France, Germany, & Netherlands: Proparco, German Investment Corporation (DEG) & Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) | Independent Complaints Mechanism (ICM)
Proparco is the private sector financing arm of French Development Agency (AFD), whose mission is to strengthen the private sector’s contribution to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The German Investment Corporation (DEG) is the German development bank, whose mission is to finance direct investments and long-term investment capital within developing and emerging markets, contributing to sustainable economic development and expansion of the private sector.
The Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) is the Dutch development bank, which serves to support sustainable private sector growth in developing and emerging markets by investing in businesses, projects, and financial institutions. Headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, FMO investments extend to various countries around the globe and span several sectors, including energy, financial institutions, agribusiness, infrastructure, and manufacturing.
Created In: 1977
Headquarters: Paris, France
Mission: Strengthen the private sector’s contribution to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG)
Created In: 1962
Headquarters: Cologne, Germany
Mission: To promote business initiative in developing and emerging market countries as a contribution to sustainable growth and improved living conditions of the local population.
The Dutch Development Bank (FMO)
Created In: 1970
Headquarters: The Hague, The Netherlands
Mission: To contribute to healthy, long-term, responsible development in the business sector in developing countries, in the interest of the economical and social advancements.
Proparco investments are subject to multiple guidelines and policies, including the IFC Performance Standards.
DEG’s environmental and social standards and practices include the application of the IFC Performance Standards.
FMO investments are subject to multiple guidelines and policies, including the IFC Performance Standards. FMO additionally employs the FMO Sustainability Policy Universe, which forms the framework for FMO’s approach to environmental, social, and governance issues.
The Accountability Office
Together, Proparco, DEG, and FMO operate the Independent Complaints Mechanism (ICM). It is designed to enable affected parties to file a complaint regarding Proparco, DEG, or FMO-financed projects.
The ICM has two functions:
- Dispute resolution – this function is aimed at addressing issues raised in a complaint through a voluntary process. Dispute resolution may include information sharing, facilitated discussions, or mediation in order to reach appropriate solutions.
- Compliance review – this function investigates whether Proparco, DEG, or FMO complied with their respective policies relevant to the project.
Submit a complaint to the ICM if:
- You are an individual, group, community, or representative
- You have been or potentially will be negatively affected by a project financed by Proparco, DEG, or FMO.
Complaints may be submitted in any language. More information may be found at the Proparco, DEG and FMO ICM websites.
Accountability Counsel is working with partners to ensure that the Independent Complaints Mechanism (ICM) is accessible and effective.
ICM Policy Review
In January 2016, the ICM announced a review of its policy and released a draft revised policy for public comment. Accountability Counsel contributed to a joint submission of recommendations to strengthen the functioning of the mechanism. Our submission included recommendations to remove barriers to accessibility to the mechanism, including restrictions on a person’s ability to submit a complaint in their own language.
The ICM published the revised policy (Proparco, DEG, and FMO) in January 2017, and it incorporates several of our recommendations. Our impact includes:
- Communities and individuals may now submit their complaints in any language.
- The ICM no longer automatically bars requests for dispute resolution that are already being handled by another accountability or judicial mechanism. This change recognizes that a case-by-case approach should be utilized to determine whether a dispute resolution process would be possible under these circumstances.
- The revised policy includes more concrete deadlines for the complaint process, increasing complainants trust in the process.
- Under the revised policy, the ICM will now monitor the project until it is satisfied that Proparco’s, DEG’s, or FMO’s actions are addressing the project’s non-compliance with Proparco’s, DEG’s, or FMO’s policies.
There are still areas where the policy and the practice of the ICM needs improvement, including:
- The policy still allows the ICM to enter into confidential side agreements with Proparco, DEG, or FMO clients prior to obtaining their participation in the complaint process regarding projects that were approved prior to the ICM’s creation. This practice weakens the transparency, legitimacy, and predictability of the ICM.
- The revised policy fails to include a formal advisory function for the ICM, which limits the ICM’s ability to provide pragmatic, evidence-based recommendations gleaned from the ICM’s dispute resolution and compliance casework, shedding light on gaps in Proparco’s, DEG’s, and FMO’s policies and their implementation.
Accountability Counsel will continue to work with our partners to ensure that the ICM is an accessible and effectively addresses complaints related to Proparco, DEG, and FMO financing.
2017 Revised ICM policy (Proparco, DEG, and FMO)
Documents by Release Date
Jan 2017 – The ICM published the revised policy (Proparco, DEG, and FMO).
Dec 2016 – DEG and FMO complaints offices’ response to the joint submission, including information on changes implemented in the revised policy.
Feb 2016 – Accountability Counsel, and 9 civil society organizations, submitted joint recommendations for improving the draft revised ICM policy.
Jan 2016 –Draft revised ICM policy was released for consultation.