23 September 2020

Transparency of Financial Sector Investments Should be a Priority for IFC Reform Process: Save Lamu

The final report of the external review of environmental and social accountability at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) makes critical recommendations to enhance the transparency and sustainability of the IFC’s financial intermediary (FI) portfolio. The IFC invests billions of dollars into FI clients such as commercial banks, private equity funds and hedge funds, who then on-lend to generally-obscure subprojects with little oversight. The report encourages the IFC to undertake important reforms to improve accountability for environmental and social impacts, including greater due diligence, supervision and transparency of its FI investments. The report also recommends that the IFC’s accountability mechanism, the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO), take steps to clarify its approach to FI cases, to achieve greater predictability and accessibility for affected communities.

Save Lamu, a Kenyan community-based organization that has direct experience with the challenges of obtaining accountability for FI investments, welcomes these recommendations. In a comment submitted to the Board of Directors, supporting the recommendations from the external review team, its members wrote:

Mohamed Shee, a farmer-fisherman in Kwasasi. 109 farmers in Kwasasi
have already been displaced by the Lamu coal plant access road.

“Save Lamu is a community-based umbrella organisation made up of over 40 other organisations from Lamu, Kenya. Together with the Kwasasi Mvunjeni Farmers Self-Help Group, Save Lamu filed a complaint to the CAO in April 2019 about the risks and impacts of a proposed coal-fired power plant, planned for construction on the delicate and biodiverse Lamu coastline. The IFC was linked to that development through numerous financial intermediary investments. Those FI links were difficult to identify and by the time the complaint was filed, the links were broken.

We believe that the IFC needs to strengthen its commitment to accountability by changing its own policies and by supporting a strong and independent CAO. We strongly agree with the report’s recommendation that the IFC strengthen its due diligence and supervision of FI clients and enhance the transparency of IFC-funded portfolios and sub-projects. We also support the recommendation that the IFC and its clients provide remedy for harms caused by IFC projects. We expect the IFC to respond to the recommendations in the report with urgency and in good faith. We look forward to being included in the development of new policies and procedures through public consultations.”

Accountability Counsel joined with over 40 organizations to comment on the final report of the external review and will continue to push for transparent, inclusive consultation as its recommendations are considered, adopted, and implemented. For these and other comments on the external review, please see:

For more information about Save Lamu’s frustrating experience challenging financial intermediary investments, please visit this page on our website.