The Asian Development Bank (“ADB”) is a regional development bank. By providing assistance in the form of loans, grants, policy dialogue, technical assistance and equity investments, the ADB aims to alleviate poverty and promote benefit-sharing of sustained and inclusive growth. The ADB currently has 67 members.
The Accountability Mechanism (“AM”) of the ADB provides a forum where people adversely affected by ADB-assisted projects can voice and seek solutions to their problems and report alleged non-compliance of ADB’s operational policies and procedures.
Who can access it?
The following (groups of) people could file a complaint:
Any group of two or more who are directly, materially, and adversely affected;
- A local representative of affected people;
- In exceptional cases, a non-local representative of such affected persons, where local representation cannot be found and the Special Project Facilitator (''SPF'') or Complaint Receiving Officer (''CRO'') agrees.
How does it work?
The AM has two functions: problem solving and compliance review. Complaints will be channeled to the AM through the CRO. The CRO can also provide information to facilitate the complainants’ decision in choosing problem solving or compliance review as well as who to contact after registering the complaints. The complaints are also forwarded to the SPF or CRP. ADB offices such as a resident mission, regional office or representative office can also accept complaints and forward them unopened to the CRO.
This function focuses on finding solutions for those adversely affected by ADB-assisted projects. It is led by the SPF, who reports directly to the President of the ADB (“President”) and recommends actions to deal with the complaint, as well as monitors the implementation of any agreement. Before filing a complaint with the Office of SPF, good faith effort must be taken to address the problems to the ADB operations department that is responsible for the project. The complaint can cite both direct and material harm, and either actual present or expected harm.
The procedure is as follows:
- The SPF considers the eligibility of the complaint.
- If accepted, the SPF reviews and assesses the complaint in terms of the history, the stakeholders, issues of concerns and options for resolution, the stakeholders’ readiness for joint problem solving, and make recommendation for how the problem can be best solved. The review may include site visits, interviews, and meetings with the complainants, the borrower, and any other people the SPF believes would be helpful and beneficial. Information will also be obtained from the operations department.
- The SPF reports to the President and sends findings to complainant, borrower, and the operations department concerned for comments. Afterwards the SPF will decide whether to proceed with problem solving or not.
- Approaches taken for problem solving include: consultative dialogue, information sharing, joint fact-finding, and mediation. Implementation requires consent from all parties involved.
- Remedial actions may be adopted as a result of the process.
- Upon completion of problem solving, the complainants can request compliance review, to be carried out in parallel with implementation and monitoring of the remedial actions.
This function focuses on the direct and material harm alleged by project-affected people, and whether this is caused by ADB’s violations of its operational policies and procedures in formulating, processing, or implementing the project. It is done by an independent Compliance Review Panel ("CRP").
The process of compliance review is as follows:
- The CRP determines the eligibility of a request for compliance review and recommends to the ADB Board of Directors (“Board”) to authorize one.
- If approved, the CRP conducts an independent investigation, consulting the complainants, the borrower, the Board member representing the country concerned, Management, and staff. The review may include desk reviews, meetings, discussions, and a site visit.
- Upon completion of review, the CRP issues a report of findings to the abovementioned parties, who have opportunities to provide comments, before the final report is considered by the Board.
- Remedial actions will be proposed by the Management if non-compliance has been concluded, in agreement with the borrower and in consultation with the CRP.
For the problem solving process, a possible outcome may be a remedial action plan agreed upon by all parties to address the problems of the project-affected people, and simultaneously a compliance review process. The compliance review process may result in various outcomes such as changes in project implementation to bring it into compliance with ADB’s operational policies and procedures, or a remedial action plan to mitigate the harm caused.
The SPF will monitor the implementation of agreements resulting from the problem solving process. It will report annually to the President, with a copy to the Board, regarding the status of implementation.
The CRP monitors the implementation of its recommendations resulting from the compliance review and any remedial actions approved by the Board. Monitoring methodology may include consultations with the parties concerned, review of documents, and site visits.