• 16 August 2018

    Fisherfolk Communities in Northern Sri Lanka Organize to Protect Livelihoods From Proposed Asian Development Bank Project

    By Tom Weerachat, International Accountability Project
    Earlier this year, I found myself in the quiet town of Jaffna, in Northern Sri Lanka, sharing a meal with fisherfolk from different parts of the northern province. We were seated in a newly built hotel in the middle of town, surrounded by war-torn buildings and ruined historic palaces. Our meal consisted of a simple yet delicious fish curry, served with rice and topped with spiced coconut meat. The food was unlike anything I had tasted before, unique to the region and distinctive in flavor. My companions explained that while they currently had access to abundant fish from the sea, they worried they would lose their traditional foods and livelihoods as a result of a new development project that was being proposed by the government.
  • 13 August 2018

    The key for EXIM’s future lies in accountability

    By Kindra Mohr & Stephanie Amoako, Accountability Counsel
    …With these nominations, proponents hope that EXIM will soon have authority to approve larger transactions. However, any conversation on EXIM’s future, particularly with a potential expansion of its portfolio, must include strengthening its accountability framework to effectively address complaints from communities affected by EXIM’s activities.
  • 10 August 2018

    Indigenous people demand their say in power project

    By Bibek Subedi, The Kathmandu Post
    Indigenous communities in Lamjung district have demanded that the Marshyangdi Corridor 220 kV Transmission Line Project respect their rights and seek their Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) before beginning construction. Locals, on Thursday , wrote to the European Investment Bank (EIB) which is funding the project, demanding forward looking action from the multilateral lender.
  • 8 August 2018

    Why Lamjung communities are demanding EU funded energy project respect rights

    By Siddharth Akali, Accountability Counsel & Shankar Limbu, LAHURNIP
    Today, on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, communities in Lamjung district, Nepal are reiterating their demand that hydropower sector development in their region follow the international legal standard called Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
  • 24 July 2018

    World Bank announces two new appointments

    By Bretton Woods Project
    …The World Bank has previously faced criticism from civil society organisations (CSOs) about the hiring process for members of the Inspection Panel. Kindra Mohr of US-based CSO Accountability Counsel noted that, “The legitimacy and independence of the Panel are closely tied to this hiring process. Given that the Bank’s Board is currently considering how to expand the Panel’s ‘toolkit’ and enhance its ability to address community concerns, the Bank’s leadership should also update this hiring practice to ensure that the Panel is independent in both perception and reality, reflecting best practice at other international financial institutions.”
  • 17 July 2018

    It Takes Consultation to Help a Village

    By Rachel Cernansky, The New York Times
    …This relatively simple step — consulting the people who would benefit from the project — is overlooked in a vast majority of overseas philanthropic and development projects, whether they are led by large institutions like OPIC or the World Bank or even small nonprofits. “People are well intentioned, but a little bit of good intention with a lot of money can do a lot of harm,” said Natalie Bridgeman-Fields, a human rights lawyer. Her organization, Accountability Counsel, works with communities in developing countries to file grievances in an effort to hold large institutions like OPIC accountable when their projects bring harm rather than improvement to the people to be served…
  • 13 July 2018

    The Business of Giving Visits the Offices of Accountability Counsel

    By The Business of Giving
    In The Business of Giving’s radio segment Better Than Most, a regular feature that examines the best places to work among social good businesses and nonprofit organizations, Denver Frederick interviews Accountability Counsel’s San Francisco office.
  • 28 June 2018

    How the EBRD can seize the day in sustainable development

    By Kindra Mohr, Accountability Counsel
    To truly invest in changing lives and preventing human rights violations, the EBRD must ensure that its independent accountability office can conduct rigorous investigations into allegations of abuse in financed projects – and hold itself accountable.
  • 23 June 2018

    Living next door to 17 million chickens: ‘We want a normal life’

    By Oksana Grytsenko, The Guardian
    Ukrainian villagers living in the shadow of Europe’s biggest chicken farm are fighting back – not just against the company but the development banks funding it.
  • 16 May 2018

    The World Bank Should Stop Dodging Accountability

    By Komala Ramachandra, Human Rights Watch
    In another case from India, tea workers alleged labor rights abuses, in violation of international law and the IFC’s own rules, on IFC-funded tea plantations. Tea workers also appealed to the CAO, which found numerous shortcomings in IFC’s assessment of risks associated with child labor, fair compensation, and freedom of association. They also found IFC wasn’t providing a way out of poverty for workers, contrary to its goal of alleviating poverty. But local civil society say that little has changed for tea workers in the nine years since IFC invested in the tea plantations.
  • 10 May 2018

    Do No Harm: Accountability for impact investing

    By Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Accountability Counsel
    Impact Investment can be hard to get right and easy to get wrong. How can they avoid the unintended consequences for their investments? Impact investors seek social change and sustainability. Yet for investments in areas with weak rule of law, local conflicts can undermine both financial and impact returns and unintended consequences can harm the very people and environments that investors are trying to help. What tools do investors have to understand the local context and address conflicts? New and emerging tools are needed. Accountability Counsel, a global legal advocacy nonprofit, partnered with Stanford Law School’s Law and Policy Lab to investigate these tools and develop guidelines for adoption. This interview with Accountability Counsel founder and Executive Director Natalie Bridgeman Fields describes the tools needed for effective philanthropy.
  • 4 May 2018

    Tea garden deaths on the rise in World Bank-funded plantations, claim local NGOs

    By Tora Agarwala, The Indian Express
    The first complaint about the conditions in the APPL-run plantations to the CAO was filed in February 2013. In November, 2016, the CAO released its findings — and in response, the IFC formulated an action plan based on its 2014 audit by independent NGO Solidaridad. As part of this plan called Project Unnati, the body has set certain goals to improve the living and working conditions of the workers by 2017. The complainants, however, feel that none of the promises have been met. “The World Bank has utterly failed to exercise its leverage to address the CAO’s damning findings,” said Anirudha Nagar, South Asia Director of Accountability Counsel, a supporting organisation. “While APPL management lines their pockets, the Bank should be providing funding and ensuring budgets are appropriately directed towards the health and safety of workers in the face of preventable deaths. The Bank is not being the honest, neutral broker it holds itself out to be.”
  • 2 May 2018

    Rights Denied In The Name Of Development: The ‘World Bank Approach’ In Assam Tea Gardens

    By Richu Sanil, Youth Ki Awaaz
    The tea gardens under scanner are those of the Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) which is the second largest producer and supplier of tea in India, with 25 plantations spread across the states of Assam and West Bengal and employing around 30,000 workers. APPL is owned by Tata Global Beverages, Tata Investment Corporation, tea workers, and the International Finance Corporation( IFC, private sector side of the World Bank Group). A new submission to the World Bank’s accountability office by community-based civil society organizations, Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis (PAJHRA) and People’s Action for Development (PAD), with the assistance of US-based human rights advocacy group Accountability Counsel, underlines the continuing neglect of workers’ rights by the international body.
  • 30 April 2018

    The IFC’s worker shareholder failure

    By Anirudha Nagar, Accountability Counsel
    Almost exactly nine years ago, on 27 April 2009, the World Bank’s private sector arm—the International Finance Corporation (IFC)—invested in Amalgamated Plantations Pvt. Ltd (APPL), which has 25 tea plantations in Assam and West Bengal. The IFC owns 16% of APPL, while tea workers themselves, some 16,500 of them, own 9% equity. The Tata Group retains a majority 66% stake through Tata Global Beverages and Tata Investment Corp. Ltd. The IFC predicted that the worker share ownership programme would “empower employees by making them stronger stakeholders”. The hope was that the IFC’s social and labour standards would help improve labour conditions, and the investment would support over 155,000 people that live and work on the plantations.
  • 27 April 2018

    Indian workers dying on World Bank-backed tea plantations, say campaigners

    By Anuradha Nagaraj, Thomson Reuters Foundation
    The IFC and Tata Global Beverages in 2009 set up Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL), which is partly owned by workers and was intended to end labor abuses on plantations previously run by Tata in the northeastern state of Assam. “Nine years on, we hear of tea workers who have died following work-related accidents, prolonged exposure to hazardous pesticides and lack of adequate medical care,” said Wilfred Topno of People’s Action for Development. After the 2016 investigation, the IFC said it was working with APPL to improve conditions. But in their complaint to the CAO, the advocacy groups said not enough has been done. “The World Bank has utterly failed to exercise its leverage to address the CAO’s damning findings,” said Anirudha Nagar, of the Accountability Counsel.
  • 13 April 2018

    Impact investors must set up ‘accountability tools,’ experts say

    By Sophie Edwards, Devex
    The impact investing community needs to create innovative accountability tools to deal with high-risk environments and ensure their investments are delivering positive social and environmental impacts. This was the message delivered by Natalie Bridgeman Fields, founder and executive director of Accountability Counsel, and Gayle Peterson, director of social finance and impact investing programs at Saïd Business School, during a side event held as part of the Skoll World Forum in Oxford on Thursday.
  • 11 April 2018

    Spring Meetings 2018 Preamble: Despite favourable growth trends, World Bank and IMF’s attempts to tackle debt and inequality remain elusive

    By Bretton Woods Project
    The potential perils of privileging the private sector were highlighted by a recent UK National Audit Office report on public-private partnerships (PPPs), which probed the fiscal cost of PPPs, and a December report by Belgium-based CSO Counter Balance, which stressed the social and environmental risks of the Bank’s push for mega-infrastructure projects. Indeed, Natalie Bridgeman Fields of US-based CSO Accountability Counsel argued in a February Devex op-ed that the Bank’s private-sector promotion, “will be a setup that harms the poor and vulnerable and widens the wealth and equity gap.”
  • 9 April 2018

    Community watches over creek’s turtles

    By Mexico News Daily
    In 2010, Grupo Comexhidro wanted to build a small hydroelectric power plant on Sal creek, and cleared a one-kilometer stretch of shoreline to do so. But according to residents of Santa Úrsula the company did not consult with them and little information regarding the project was made public. With the support of several non-governmental organizations, including the international Accountability Counsel, residents halted the project.
  • 9 March 2018

    What a new U.S. development finance institution needs to succeed

    By Kindra Mohr & Brian McWalters, Accountability Counsel
    Last week, a bipartisan group of senators and representatives introduced the Better Utilization of Investment Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, which, if enacted, would create a new agency called the United States International Development Finance Corporation. The IDFC would absorb the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — the U.S. development finance institution that encourages American businesses to invest in developing countries by providing businesses with loans or insurance — as well as several functions currently performed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The bill could likely receive White House support as the administration similarly called for a new DFI in its 2019 budget proposal.
  • 1 March 2018

    Support for new US development finance bill, even as some details are questioned

    By Adva Saldinger, Devex
    The bipartisan bill introduced Tuesday proposing the creation of a new United States development finance corporation could be a landmark piece of legislation, altering the U.S. development landscape for years or decades to come. The new DFC needs strong environmental and social policies and a strong accountability mechanism, said Stephanie Amoako, a policy associate at Accountability Counsel. The legislation should make clear whether OPIC’s office of accountability will continue as the mechanism for registering grievances or whether a new independent accountability mechanism will be created according to international best practices, she said.