BWI welcomes ADB’s ban on asbestos

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is reportedly on its way in banning all asbestos-containing products  in projects it finance. This was according to the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS)

quoting ADB Safeguards Division Director Bruce Dunn in a letter he sent to the organisation on 9 November 2020. 

In his letter, Dunn said that the ADB is aware of the severe health effects that an exposure to ACMs [asbestos-containing materials] can have on people exposed to this material. He said that the ADB is taking several actions intended to limit the risks of asbestos exposure in our projects, such as preparing an internal memorandum that recommends for future ADB projects to refrain from supporting the procurement of any products containing asbestos.

IBAS said that the ADB had first announced its intention to prohibit the use of asbestos in its projects in 2019. “The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has since 2009 explicitly prohibited ADB financing for the production of, trade in, or use of unbonded asbestos fibers. However, the purchase and use of bonded asbestos cement sheeting where asbestos content was less than 20% has been permitted. This was consistent with prevailing industry standards and safety guidance. Given increased concerns regarding the potential risks of these products, ADB is now taking steps to address this. From 2020, ADB will refrain from financing any new projects containing any presence of asbestos; this update will be reflected in the next review of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement,” reportedly said by an ADB representative.  

BWI, which is working closely with Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, NGO Forum on ADB and the Asia Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN), welcomed this latest development. The global union said that it is also directly involved in the ongoing review process of the Safeguard Policy Statement to ensure that there will be a categorical provision on the prohibition on the use of asbestos in ADB-funded projects and full adherence to International Labour Organisation (ILO) Core Conventions.