Fire! Fire! But Who’s There to Put it Out?

  • Article type News
  • Publication date 20 Dec 2021

What do you do when you detect a fire? You call the fire department. You call them because you know they will come and extinguish the fire and save lives. You call them because you know which number to dial. But what if you didn’t know there was a fire department in your neighbourhood? Or what if you didn’t know which number to dial?

At one of the GCF’s previous Board meetings, one Board member referred to the IRM as “the fire department of the GCF.” The analogy surpringly fits. Both the fire department and an accountability mechanism play similar roles in addressing emergencies and harm. Just as firefighters should be quickly dispatched to put out the fire, the IRM’s major function is to quickly respond to the complaints related to the GCF’s projects and programmes. However, if the complainants are not aware of the existence of the IRM or the way to contact the IRM, then the IRM would be of little use.

It is in this context that the IRM has come up with ambitious plans for enhanced communications with its stakeholders next year. With the GCF rapidly building up its project portfolio, it is important that project-affected people are aware of the IRM so that they know to contact the IRM before a problem or harm escalates. Thus, after numerous team discussions, the IRM decided to invest more resources into its communications efforts. The IRM engaged with the Budget Committee, with individual Ethics and Audit Committee members, and finally with the Board. With the GCF Board’s recognition that the IRM needs more resources, in particular to fulfil its communications functions, the IRM’s proposal for the 2022 budget was approved.

As part of its efforts to strengthen communications, the IRM will take two major actions: hiring a Communications Associate and collaborating with local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to reach project affected people. First, the Communications Associate will devise and implement strategies to reach those in need. Through our previous blogs, we’ve emphasised the potential accessibility barriers that project-affected people may face. Those barriers include the lack of access to internet, gender discrimination, disability, illiteracy, and many more. It is thus timely to have the IRM’s activities guided by a communications expert and to make sure that our functions are effectively communicated to those in need.

Another major update to the IRM’s enhanced communications and outreach is collaborating with ground-level CSOs to carry out its four outreach activities in 2022. While during Covid-19, the IRM has collaborated with several CSOs to conduct outreach events, the IRM believes that this collaboration can be further developed to deliver the IRM’s messages in a more meaningful way. Additionally, the IRM will be inviting its mediators to support the IRM’s outreach activities.

The IRM also provides training to the grievance redress mechanisms of the GCF’s direct access entities, so that they have the capacity to extinguish smaller fires that may break out in their vicinity. Now that many of the committed Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) staff of the GCF’s Direct Access Entities (DAEs) have completed the IRM’s basic course on operating GRMs, the IRM will be providing one global capacity building workshop in 2022. The online course, which is the basis for these trainings, will be upgraded with new and additional materials.  In addition, like in 2021, the IRM will conduct a company-community mediation training to equip GRM staff with advanced problem solving skills. Furthermore, the IRM will continue to provide logistical support to the Grievance Redress and Accountability Mechanisms (GRAM) Community of Practice to facilitate the sharing of good practices. Finally, the IRM’s mediators will join the IRM’s capacity building efforts to share their experiences in handling complex cases.

In light of the continued impacts of Covid-19, the IRM, together with the Secretariat and other Independent Units of the GCF, has drastically reduced its travel budget. This means that the IRM will continue to deliver its activities through an online platform unless travel is deemed absolutely necessary. Connecting online can provide a challenge in building trust and eliciting active stakeholder participation and interaction. Nevertheless, the IRM remains optimistic that much can be done online with the expertise of the Communications Associate while also reducing the carbon footprint of our work. This reduction in the travel budget, however, is based on the assumption that travel will gradually become available later in the year, and the Board has left the door open for the IRM to return and ask for more travel funds if necessary.

Last but not least, as the IRM grows bigger, the IRM, in consultation with the GCF Secretariat and the other Independent Units, has agreed to contribute a proportional amount to cover the costs of hiring a human resources staff and a procurement staff. We expect that this will result in a swifter response to the IRM’s HR and Procurement needs, which are key to efficiently implementing the IRM’s activities.

Detailed information about the IRM’s Workplan for 2022 can be found in the IRM’s Work Plan and Budget for 2022. The IRM is currently preparing its Annual Report for 2021, which will be published on the IRM website early next year to share our highlights and learnings from this year. We thank our stakeholders for all the support you provided us with this year, and we look forward to our continued collaboration in 2022!