United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, Asia-Pacific
CSO Networking Session | 6 June
Unpacking the Toolbox: What are the tools and strategies for civil society and affected communities to hold development financial institutions accountable?
Organized by: Accountability Counsel (AC), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and International Accountability Project (IAP)
In the post-pandemic world, the global economy has been increasingly volatile while domestic economies are bracing themselves for serious impacts. Development financial institutions (DFIs) including multilateral and bilateral banks have increasingly played a crucial role in revitalising developing countries’ economies. DFIs have filled the gap in financing and investing in infrastructure development, industrialisation, and natural resource extractions in countries across the Asia-Pacific region.
However, these development projects and investments, if not taken into account the meaningful consultation with stakeholders, have often caused adverse environmental impacts and irreversible social divisions to local communities. The populations who are most disproportionately affected by these social, economic, and environmental harms are those who are underprivileged and most marginalised, for example, women and girls, elderly, small-scaled peasants, indigenous peoples, ethnic and religious minorities, and migrant workers. These affected community members have experienced the loss of their incomes, livelihoods, ways of life, as well as access to land and natural resources usually without the means and capacities to hold DFIs accountable.
In this regard, the Accountability Counsel (AC), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUMASIA), and International Accountability Project (IAP) have jointly proposed a side event entitled, ‘Unpacking the toolbox: what are the tools and strategies for civil society and communities to hold development financial institutions accountable’ for the upcoming United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, Asia Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand on June 6-9, 2023.
About the session
The organisers see the importance of bringing the proposed side event/workshop in the Forum with the strong motivation to shift the conventional narrative and change the realities of the affected populations and communities. The workshop aims to strengthen the capacities of civil society, human rights advocates, and communities in the Asia-Pacific region in advocating for increased transparency in DFIs’ operations and ensure access to remedies for affected communities. Specifically, the session seeks to equip participants with knowledge, tools, and strategies to hold DFIs and multilateral banks accountable for environmental destruction and human rights abuses associated with their investments and development projects.
The session will be carried out in a world cafe set-up in which participants will learn about available tools, useful database, strategies of resistance and resources from facilitators and fellow participants. There will be three different stations in the room. In each station, facilitators will discuss effective tools and strategies with examples of success and challenges based on actual cases and practices. After the first round,
participants will rotate and choose a new station of their interests. Participants will have two rounds to choose two stations that are most interesting to them. The facilitator will also encourage participants to exchange their experiences of working with affected communities during the interaction at the learning station. Lastly,
the session will be wrapped up by a facilitator, and participants will share their key learnings and takeaways.
The key objectives of this session are to:
Strengthen the capacities of civil society groups, advocates, and representatives to support affected communities in demanding accountability from DFIs and multilateral banks
Exchange knowledge, skills, and experiences on engagement with DFIs and their environmental and human rights impacts using peer-to-peer learning method and participatory approach.
Connect people and build a network of CSOs, advocates and representatives working in the field of development finance and human rights in the Asia Pacific region.
Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
What are the available mechanisms and remedies for impacted communities to hold DFIs accountable and what do these mechanisms and remedies look like in practice? What have been the lessons learned, good practices, and challenges in accessing remedies and engaging accountability mechanisms?
How do we strengthen the capacities of human rights defenders and communities at risk?
What tools can impacted communities and civil society groups use in order to promote their right to information and development as well as exact accountability and justice?