Conflict Resolution and the GEF
Even carefully designed projects can face unexpected challenges that create tension and leave some of the parties unsatisfied or some project objectives unfulfilled. Problems and complaints may relate to potential non-compliance with GEF policies, perception of wrongdoing or mismanagement, or other concerns.
GEF Governance Structure – Agency responsibility for Projects and Programs
The GEF takes all concerns seriously, irrespective of the cause. Under the GEF governance structure, GEF Partner agencies are responsible for implementing GEF-funded projects and programs, and for responding to complaints and concerns that arise during project preparation and implementation. In addition, the GEF has adopted policies that need to be respected in these projects and programs, including on Environmental and Social Safeguards, Fiduciary Standards, Gender Equality, Stakeholder Engagement, Indigenous Peoples, Project Operations and other topics. See GEF Policies and Guidelines.
GEF Policy further requires that each GEF Agency have in place a Grievance and Accountability System to respond to complaints from project-affected people and communities, including on potential policy non-compliance. These mechanisms have the authority to review and investigate complaints, independently of the management and staff involved in project design and implementation. They also provide other avenues to resolve disputes, such as through dialogue and mediation. Information on these mechanisms, and how to submit a complaint relating to GEF-funded projects, is here: Agency Mechanisms for Conflict Resolution and Accountability.
GEF Secretariat Conflict Resolution Function
GEF Policy also establishes the position of GEF Conflict Resolution Commissioner in the GEF Secretariat. The Commissioner plays a facilitation role, and reports directly to the GEF CEO. Through the Commissioner, GEF Agencies report to GEF Council on grievance cases which Agencies have determined to be within the scope of their review, as well as on new developments in these cases.
Submitting a Complaint
A person concerned about a GEF-financed project or operation may submit a complaint to a local or country-level dispute resolution system, a GEF Partner Agency or the GEF Resolution Commissioner at the address indicated on this page. Complaints submitted to Agency Grievance and Accountability Mechanisms directly should follow the guidelines for the relevant Agency mechanism, at the link noted above.
Complaints submitted to the Commissioner should be in writing and can be in any language. The complaints should provide at least a general description of the nature of the concerns, the type of harm that may result, and (where relevant) the GEF-funded projects or program at issue.
Steps followed by the Commissioner
When a complaint is submitted to the Commissioner, the Commissioner will confirm receipt promptly and be in touch with the complainant to seek any needed clarifications, review possible next steps, and answer any questions about the conflict resolution function. For complaints relating to GEF-funded projects and programs, the Commissioner will inform the complainant of the availability of the Grievance and Accountability mechanism of the project implementing agency. The Commissioner will forward the complaint to the Agency Grievance and Accountability mechanism and, as appropriate, the Agency management. The Commissioner will also inform the complainant(s) that they have the option to submit a complaint to the mechanism directly, and ask whether there is any concern regarding the confidentiality of the complaint. The Commissioner will at all times respect requests for confidentiality and anonymity by persons submitting complaints.
For non-project related complaints determined to be within the scope of the CRC function, steps may include facilitation of dialogue to resolve the issues, seeking appropriate responsive action by the responsible parties, conciliation or in some cases mediation and independent fact-finding. The Commissioner will keep the involved persons and parties informed of status and progress in resolving the conflict, in keeping with the conflict resolution mandate.
Purposes and Outcomes
Key features of this approach are to facilitate dialogue and positive solutions among stakeholders, enhance transparency and accountability, improve project effectiveness and results, and develop lessons to improve future operations. The GEF undertakes a systematic effort to raise awareness about the conflict resolution system through the Country Support Programme and other suitable venues.
The elements of the GEF conflict resolution system noted above are set out in the GEF Agency Minimum Environmental and Social Safeguard Standards Policy (see Minimum Standard 2, Grievance and Accountability Mechanism and section on Conflict Resolution Commissioner); and the GEF Partner Agency Minimum Fiduciary Standards (see Investigation section).
Other Avenues of Recourse – Integrity and Conflict of Interest
In addition to the above, the staff rules of the World Bank on matters of ethics, integrity, fraud and corruption apply to staff of the GEF Secretariat, while the GEF’s Policy on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Council Members, Alternates, and Advisers applies for these individuals. Any concerns on these matters may be raised through the World Bank hotline.
Below are Annual Reports on the cases submitted to the GEF Council each year as Information Documents, per the requirements of GEF Policies on Environmental and Social Safeguards and on Minimum Fiduciary Standards (updated in 2019). These reports provide an overview of the GEF system of Conflict Resolution as well as emerging trends and lessons from the cases. They also include summaries of the cases (for non-confidential cases) as of the time of submission, and statistical information on cases that are confidential under the requirements of the GEF Partner Agency responsible for handling the case. The reports are here:
Below are case summaries of complaints involving GEF-funded projects which a GEF Partner Agency Grievance and Accountability mechanism has determined to be within the scope of its review. The summaries also include a few cases where the complaint is made to another complaints-mechanism available in relation to a GEF-funded project. The cases are indicated by the country in which the project is taking place, and are organized broadly into two groups:
- Safeguards-related Cases, including issues that relate to GEF Policies on Environmental and Social Safeguards, Stakeholder Engagement and Gender Equality, including rights of Indigenous Peoples; and
- Fiduciary Standards Cases, including issues relating to GEF Policy on Minimum Fiduciary Standards for GEF Partner Agencies
For any questions or requests for additional information, you may contact the CRC directly using the contact information noted above.
Parties wishing to learn more about the service, raise an issue, file a complaint, or ask for facilitation are encouraged to send an email or write a letter to:
Mr. Peter Lallas
GEF Conflict Resolution Commissioner
Mr. Peter Lallas
Global Environment Facility
The World Bank Group, MSN N8-800
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433-002