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Accountability in Action – the IRM’s 2019 year in review

Songdo,
Putting together an annual report gives you a rare opportunity to reflect on your achievements, and the sheer amount of work that can be done in a year. The IRM has a strong team of committed individuals, so strong that even though COVID-19 has split us apart physically, we stay connected virtually with the help of various online communication tools. We remain open for business – constantly adjusting and innovating to meet the challenges of having our events and meetings postponed! 

2019 was a big year for us, which started off with the Board’s adoption of our Procedures and Guidelines in February. These procedures have since been cited by both civil society organisations and other independent accountability mechanisms of international financial institutions as representing good international practice against several key indicators. They have also been referenced by the Asian Development Bank in providing technical assistance to the Chinese government, and they are serving as a blueprint for the grievance mechanisms of Chinese financial intermediaries and banks investing abroad. On the institutional front, the IRM also drafted and consulted on its Supporting Operating Procedures, and completed the development of its tailormade Case Management System which will allow us to systematically process and track complaints and reconsideration requests, as well as pre-cases that we are looking into, in a timely manner. 

The IRM also handled its first self-initiated inquiry in 2019, exercising a relatively unique function afforded to us in our Terms of Reference.  The ability to self-initiate inquiries is yet another tool in our toolbox that serves to overcome barriers to access. If potential complainants can’t access us, we can still intervene when legitimate concerns are raised about a GCF project. Our self-initiated inquiry into the GCF’s very first approved project (in Peru) elicited a positive and constructive response from the GCF Secretariat, and we continue to monitor the outcome of this inquiry in 2020. 

Peru
2019 was also a big year for our capacity building mandate. One of the key new functions entrusted to the IRM by the Board in September 2017 is that of capacity building for grievance redress mechanisms (GRMs) of Direct Access Entities (DAEs). All DAEs are expected to have a GRM, and we are working to ensure that these GRMs exist in reality, not just on paper, and that they are fully functioning and ready to handle complaints. Because we know that we won’t be able to conduct in-person training for all GRMs of DAEs, we developed detailed online learning modules in 2019 that we plan to make available soon. We also kicked off our training programme with our first in-person workshop in October 2019 for 14 sponsored representatives of GRMs from DAEs, 5 self-sponsored DAE and AE representatives, and a number of GCF colleagues. We plan to build on these efforts with a larger conference for grievance redress and accountability mechanisms (GRAMs) in 2020, along with other plans to build a community of practice (as soon as COVID-19 is under control and it’s safe to hold public gatherings again). The GRAM conference is a collaborative effort with 4 other organisations which have come together with us under the banner of the GRAM Partnership – an initiative which we spearheaded in 2019 as a means to provide leadership to a growing community of second-generation accountability and grievance redress practitioners. 

Workshop
We also hosted and co-hosted a number of inreach (internal to the GCF) and outreach events (for external stakeholders) in 2019, launched our triennial newsletter “Redress Counts”, produced two short videos to raise awareness about our work, and revised our communications strategy with feedback from various stakeholders that we approached through a survey. 

For more about our work in 2019, and to get a sense of our planned activities in 2020, take a look at our 2019 Annual Report! You can also view the virtual presentation of our 2019 Annual Report to the GCF Board at B25. We hope to connect with as many stakeholders as possible in 2020, both virtually and in-person (when the timing is right)!