The Issue

Internationally financed projects like mines, oil pipelines, and large dams are notorious for the grave environmental risks and harm they bring that are both local and global in scale. Communities come to us with issues such as point source air and soil pollution, groundwater depletion and contamination, and loss of local natural habitats.

At the same time as projects are causing local-level environmental destruction, they also often contribute to catastrophic global impacts such as deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions that cause biodiversity loss and climate change. Often, the communities bearing the brunt of these impacts are those who are most vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change and ecological harm — in our cases, those most affected are often the traditional conservators of natural resources.

The Opportunity

Accountability offices are uniquely positioned to help local communities communicate environmental risks or harm to international investors making project and sector wide decisions. These accountability office complaints can lead to independent findings of non-compliance with environmental policies that highlight weaknesses in a governance system, can help institutions and companies identify needed remedial and prevention measures, and can lead to agreements to resolve issues through dispute resolution.

At a systems level, accountability offices can improve transparency and responsiveness of international institutions to their missions, mandates, and policies.

At the governance level, there is an opportunity for climate finance and investment decision-makers to use the Accountability Console, Accountability Counsel’s database of all complaints ever filed with accountability offices to identify issues as part of standard due diligence.

Case Study of Our Strategy in Action

Accountability Counsel provides legal support to community groups in Lamu, Kenya who are united to stop a proposed coal-fired power plant that threatens to permanently and dramatically disrupt the fragile marine ecosystem of the entire Lamu archipelago, and also contribute to climate change.
Our strategy in our Communities program is to partner with Save Lamu in their work to hold international banks and institutions accountable to their committed environmental and social rules to prevent this project’s devastating environmental impacts.

Our Research program strategy is to document the Lamu case along with nearly 450 other cases catalogued in our public database, the Accountability Console, that raise environmental harm in accountability office complaints to international institutions.

Our Policy team’s strategy on this issue is to engage at the systems level, using our case experience in Lamu and research into use of financial intermediaries to hide fossil fuel finance, to advocate for transparency, strong due diligence standards, accountable investments, and good governance to prevent environmental harm.

Relevant Cases Include: Lamu Coal-Fired Power Plant, Kenya | Ridge to Reef Conservation Project, Myanmar | Oil in the Amazon, Peru | Oro Province Palm Oil, PNG | Hydroelectric Power in Oaxaca, Mexico | Biomass Project in Buchanan, LiberiaMining in the South Gobi, Mongolia | Agribusiness in Ukraine | Water Project in Jharkhand, India

Related Blogs and News

Kenya: Lamu Coal-Fired Power Plant
Myanmar: Ridge to Reef Project
Peru: Oil in the Amazon
Mexico: Oaxaca Hydroelectric
Liberia: Biomass Project in Buchanan
Mongolia: South Gobi Mining
Ukraine: Agribusiness
India: Jharkhand Water Project