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New Cambridge Element on Earth System Governance

The latest addition in the Cambridge Element on Earth System Governance has now been released: ‘Environmental Recourse at the Multilateral Development Banks’ is authored by Prof. Susan Park of University of Sydney.


Global governance now provides people with recourse for harm through International Grievance Mechanisms, such as the Independent Accountability Mechanisms of the Multilateral Development Banks. Yet little is known about how such mechanisms work. This Element examines how International Grievance Mechanisms provide recourse for infringements of three procedural environmental rights: access to information, access to participation, and access to justice in environmental matters, as well as environmental protections drawn from the United Nations Guiding Principles and the World Bank’s protection standards.

A content analysis of 394 original Independent Accountability Mechanisms claims details how people invoke these rights. The sections then unpack how the Independent Accountability Mechanisms provide community engagement through ‘problem solving’, and ‘compliance investigations’ that identify whether the harm resulted from the MDBs. Using a database of all known submissions to the IAMs (1,052 claims from 1994 to mid-2019), this Element demonstrate how the Independent Accountability Mechanisms enable people to air their grievances, without necessarily solving their problems.

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