How effective are the complaints mechanisms of development banks?
Development banks such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the German DEG and the Dutch FMO have some crucial similarities: they operate with public money, and their ultimate goal is to fight poverty and promote development. But in practice, 'development' seems to be a broad concept, as there are many people that do not profit from the projects these banks invest in. On the contrary, large groups of people are often faced with negative consequences of the investments of development banks. Under pressure from civil society organisations, including Both ENDS, a number of development banks set up a complaint desk for those that are adversely affected.
In the report ‘Glass half full? The State of Accountability in Development Finance’ eleven organisations assess how effective these complaints procedures actually are.
The World Bank as a forerunner
In the 1990s, at the instigation of Both ENDS and a number of other NGOs, the World Bank created the first official complaints mechanism in the financial sector. The projects of the World Bank, intended to 'do good', often turned out to have an adverse effect. "Major infrastructure projects such as dams, roads, canals, ports and mines, which were actually intended to advance countries' economies, caused so much damage and environmental pollution that the living conditions of large groups of people became much worse instead of better," says Pieter Jansen, policy officer at Both ENDS. "In many cases people were even unceremoniously evicted from their homes or chased of their land, without any compensation."
Recognition and compensation
Under pressure from civil society organisations, the World Bank eventually set up a number of social and environmental criteria that its own investments had to meet. To ensure that the Bank could be held responsible for possible damages, a complaints mechanism was set up as well. After this initiative, an increasing number of development banks followed the World Bank's example, and more and more local communities now find their way to these complaint desks, often with the help of civil society organisations. They seek recognition for the damages they suffer as a result of investments of these banks, and they hope to be compensated fairly.
Which parts are functioning well and which parts could be improved?
"This report analyses the way the complaints mechanisms of eleven development banks function. We see that whilst some things function well, many points need to be improved," says Jansen. "Procedures are too complicated and opaque and they take too long, and 'in practice' we still see barely any results."The findings may initially serve as input for the Dutch development bank FMO and the German DEG, which are currently both evaluating their own complaints mechanisms. Both ENDS and the other organisations will continue to work together with these and other development banks to optimise social and environmental criteria and the effectiveness of corresponding complaints procedures.
The press release about the report
The website 'Human Rights and Grievance Mechanisms'
Read more about this subject
News / 24 December 2019
We have already defined our own Green New Years resolutions!
Publication / 23 December 2019
News / 16 December 2019
Earlier this month, the seven men found guilty of the murder of Berta Cáceres were sentenced to jail for periods between 30 and 50 years. The court confirmed its opinion that Berta Cáceres was murdered for her role in defending the rights of the indigenous Lenca communities.
News / 9 December 2019
At the end of November, the organisations WALHI South Sulawesi (part of Friends of the Earth) and Both ENDS filed a formal complaint with the Dutch export credit agency Atradius DSB. Despite the warnings from local communities for the negative consequences of a land reclamation project in the bay of Makassar, Atradius DSB advised the Dutch government to provide dredging company Boskalis with insurance for the execution of the project. The consequences for the fish stock, the beach and the lives of thousands of small-scale fishermen and their families are severe. Atradius DSB has not sufficiently investigated these harmful consequences beforehand.
Event / 4 December 2019, 15:00 - 16:30
On Wednesday December 4th 2019 Both ENDS together with Heinrich Böll Stiftung from he US organises a side event at the UNFCCC COP in Madrid: Can the GCF Catalyze Inclusive, Gender-Responsive Local Climate Action Globally and in Latin America?
News / 26 November 2019
No fewer than 55 NGO's, foundations and associations, many of whom do not normally deal primarily with climate change, express their concern about the dangers of climate change for everyone and everything in the statement 'The climate belongs to everyone'.
They call for urgent action and support the international Climate Strike taking place this Friday, November 29. In cities all over the world, young and old will take to the streets again. In the Netherlands too, climate strikes will be organised in many cities.
News / 18 November 2019
Good news for the climate: last week, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to stop investing in fossil fuels by 2021. This is part of its new energy strategy.
Press release / 18 November 2019
The Netherlands provides export credit insurances and guarantees worth 1.5 billion euros annually to Dutch companies active in the oil and gas sector abroad. This support amounts to one and a half times the annual amount that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Rutte mobilises for climate initiatives worldwide. The intended effects of Dutch international climate policy are more than offset by this fossil export support. That is the conclusion of a new report from Both ENDS which is published today.
Publication / 17 November 2019
Publication / 8 November 2019
Publication / 8 November 2019
Video / 8 November 2019
The Athi River Community Network is made up of communities who live along the Athi River watershed. Members of the Athi River Community Network promised to join forces with the Friends of Ondiri Wetland to ensure that this critical wetland is restored and conserved for the sake of current and future generations.
News / 8 November 2019
On Thursday November 7th, a group of European NGO's including Both ENDS, sent a letter to Vice-President of the EU Frans Timmermans, in which they ask him to support the phase out of European Investment Bank’s fossil fuel financing by the end of 2020.
News / 5 November 2019
After a complaint filed by women's groups from Ixquisis, Guatemala, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) has started an investigation on several policy violations, amongst which the Gender Equality policy. This is a unique chance to create a precedent, because complaints on the IDB's gender policy are very rare. The women from Ixquisis are fighting for their rights with support of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA).
News / 31 October 2019
Earlier this month, we learned that Golfrid Siregar, an Indonesian environmental lawyer working for our partner organisation WALHI died under suspicious circumstances. We call for a thorough and transparent investigation and have brought the case to the attention of the Indonesian embassy in The Hague and to the Netherlands' embassy in Jakarta.
News / 29 October 2019
The second United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held from 2 to 14 September in New Delhi, India. Our colleague Nathalie has been working together with many civil society organisations for several years to show the UNCCD that large numbers of local communities around the world are working on sustainable land use and on combating desertification and land degradation, and that land-use security is essential.
Press release / 24 October 2019
Press release 24 October 2019
Starting today, investors can use five criteria to test whether companies in the fossil sector are actively working on phasing out their fossil activities. Too many investors still seem hesitant to switch to a profitable future of sustainable energy and these criteria should help them do this. The organisations DivestInvest Network, Sustainable Energy (Denmark) and Both ENDS (the Netherlands) publish the report "Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Businesses" today, which describes these five criteria. The criteria aim to help investors choose investments that are in line with the Paris goal "stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius warming." The recommendations are presented at the World Pension Summit deliberately, because pension fund investors in particular can take more responsibility in this.
Publication / 24 October 2019
News / 11 October 2019
In Indonesia, US-based mining companies succeeded to roll back new laws that were meant to boost the country’s economic development and protect its forests. This is the level of impact that investment treaties can have on social, environmental and economic development and rights. Why? Because of the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) clauses that are included in many such treaties.
News / 11 October 2019
Indigenous communities in Paraguay saw their attempts to regain their ancestral lands thwarted by German investors. This is the level of impact that investment treaties can have on social, environmental and economic development and rights. Why? Because of the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) clauses that are included in many such treaties.