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IDB boosts access, accountability with new policy for communities to voice concerns

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved today a new policy to establish the Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism. The policy will give better access to communities to express their concerns on Bank financed-projects in their countries and monitor their execution.  The new policy is part of ongoing efforts by the IDB to increase the transparency, accountability and effectiveness of its actions. The new Mechanism, also known as ICIM, provides a system to ensure compliance with the Bank’s operational policies during the design and implementation of projects financed by the institution.  ”The new Mechanism will reach a wider audience, increasing access for people to voice their concerns and monitor closely what the Bank is doing about their requests,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the IDB. “We are seeking to give communities a bigger say on projects financed by the Bank. This will help the IDB become a more effective development institution.” The new policy was established in consultation with civil society. Ana-Mita Betancourt, Coordinator of the Mechanism, said a draft of the ICIM proposal was available for public consultation on the IDB’s website for four months in 2009. The consultation process included meetings in 12 countries with 226 participants. More than 470 comments and suggestions were received on the draft of the new Mechanism.  “The creation of the new Mechanism has benefited from a process of open dialogue with civil society,” added Betancourt. “The new policy is in line with other institutions. It reflects the input from the public consultation process, and the lessons learned from prior cases. It is also consistent with the original mandate established by the IDB’s Board of Governors.” The new policy, which will take effect in 90 days, will replace the Independent Investigation Mechanism (IIM) in effect since 1994. The ICIM will be evaluated after two years of operations by the Bank’s independent evaluation unit.   Key Changes Greater Access: 
  • Under the new policy, one or more individuals residing in the project country, or a duly appointed representative located elsewhere, can voice their concerns through the Mechanism.
  • The new policy reduces filing hurdles. Requests may be submitted electronically or even orally.
  • Confidentiality requests will be honored.
  • The Mechanism will be widely promoted, using multiple outreach approaches.

Stronger institutional arrangements:
  • An independent office for the ICIM will be established, reporting only to the Board of Executive Directors. 
  • The ICIM adds an initial Consultation Phase that provides a forum to address complaints from project-affected people in a flexible and consensual way. A Board-appointed independent Project Ombudsperson will handle the Consultation Phase.
  • Outside experts will be chosen by the IDB’s Board to make up a panel of investigators for the Mechanism.  

Greater transparency and accountability:
  • People voicing their concerns through the Mechanism, or requesters, will be involved throughout the process. Requesters will have a role in reviewing the terms of reference for investigations. They will also be consulted by the Panel and their views will be transmitted to the Board of Directors. Moreover, they will be able to review the principal Panel findings in draft form, and will be consulted during monitoring activities.
  • Documents and activities of the ICIM will be posted on a public registry, to ensure transparency.
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