The Bank approved this year a new set of guidelines that will improve the relationship between its 26 country offices and civil society. In addition, the IDB has given civil society greater access to voice its concerns and monitor Bank-financed projects through a new Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (ICIM).
These actions are part of the IDB’s ongoing efforts to increase the development impact of its work in the region through greater transparency and accountability. Approved in January, the new guidelines encourage civil society to engage with the Bank in each of its member countries through the Civil Society Consulting Groups (ConSOC).
These consulting groups allow civil organizations to participate in consultations on Bank policies, country strategies and projects. Moreover, they also ensure an adequate representation of the diverse groups and communities in each borrowing member country in the consultations. The new ConSOCs will make the consultation process more systematic in borrowing member countries and will replace the Bank’s Civil Society Advisory Councils (CSAC).
New Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism
The IDB also approved this year the new Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (ICIM) that will allow affected communities to formally express their concerns on IDB-financed projects to the Bank. The new mechanism will take effect on May 18.
Established as an independent office which will report directly to the IDB’s Board of Executive Directors, the ICIM will receive complaints, launch initial consultations and address concerns, setting up panels of outside experts in order to ensure transparency.
The new mechanism has an ombudsperson to address complaints in a flexible and consensual way prior to moving to a formal review phase. It provides a stronger role to requestors. Moreover, filing requirements were simplified and now communities can file complaints personally, electronically or even orally, and in any language.
The new ICIM was adopted after consultative meetings in 12 countries involving 226 individuals. The IDB received 470 comments and suggestions.
As part of efforts to reach out to civil society, the IDB also conducted several public consultations throughout 2009. For the first time in its history, the Bank undertook consultations for a General Capital Increase, which included face-to-face consultations in seven cities in Latin America, North America and Europe. In addition, the Bank also sought inputs from civil society on a project for a gas pipeline in Peru (Camisea) and it began last year a public consultation on the Operational Policy on Gender Equality in Development.
Also in 2009, the IDB began a review of its information disclosure policy with an eye to ensuring adherence to internationally recognized best practices. The proposed policy, currently under preparation, will give citizens from the Bank’s member countries for the first time the right to dispute decisions on access to information. The policy will also develop a new system for classifying documents and information.
- Romina Tan Nicaretta