Lessons and Highlights from 2020

  • Article type News
  • Publication date 16 Mar 2021

Thabiti lives along Lake Naivasha in Kenya and is a subsistence fisher. He’s concerned about a wind farm development along the shore of the lake and the underground noise which he thinks will disturb fish stocks. He does some research on his smart phone and sees that the project is funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) but is being implemented by a local Kenyan environmental services company. He wants to file a complaint but is now unsure whether to file it with the Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM) of the GCF or the complaints mechanism that the Kenyan company has set up. What should he do?

This very question came up in 2020 when a complaint was filed with the IRM about a project in India that is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Complaints don’t have to be filed in any sequence, and if it’s a GCF project, complaints can go to either the IRM or the grievance mechanism of the accredited entity implementing the project (in this case, UNDP). For this complaint, the complainants chose to come to the IRM, and the IRM declared the complaint ineligible (for the reasons set out in our eligibility report). The complainants then submitted the complaint to the UNDP grievance mechanism – the Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU) – and SECU declared the complaint eligible (for the reasons set out in their eligibility report). Having multiple grievance mechanisms increases access and opportunities for redressing potential harm. The IRM looks at GCF policies and procedures, whereas SECU looks at UNDP policies and procedures. The information before the two mechanisms may be different too. And ultimately the results may be different. This is all part of a normal, healthy “ecosystem of redress”.  

Stories such as this one, and more information about our work in 2020, can be found in our recently published 2020 Annual Report. In addition to complaints handling, the IRM also undertook important capacity building, outreach and advisory work in 2020.

In terms of its capacity building efforts, and building a strong “ecosystems of redress”, the IRM trained grievance redress practitioners from over 60 of the GCF’s direct access entities in 2020. These trainings were conducted online because of COVID, but the IRM took full advantage of the opportunities presented by online learning and crafted the trainings around its comprehensive online learning modules. Three regional workshops of three weeks each were conducted for Latin America and the Caribbean in July; Africa in August/September; and Asia and the Pacific in October 2020. To hear more about what the participants had to say, take a look at the videos on our multimedia page which were compiled based on interviews with representatives from the different regions. The IRM also launched a community of practice of grievance redress and accountability mechanisms (GRAM) towards the end of 2020 and has exciting plans with its GRAM partners to further strengthen that community in 2021.

The IRM also took the opportunity to learn from others and presented its first advisory report to the GCF Board on preventing sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) in GCF projects. This report was based on lessons learnt from two complaints that were submitted to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel. The complaints concerned widespread sexual abuse and harassment of women and girls in the shadow of two World Bank projects in Uganda and the DRC. One of the key benefits of building and strengthening communities of practice is to ensure that we learn from the painful lessons of others, so that atrocities like the sexual abuse and harassment in Uganda and DRC are not repeated in relation to other development projects. The GCF Secretariat responded positively to the IRM’s advisory report, and the report was well received by the Board and Active Observers. The report has since been used and cited in various other reports and has contributed positively to the development of the GCF’s approach to preventing SEAH in GCF projects.

2020 was a productive year for the IRM, despite COVID challenges. The IRM has proved its resilience and looks forward to building on its initiatives in 2021. For enquiries, please reach out to us – irm@gcfund.org.