Keith works for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in Belize, Hailo at the CRDB Bank in Tanzania and Tantra is based at PT SMI in Indonesia. What do they and 60 other accountability practitioners have in common? All of them are part of a Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) in one of the 59 Direct Access Entities of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). They are responsible for handling complaints by people and communities negatively affected by projects of their parent institution funded by the GCF. Furthermore, they all have attended this year’s online training on GRMs conducted by the Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM) of the GCF. Keith, Hailo, and Tantra were three out of many others who learned more about operating, establishing, and improving a GRM. At the end of the training, they also received a prestigious certificate signed by the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program. What aspects did this online course include? Why was it conducted by the IRM, and how does the IRM ensure continuous learning beyond the course period?
Capacity Building Mandate
Under its terms of reference, the IRM is mandated to build the capacity of GRMs of the GCF’s Direct Access Entities. Since those institutions all operate under different contexts and have various levels of expertise and experience, building the capacity of their staff is both a challenge and an opportunity. Initially, the IRM had planned a large conference in the beginning of 2020 including trainings for those GRMs. Due to the ongoing pandemic and the related travel restrictions, the IRM decided to adjust its initial plans and offer trainings in a new – fully virtual – format. The new approach consisted of self-learning elements, guided instruction through the IRM’s online learning modules and live sessions with industry leaders. Since the GCF’s Direct Access Entities are based in many different regions around the globe, the IRM offered its training course to three different cohorts – Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa as well as Asia and the Pacific.
Latin America/Caribbean – Africa – Asia/Pacific
In total over 60 participants from 40 countries attended the course, lasting four weeks for each region. Every week, the GRM representatives needed to complete at least two modules of the online training and attend up to two live sessions. The workshops followed a participatory approach including breakout groups, discussions, polls and other interactive elements. Furthermore, interpretation services for the languages French and Spanish were provided to enhance the level of engagement among the participants. All groups were characterized by great diversity - the participants had various backgrounds, worked in different areas and had varying experiences about accountability and grievance redress. However, they all had one goal in common – learning from each other and improving their GRM on different levels.
A… Accountability to Z…Zero Tolerance
The workshops and the IRM online modules covered a variety of topics in order to give the participants, no matter how experienced they were, a full picture of accountability. Subjects such as the history and key principles of GRMs, the main steps when establishing and running a GRM, as well as resolving complex cases, problem-solving and compliance review processes were discussed throughout the course. Additionally, useful tools such as the IRM’s case management system or grievance databases were presented. However, the discussions were not limited to pre-defined topics. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences and lessons learned from their current and previous work with grievances, cases, environmental and social issues, or development projects.
Facilitators & Experts
The workshops and online modules were developed in collaboration with the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), a non-profit organization focusing on building collaboration on social, environmental, and economic challenges. Its managing director, David Fairman, was the lead facilitator in all three courses, supported by regional co-facilitators, Pablo Lumerman for Latin America and the Caribbean, Michele Ferenz for Africa and Mia Corpus as well as Nuno Delicado for Asia/Pacific.
Furthermore, industry leaders shared their insights during the live sessions and were available for questions after their presentations. Richard Bissell from the Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU) of the United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP) talked about the history and key principles of GRMs while referring to his extensive experience in the accountability sector. Sushma Kotagiri, of the Independent Project Accountability Mechanism (IPAM) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and formerly of the Special Project facilitator’s Office at the Asian Development Bank, presented about key process steps when running a GRM and included many examples and cases she was involved in. Erika Lennon, from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), also an active observer of the GCF Board, shared her experiences from the perspective of a civil society organization and highlighted the importance of mutual learning. Lastly, Lalanath de Silva, Head of the IRM, and Christine Reddell, Registrar and Case Officer, introduced the IRM’s case management system and explained compliance review processes with several case examples emerging from development projects.
Certificate & Community of Practice
All participants who successfully completed the online modules and attended all of the live sessions received a special certificate signed by the Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM) of the GCF, the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), and the Harvard-MIT Public Disputes Program. Additionally, the workshops also helped to form a community of practice among the participants, an initiative the IRM is proud to have started and wants to develop further within the coming years. The ultimate goal is to create a platform where practitioners of different levels and from various spheres can share experiences, lessons learned, and also feel a sense of belonging when establishing new relationships. Therefore, the IRM’s capacity-building efforts are by no means at an end – this was just the beginning of an exciting journey with many aspects to come, including ‘online training 2.0’ for GRMs of the GCF’s Direct Access Entities in 2021.