Carlos was struggling to handle a complaint he had received as the complaint handling officer of a private national financial organization that had been funded for a project by an international financial institution. The complaint alleged that four families had been illegally thrown out of their land by company contractors and without any compensation and that they had been harassed by the contractors. While Carlos knew how to handle customer complaints about financial matters, he was at a loss on how to handle a complaint of this type. He did not know what to do or whom to ask. Thankfully, he had enrolled for a training course conducted by the GCF’s IRM on grievance redress mechanisms, and within two weeks he had a good sense of how to respond to the complaint. And what is more, Carlos is now part of a community of practitioners whom he can reach out to anytime via the internet to get advice, share experiences and ponder on practical problems he and others like him face.
Carlos had completed nine online modules and been able to interact with experts in the field as part of his training. And the icing on the cake was that Carlos received an envelope in his mail containing a certificate stating that he had successfully completed the “Online training on Grievance Redress Mechanisms.” The certificate carried the logo of the Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM) of the GCF, Consensus Building Institute, and the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program. After 10 hours of online sessions and completing an online course, Carlos was ready to handle the complaint. And yes, you guessed right, this is happening “online” in Latin America led by the GCF’s IRM.
This July, the IRM is offering online training to the staff of Grievance Redress Mechanisms (GRMs) of the Direct Access Entities (DAEs) of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) located in Latin America and the Caribbean. In September, the same training will be offered to the GRMs of the African Direct Access Entities, and in November to the GRMs of the Asian Direct Access Entities. Direct Access Entities are national and regional organization accredited by the GCF to apply for climate change project and programme funds.
The online training forms part of the activities of the IRM to fulfil its mandate of building the capacity of Grievance Redress Mechanisms of GCF’s Direct Access Entities.
This is an important function: The GCF has structured its accountability system by way of offering potentially affected people multiple fora and ways to file complaints. Complaints can be filed at the level of the project with a project level GRM (if one has been created) or at the level of the Accredited Entity, including DEAs, – through their own Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) – or/and at the level of the GCF, through the Independent Redress Mechanism. These different fora for complaint handling and redress form, what we call, the GCF’s “ecosystem of GRMs”.
Nevertheless, while this idea of an ecosystem of GRMs” might look sound on paper, the realities of the different GRMs participating in this system are very diverse. Despite it being a requirement for the accreditation of institutions by the GCF, the GRMs of accredited entities have significant differences in capacity, staffing, budget, mandates, etc. Furthermore, advocating for greater accountability within the institutions has traditionally not been an easy job. It is for all these reasons that the IRM takes its mandate from the GCF Board to build the capacity of the GRMs very seriously.
A concept closely connected to the function of building the capacity of the ecosystem of GRMs is that of a “community of practice”. The IRM wants to be the catalyzer of a community – the Grievance Redress and Accountability Partnership (GRAM Partnership) - where peers of all levels share information on challenges and opportunities and also enjoy a feeling of belonging and a sense of purpose. It is for this reason that in all of the three regional trainings, in addition to having David Fairman – the lead facilitator – from the Consensus Building Institute, a regional co-facilitator is in charge of making participants get to know each other, proactively shares information and also simply, makes this experience enjoyable for everyone.
As it happened in its first edition, the goal of the training is to equip participants with the core principles for establishing and operating a GRM. Strategies on how to handle complaints will also be discussed and case studies will serve to prepare participants for complex situations.
In addition to these topics, Christine Reddell from the IRM, will present the Case Management System (CMS) of the IRM. The CMS is an online tool that allows a grievance redress mechanism to file and keep track of its cases and, to analyze data and see if it shows patterns from which lessons can be learned. For example, is there a recurrent type of complaint? What is (and what is not) the profile of the complainants? How well are women represented in the bundle of complaints? etc. It is, therefore, an essential tool for the continuous learning of a financial institution through the work of its grievance redress mechanism.
An important feature of the CMS of the IRM is that it can be used, if they so choose, by other GRMs of accredited entities as their own tool for filing and tracking cases. Having all data managed in the same way and stored in the same place will not only allow to save costs to the GRMs but most importantly, it will allow to draw lessons from cases filed and managed in the whole ecosystem of the GRM. The idea behind the collective system of filling and tracking cases is that every complaint contains a valuable lesson for the institution.
The IRM staff enjoy meeting our colleagues from Latin America and the Caribbean. We are also excited to meet our African and Asian colleagues in the near future. Once the three regional workshops are complete, we will be reporting back! So stay tuned in….