What is the point of having a grievance redress mechanism (GRM) if no one knows about it? Can we really pat ourselves on the back as a GRM for not receiving complaints?
At the Independent Redress Mechanism (IRM) of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), we don’t treat the absence of complaints as a sure sign that the GCF is doing well to ensure that there are no negative impacts associated with its projects. While it may be the case that none of the GCF’s projects are having negative impacts, it may also be the case that affected people just don’t know how, and where to complain. It could also be that affected people know where and how to complain but for one reason or another, including poverty or intimidation, are unable to file a complaint.
This is why the IRM has an outreach mandate. It is the job of the IRM to ensure that potentially affected people know that they have the right to submit a complaint to the IRM or the grievance redress mechanism of an accredited entity, and that they know that their complaints will be taken seriously.
The IRM’s procedures make it as easy and as simple as possible for a person to complain. Very few requirements need to be met to submit a complaint. All that’s needed is that a person (or a group of persons, or a representative on their behalf) contact the IRM (through any means they can such as mail, email, a phone call, or through our website) and state that they have been negatively affected by a GCF project. There are some types of complaints such as those on procurement, fraud or corruption that we won’t take because those are dealt with by the Independent Integrity Unit.
In the last couple of months, the IRM has met with various civil society organisations (CSOs) and indigenous peoples (IP) groups to spread the word of the IRM. To capitalise on opportunities that don’t overextend the IRM’s budget, the IRM has met with CSOs and IP groups on the side-lines of various GCF events, including the Board meetings and the Global Programming Conference held in Songdo.
In September, the IRM’s Registrar and Case Officer travelled to Dhaka, Bangladesh for a two-day workshop for South Asian CSOs co-hosted by the IRM/GCF and a number of other International Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) and CSOs. Topics covered included an introduction to the international financial institutions and their IAMs, how to find project information, CSO experiences in engaging with the IAMs, how to file complaints, and bilateral meetings with individual participants who were interested in speaking about specific cases or projects.
In recognition of IPs as a distinct stakeholder group with different interests and needs, the IRM’s Registrar and Case Officer also participated in the Asia Regional Workshop for the Implementation of the GCF’s Indigenous Peoples Policy in Bangkok, Thailand, organised by Tebtebba. This event underscored the importance of effective implementation of the GCF’s IP Policy, which was adopted by the GCF Board in 2018, and is widely recognised as one of the best IP Policies in the development financing space. The IRM briefed IP representatives on its mandate, and how to access the IRM if IPs have specific complainants relating to GCF projects.
Capitalising on local opportunities, the Head of the IRM also spoke at the 12th Asia Human Rights Forum in Seoul, on a panel which considered opportunities for enhancing the effectiveness of non-state-based grievance mechanisms for business-related human rights abuses.
In addition to these in-person events, the IRM is constantly looking for ways to improve its communications strategy, to ensure that it is conducting outreach in the most effective way possible, and that it is targeting the widest possible net of potential complainants and civil society organisations that work closely with affected communities. To this end, the IRM will be consulting stakeholders on the upcoming revision of its communications strategy. Watch this space for continuous improvement and engagement, and please help us in spreading the word of the IRM!