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African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) joined various representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) for a day-long end of year

annual meeting with the Senior Management and staff of the New Development Bank (NDB) for the Second NDB-CSO Interactive Dialogue.The meeting was held at the NDB headquarters in Shanghai, China and included follow up discussions on issues raised in 2017 on; subsequent communications; human resources; environment and social aspects of NDB’s operations; sustainable infrastructure; strategy and partnerships; and sustainable development financing. Other cross-cutting discussed topics included compliance; gender; information disclosure; country systems, and mechanisms to strengthen civil society engagement with the Bank.

The NDB Management, including Vice-President and Chief Administrative Officer Vladimir Kazbekov and Vice- President and Chief Risk Officer Sarquis Jose Buainain Sarquis, updated civil society on the expansion of the NDB’s portfolio and partnerships over the past year. They also shared progress made on issues of sustainability, transparency, accountability, and gender_ some of which were based on key questions presented by CSOs at the First NDB-CSO Interactive Dialogue.

The NDB acknowledged capacity constraints in responding to information disclosure and other requests from civil society. They committed to enhancing the capacity of the communication team and improving response to information requests.

Mr.Adrian Chikowore, AFRODAD, International Public Finance policy consultant who was part of the CSO’s delegation pointed out that the issue of information disclosure by the bank was topical: “Our major concern as Civil Society representatives engaging BRICS remains the lack of access to information about the bank’s projects and operations. We hope that the new information disclosure policy leaves room for the easy accessibly of information regarding their projects and other necessary information.”

Taking into account what CSOs learned from the Bank in the one-day meeting, as well as the ongoing efforts of CSOs to engage with the Bank, CSOs raised crucial points for the NDB to become a truly sustainable and inclusive institution:

Transparency: CSOs called the bank to be transparent with regard to the accessibility of NDBs project documents at all project stages and to publish all information.

Gender: CSOs urged the bank to develop a comprehensive, mandatory Gender Policy to guide all NDB’s structure, governance, and operations. Given that the Bank already has 29 projects on its portfolio, the priority should shift to operations.

Environmental and social management: CSOs noted that it was crucial for the NBD to create a CSO‐NDB working group to further develop Sustainable Infrastructure criteria and assess NDB contributions to the SDGs. CSOs highlighted that the working group should be as representative of Bank’s stakeholders as possible, including NGO-CSOs, academics, women’s groups, trade unions, social movements, affected communities among others.

Sustainable Development Financing: The civil society organizations proposed that the NDB consider establishing a special fund to directly finance commitment to decentralised small scale pro-community, pro-poor infrastructure projects as a way of operationalizing and earmarking resources for inclusive broad based economic development.

There is hope to see the institution moving towards creating transformative change in BRICS countries and in the global South at large. CSOs remain committed to supporting the Bank in this process.