Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been an enthusiastic supporter of hydropower, large irrigation and other infrastructure projects in Asia for decades. This trend is poised to continue, with more than US$900 million proposed for hydropower projects from 2007 to 2009, including new dams in Laos and Nepal.

The Manila-based ADB is struggling to remain relevant in a region where strong emerging economies have ready access to capital. In misguided response, the ADB is weakening its safeguard policies and re-thinking its proclaimed “poverty-reduction” focus.

Like the World Bank, the ADB’s support for large dams comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The ADB finances dams with loans and guarantees, funds related technical assistance studies and transmission lines, provides pro-dam policy advice, convenes regional meetings to tout proposed dam projects, and backs regional integration of the power sector, particularly in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

Under the GMS Power Grid plan, numerous controversial hydropower projects in Burma, Yunnan, and Laos – where independent civil society participation and open debate are stifled – will provide power to the energy-hungry cities of Thailand and Vietnam. ADB dams in Laos, such as Theun-Hinboun, Nam Leuk, and Nam Song, have negatively affected approximately 40,000 people, many of whom are still waiting for adequate compensation. And the ADB has neglected better renewable energy solutions and planning processes that would avoid this destructive path.

International Rivers and its partners work to stop ADB support for destructive dam projects, and to hold the ADB accountable for resolving problems with past projects. We aim to strengthen the ADB’s environmental and social policies and promote more sustainable energy and water alternatives.

More information: 
  • Multilateral Development Banks' Project Pipelines: A quarterly report on dam projects to watch out for at the the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the World Bank