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13 Apr 2023

Center for International Environmental Law

More than 4,500 people sign petition urging IFC to guarantee justice for communities harmed by development projects

'Thousands of Individuals Urge the International Finance Corporation to Guarantee Justice for Communities Harmed by Development Projects'

This week, 4,577 individuals from around the world demanded that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) guarantee justice for communities harmed by international development projects. An alliance of civil society organizations (CSOs) hand-delivered the thousands of signatures in a petition to the IFC Board. The call echoes a similar statement from organizations delivered in recent weeks. 

The delivery took place during a Roundtable Discussion with CSOs and the Board of the World Bank during the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.

In March, the IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) (members of the World Bank Group) released a long-awaited draft framework on remedial action and responsible exit. The framework, which resulted from an independent expert review requested by the Board, was supposed to explain how the institutions would address the well-known human rights and environmental harms caused by some of their investments. But it fell far short of what is needed — the proposal did not admit that the institutions have a human rights obligation to remedy harms to which they have contributed, and it failed to provide a comprehensive plan for delivering remedy to affected communities.

IFC and MIGA are seeking public feedback on the draft until April 20, and CSOs have engaged in consultations urging leadership to act on their responsibility to right the wrongs caused by their investments. In addition to the public petition addressed to the IFC/MIGA Board, more than a dozen organizations will submit a joint comment to the IFC & MIGA next week outlining necessary improvements to the proposal. 

Spokespeople from the alliance of civil society organizations that delivered the petition issued the following statements: 

Megan Pearson, Policy Associate at Accountability Counsel: 

Most people understand that if you make a mistake, you should be responsible for the consequences. When an IFC project contributes to environmental or human rights harm, the IFC should contribute to remedy for that harm. It’s that simple.

Carla García Zendejas, Director of People, Land, and Resources at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL):

Time and again, project-affected communities have used the accountability systems at the IFC to seek remedy from harm. But entire communities from Chile, India, Egypt, Guatemala, Colombia, and too many others remain empty handed. Something is fundamentally wrong when an institution that is meant to benefit people can cause more harm than good. A commitment from the IFC to guarantee remedy is long overdue.  

Amy Ekdawi, Co-Executive Director at Arab Watch Coalition: 

When the IFC divests from an active case with the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), its Management Action Plan (MAP) is simply leaving the community paying a hefty price for the IFC to “learn free lessons” for future investments. The community files complaints because they want remedy, not because they want to give the IFC free lessons at the expense of their suffering.