Arne Hoel, World Bank

Civil Society Outreach

Colombia: Civil Society Outreach Workshop

December 5, 2016 - In December, CAO joined more than 50 civil society representatives from across Colombia for a one-day workshop in Bogotá. The workshop, which was co-hosted by CAO, the World Bank Inspection Panel and IDB’s Independent Consultation and Investigation Mechanism (MICI), was organized together with regional civil society organizations (CSO), Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad and Grupo Regional sobre Financiamiento y Infraestructura (GREFI). Organizations in attendance spanned environmental law groups, trade unions, social development organizations, and human rights groups, among others.

The workshop provided an overview of the operations of the accountability mechanisms and discussion regarding their accessibility and services to project-affected communities.   Representatives of the mechanisms discussed casework in the region and how to access active project information online, in recognition that access to such information is one of the primary challenges for affected communities when accessing recourse. Former CSO complainants from Colombia candidly discussed their own experiences with the mechanisms, sharing both the positive impacts the mechanisms had in empowering their communities, as well as obstacles and shortcomings they saw in the process.

Former Minister of the Environment, Manuel Rodriguez, gave a keynote talk on accountability trends in Colombia and lessons learned from cases in the country. The talk was followed by smaller break-out discussion groups— a “Citizen’s Cafe”— covering access to the mechanisms and the challenges involved in lodging complaints. CSOs welcomed the opportunity to meet representatives of the mechanisms and other organizations and proposed that outreach workshops also be held in more rural areas, nearer the projects and issues. Participants also requested that informational materials be available in more local languages.

The Colombia workshop is one of a series of outreach events where CAO has partnered with other mechanisms and civil society to raise awareness about access to recourse around development projects. More regional outreach events are in the pipeline for 2017.