This description relates to the UNDP Stakeholder Response mechanism (SRM) function of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). For a description of the UNDP Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU), click here.
UNDP is the development network of the United Nations, working in more than 170 countries and focused on eradicating poverty and reducing inequality. UNDP helps countries develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, and institutional capabilities in order to achieve development results, inclusive growth, environmental sustainability, good governance and security.
All UNDP Projects and Programmes must comply with UNDPs Social and Environmental Standards (‘SES’). The SES seek to:
- Strengthen the social and environmental outcomes of UNDP Programmes and Projects
- Avoid adverse impacts to people and the environment
- Minimize, mitigate, and manage adverse impacts where avoidance is not possible
- Strengthen UNDP and partner capacities for managing social and environmental risks
- Ensure full and effective stakeholder engagement, including through an accountability mechanism to address concerns of project-affected people
To ensure compliance with Standards, UNDP must conduct a Social and Environmental Screening Procedure for all proposed projects. The SESP assesses project activities for social and environmental risks and opportunities, and helps ensure that SES requirements are considered and addressed during project preparation.
The SES are supported by an Accountability Mechanism that includes two avenues for responding to concerns related to UNDP-supported projects and programmes:
- A Social and Environmental Compliance Unit (SECU), which investigates concerns of project-affected stakeholders that UNDP is not in compliance with the Standards and Screening Procedure, and
- A Stakeholder Response Mechanism (SRM), which helps project-affected stakeholders, UNDP's partners (governments, NGOs, businesses) and others jointly address grievances or disputes related to projects supported by the UNDP.
Groups or individuals who wish to raise concerns about the impacts of a UNDP project have a choice. They can:
- Ask SECU to investigate UNDP's compliance with its social and environmental commitments,
- Attempt to resolve complaints and disputes through the SRM, or
- Ask for both compliance review through SECU and an engagement process through SRM.
Who can access it?
Any person or group who believes they are adversely affected by a UNDP project, or at risk of adverse impacts from a proposed UNDP project, may file a request to the SRM.
Requests may be submitted by an authorized representative, on behalf of a person or group of people who believe they have been or may be adversely affected by a UNDP project. In this case, representatives must include documentation that directly concerned stakeholders have requested representation and the UNDP retains the option to communicate directly with the concerned stakeholders.
Anonymous requests are not accepted. The SRM’s Guidance states that the UNDP staff responsible for implementing the SRM process will respect requests for confidentiality and make every effort to maintain confidentiality where the requestor has a concern about retaliation or other adverse impacts, until and unless the requestor agrees to disclosure of his or her identity.
The SRM is not intended for internal staff issues or issues between the UNDP and its implementing partners, contractors or vendors.
How does it work?
Requests may be made through the UNDP Country Office in the country where the project is located. Requests can also be made through UNDP Headquarters in New York. They can further be made through an online request form (not yet available), email, toll-free telephone hotline (in any language), mail, fax, or an in-person meeting with the Country Office SRM “Focal Point.” Requesters may also use the submission form to describe their request.
The SRM is intended to supplement the proactive stakeholder engagement that is required of UNDP and its Implementing Partners throughout the project cycle. People may request an SRM process when they have used standard channels for raising grievances through the project’s management, and are not satisfied with the response.
There are no strict format or language requirements to filing a SRM request. It is helpful if the request includes the following information:
- Name, address, telephone number, and other contact information.
- Whether the requestors wish to keep their identity confidential during the initial assessment — the requestors may not remain anonymous while engaged in the dispute resolution process.
- Name, location, and nature of the UNDP project or programme.
- How the requestors believe they have been, or are likely to be, adversely affected by the UNDP-supported project or programme.
- A description of other efforts, including other dispute resolution processes, the requestors have undertaken to resolve their concerns.
- The requestors’ interest in working with other stakeholders to resolve their concerns.
- If a third party, such as a civil society organization, is filing a request on behalf of an affected individual or community, the request should include evidence the third party is working on behalf of the individual or community.
If the request appears to be eligible, the SRM focal point or other UNDP staff will then assess the potential that a stakeholder engagement process would succeed. The UNDP SRM staff may:
- Contact the requestor directly to learn more about the situation and issues that have led to the request;
- Contact other stakeholders within UNDP and among programme and project partners, to ask about issues raised in the request and ways to resolve those issues (maintaining confidentiality of the requestor’s identity if so requested)
- Suggest specific actions to UNDP and other stakeholders, if it appears that the complaint or dispute may be relatively easy for the stakeholders to resolve.
A proposed response would include the following:
- A restatement of the requestor concerns;
- A description of the proposed response with and explanation of why the SRM is proposing it;
- A list of the requestor’s choices, given the proposed response. This may include an agreement to proceed, further dialogue on a proposed action or participation in an assessment and engagement process.
The SRM may provide four basic response options:
- Indication that the request is ineligible, and explain why;
- Refer the requestor(s) to a relevant and credible implementing partner’s project-level or organizational-level mechanism and explain why;
- Propose direct action by the Country Office to resolve the grievance/dispute;
- Propose further assessment and engagement by UNDP with the requestor and other stakeholders to determine jointly the best way to resolve the grievance/ dispute.
The requestor may agree or disagree with the proposed response. If the requestor disagrees with a finding of ineligibility, rejects a proposed direct action, or does not want to participate in a more extensive stakeholder assessment and engagement process, the SRM must ensure that it fully understands the reasons. If possible, the SRM should revise the proposed approach to meet the requestor’s concerns. If there is still no agreement, the SRM must ensure the requestor understands that other forms of redress may be available outside of the project and UNDP’s structure, whether through the national judicial system or other administrative channels.
For sensitive and challenging cases, or where the SRM as a whole has limited credibility and/or capacity to manage the response, the SRM may seek agreement from the requestor and other stakeholders to use independent mediation in response to the request.
When there is agreement between a requestor and the SRM to move forward with the proposed action, or a relatively simple direct dialogue or negotiation process, then the response should be implemented, with SRM monitoring to ensure that the response resolves the issues raised by the requestor.
In cases where the initial response to the request is to initiate broader stakeholder assessment and engagement, the assessment process may be conducted by SRM staff themselves, or by consultants or others perceived as impartial and effective by the requestor, SRM, senior Country Office management, and other relevant stakeholders. The main purpose of the assessment and engagement process is to clarify:
- The issues and events that have led to the request
- The stakeholders involved in those issues and events
- The stakeholders’ views, interests and concerns on the relevant issues
- Whether key stakeholders are willing and able to engage in a joint, collaborative process (which may include joint fact finding, dialogue and/or negotiation) to resolve the issues
- How the stakeholders will be represented, and what their decision making authority will be
- What work plan and time frame the stakeholders could use to work through the issues
- What resources they will need, and who will contribute them. In the first case the SRM’s intervention aims at resolving the concerns of project-level affected requestors using a collaborative, non-adversarial approach between Country Office staff and requestors.
The involvement of the SRM will continue as long as the stakeholders believe it is beneficial, or until agreement is reached. One or more stakeholders may decide not to proceed while the process continues. If stakeholders leave, UNDP will decide if and when the process will end.
When agreement is reached among all participating stakeholders, the SRM will submit a report describing this agreement to UNDP staff, the UNDP Administrator, and all participating stakeholders.
Monitoring and Enforcement
The SRM will include with any agreement an agreed plan for monitoring its implementation. Monitoring may be as simple as a telephone call with the requestor and a discussion with the relevant Country Office staff to confirm that a relatively straightforward response has been fully implemented. Or, effective monitoring may require ongoing meetings of a multi-stakeholder group that has reached agreement (e.g. to review implementation of a set of commitments for consultation with indigenous people, or implementation of a new approach to developing a voter registry). The SRM will issue a monitoring report at least annually until the agreement has been fully implemented. All monitoring plans and reports will be made available to the requestors, and publicly on the SRM Website.