Real development respects human rights and is shaped by the people it is designed to benefit. However, ‘development’ – the way it is currently practised by Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) – in many cases has been associated with the dispossession of land, loss of resources, diminished livelihoods and environmental degradation. Each of the 758 complaints submitted over the past 21 years to the 11 Independent Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs) administered by DFIs covered in this report, tells the story of a community whose lives were made worse by so-called ‘development projects’. This number probably represents only the tip of the iceberg because most project-affected people are not aware of the availability of the IAMs.
While the aim of this report is to ensure that people who have been harmed by these development projects receive adequate remedy, the ultimate goal of the 11 organisations1 that have authored this report is that DFIs should pursue a development model based on human rights. The authors would like to see less need for the IAMs because fewer people are harmed. And they would also like to make sure that complaints are handled better in the future. Until then, the accountability systems at the DFIs provide a vital but crude backstop for those people and communities that have been harmed by the current development model.
Whether you see the glass of accountability as half full or half empty, the authors hope there is agreement that the system can be improved. The current report provides two sets of recommendations.