Based on prior civil society experience, the IDB’s engagement with civil society and affected communities is worryingly weak compared to peer institutions. Consultation processes are not the exception. As the IDB undertakes a review of the Access to Information Policy, which began on August 29, civil society organizations are particularly concerned about indications that the IDB is not seeking to hold a strong consultation process. For example, there are no confirmed dates for in-person consultations. We believe that the way in which the AIP review process is currently structured inhibits civil society and project affected communities' engagement in the process, and thus is less likely to lead to a strong outcome.
We celebrate the fact that IDB is reviewing its AIP, since it represents an opportunity to strengthen the policy and align it with international standards and the Environmental and Social Policy Framework (ESPF). Still, we urge the IDB to demonstrate its commitment to a strong AIP by holding a robust, meaningful, and inclusive consultation process as a first step and necessary condition to achieve a positive outcome.
To promote a more inclusive and accountable AIP review process, civil society recommends the IDB:
- Update and organize all information related to the consultation process in one location on the IDB’s website so that it is transparent and accessible to CSOs and other stakeholders.
- Incorporate a 30-day public comment period for external stakeholders to send comments and recommendations to a second AIP draft.
- Proactively seek input from stakeholders to facilitate their participation.
- Eliminate the barriers present in the current consultation plan to enable meaningful participation. For example, the requirement to register on an electronic platform with unclear data protection and privacy policies.
- Confirm and disseminate the dates and locations in advance for the in-person meetings.
- Open a comment period to receive public comments regarding the AIP implementation guidelines.
- Meet with civil society at the IDB Group Annual Meeting in Panama, 2023.
Civil society organizations advocate for the IDB to be a leader in access to information in the region, following the standard set by the Environmental and Social Policy Framework. The expectation is for the IDB to increase reliance on the highest access to information standards to guarantee better environmental and social governance. However, the IDB still needs to foster an institutional culture whereby its consultation processes are not only robust, meaningful, and inclusive; but also receptive to the interactions and constructive criticism of civil society and project affected communities.