Experts discussed complaint mechanisms
Over 950 climate action and biodiversity conservation projects, activities in more than 150 developing and emerging countries, a financial volume of almost 6 billion EUR - that is the current record of “15 years of IKI”. But what could be done when funding for climate, biodiversity and development - despite all the care taken - also contributes to harming people and nature?
Several years ago, the development cooperation of the German federal government was criticised for supporting nature conservation projects in Central Africa. It appeared that the authorities funded by Germany had employed parking attendants who mistreated the local population. Although this was not a project funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI), it became clear that the IKI could potentially also be affected by such incidents - and reacted by establishing an Independent Complaint Mechanism for the IKI.
Complaint procedures are often the only possibility for the individuals affected to point out problems in projects in such cases. The first mechanism was the Inspection Panel of the World Bank, which was founded in 1993. However, the effectiveness of accountability mechanisms depends to a great extent on the institutional and political environment. What are the conditions for the success of accountability mechanisms? What can Germany learn from international experience? And how can it contribute to their further development a an actor in international organisations?
Experts discussed these topics on the premises of the IKI project management agency Zukunft - Umwelt - Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH in Berlin from 20th to 21st June 2023.
The theme evening was kicked off by “30 years of accountablity mechanisms - What can development and climate finance learn?”, on an invitation of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). At this event, several international experts answered questions from the specialist audience from the federal government, civil society and business. It was attended by representatives of the World Bank, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and NGOs and/or think tanks such as urgewald and Accountability Counsel. Also present were the members of the Independent Expert Panel of the Independent Complaints Mechanism of the IKI (IKI ICM) Lalanath da Silva, Philipp Koenig and Sârra-Tilila Bounfour.
In her introduction to the evening, Birgit Schwenk, Head of Climate Action at the BMWK, said: “International accountability mechanisms lend a voice to those who should benefit most from our cooperation - the people in the countries in which we provide funds for cooperation. Complaint procedures can investigate deficiencies in project planning and make proposals for future improvement. If there are protests from the population against certain projects, they can find a mutual solution in dispute settlement procedures.”
ZUG Managing Director Corinna Enders stressed that the international complaint mechanisms, with their focus on those affected, were pioneers of a development that would now also become obligatory for companies with legal provisions at EU level.
The design of the complaint mechanism as well as the environmental and social standards of the IKI were complimented by the international guests. However, they also underlined that the complaints of those affected must be remedied in the end, both actually and practically - the admission of fault alone is not sufficient.
Janine Ferretti, Director-General for the Office of Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), and Ramanie Kunanayagam, Head of the Inspection Panel of the World Bank, also stated that institutions would eventually benefit from complaint mechanisms: They can act as an early warning system and also encourage organisational learning in the participating institutions. However, this also requires a responsible error culture.
Expert conference with more than 40 participants
The next day continued with the one-day workshop, which was jointly organised by the Independent Complaint Mechanism of the IKI (IKI ICM) and the NGO “urgewald”. In three sessions, more than 40 experts discussed various topics, including the independence of complaint mechanisms, ensuring accountability and guaranteeing the safety of complainants.
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Zukunft – Umwelt – Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH
Office of the IKI Independent Complaint Mechanism (IKI ICM)