How can the IDB Group strengthen engagement with civil society and project affected communities?

BIC and over 20 other civil society organizations are raising concerns about the Inter-American Development Bank Group’s (IDB Group) process to review the IDB Group-Civil Society Action Plan. We urge the IDB to use this review as an opportunity to open space for civil society and project affected communities and allow their input on how the IDB can foster greater interaction with civil society and project affected communities.

As the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) undertakes a review of its Civil Society Action Plan to develop a 2022-2024 Action Plan, BIC and several other civil society organizations (CSOs) wrote to IDB Group President, Mauricio Claver-Carone, calling on the IDB to improve the structure of the Action Plan review process and use this as an opportunity to strengthen IDB Group’s relationship with civil society and project affected people. We believe the IDB president also has a unique opportunity to promote a cultural shift at the institution and open space for civil society and project-affected peoples, recognizing the important role they play in guaranteeing that IDB Group-sponsored development benefits, and does not harm, people and the planet.

In our collective experience, the IDB’s engagement with civil society and affected communities is worryingly weak compared to peer institutions. With respect to the process for reviewing the civil society action plan, CSOs are particularly concerned about indications that the IDB is not seeking robust CSO engagement in the process. For example, the IDB sent invitations only 10 days before the scheduled dialogue and invited only a limited number of CSOs. 

While civil society celebrates the IDB’s plans to review the Action Plan, as we welcome the opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the IDB and civil society and project affected communities, this will only happen if civil society is engaged throughout the process. We urge the IDB to open space for civil society and project affected people more broadly as well as recognize their role in preventing IDB-financed projects from causing harm. To promote a more inclusive and accountable Action Plan review process, civil society recommends the IDB: 

  1. Meet with Civil Society at the 2022 IDB Annual Meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay. 
  2. Send invitations for dialogues and consultation at least 30 days in advance and hold accessible consultations that include a diverse range of stakeholders.
  3. Include critical civil society, Indigenous Peoples, and other local organizations and people affected by IDB Group projects (including MICI requesters) in outreach efforts.    
  4. Provide stakeholders with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.  
  5. Seek input from stakeholders to facilitate their participation, creating agendas that are participatory and shared in advance.
  6. Develop a plan for ongoing communication with stakeholders after the consultation or dialogue. 

As we previously advocated, the IDB should foster an institutional culture, whereby the organization accepts that it makes mistakes and is receptive to its internal accountability mechanisms as well as the interactions and constructive criticism of external stakeholders, including civil society. The IDB president has the opportunity to spearhead this shift towards a more accountable bank.

To read civil society’s full recommendations for the IDB Group, please see the CSO letter in English here, in Spanish here, and in Portuguese here