is given full attention in the overall activities of the bank.”
Representatives from developing countries repeated the requests made during Tuesday’s session that the bank should do more to help them in restructuring their economies.
“We believe the bank could play an important role in coordinating this effort,” said Thura U Tun Tin, Burmese Minister of Planning and Finance.
Bangladesh Finance Minister M. Syeduzzaman said his country has lost valuable opportunities for increasing food production because of limits on the bank’s program-lending activities.
Laos called on the bank to improve its relations with Vietnam, which has seen eight of its 11 ADB loans closed and two suspended.
Laotian Vice Finance Minister Kikham-Vongsay said Vietnam fulfills all its obligations as a member of the bank and its right to the same advantages as other members should be ensured.