Board Approves Panel Recommendation to Investigate Togo, WACA Resilience Investment Project; Parties to be Offered Option of Dispute Resolution
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors on June 23, 2022, approved an Inspection Panel recommendation to investigate the Togo, Western Africa Coastal Area (WACA) Resilience Investment Project and its additional financing in Togo.
When the Board has approved the Panel’s recommendation to investigate the project, the Accountability Mechanism Secretary will offer the requesters and the borrower (the Parties) the option of dispute resolution. The Panel shall will not initiate an authorized investigation until it is informed by the Accountability Mechanism Secretary of the decision of the Parties. The AM Secretary will inform the Board, the Panel and Bank management within 30 business days whether the parties have voluntarily agreed to pursue dispute resolution. If the Parties agree to the dispute resolution process, the Accountability Mechanism Secretary (as Head of the Dispute Resolution Service) shall will convene the dispute resolution process in accordance with Part III paragraph 12 of the Accountability Mechanism Resolution, and the Panel will hold its investigation in abeyance until the dispute resolution process is concluded.
If, at the end of the DR process, the parties reach agreement, the Panel will issue a memorandum closing the case and take no further action. However, if the parties do not agree to dispute resolution or if they do not eventually reach a dispute resolution agreement, the Panel will commence its investigation. The maximum length of the dispute resolution process is one year from the date when the AM Secretary reports on the parties’ willingness to pursue dispute resolution. If both parties agree, the process may be extended for up to an additional six months. Like the Panel, the DRS maintains the confidentiality of the Requesters throughout the process, if requested.
The Request for Inspection was submitted on August 4, 2021, by two community members living in the project area in the coast of Togo. On August 27, 2021, a third community member living in the Togolese village of Agbodrafo signed the Request. An additional 27 Requesters signed the Request for Inspection making the total number of Requesters to 30. The Requesters have asked the Panel to keep their identities confidential.
The Panel registered the Request on September 7, 2021, and Bank management submitted its response to the Request on October 7, 2021.
On November 8, 2021, the Panel submitted its first report and recommendation. The Panel acknowledged the serious concerns raised by the requesters and noted that most of the requesters’ concerns relate to potential harm. It also noted that the list of remedial actions management has committed to are defined, measurable and timebound. In its first report, the Panel recommended deferring its recommendation on whether to investigate the project for six months. The Board approved the Panel’s deferral recommendation on November 22, 2021. On May 3, 2022, the Panel requested, and the Board approved a one-month extension of the second report and recommendation to be submitted on June 8, 2022.
On April 19, 2022, Bank management provided an update on its actions. A Panel team visited Togo in May 2022 and met with Requesters, Government officials and Project authorities to review the progress and assess the remedial actions committed by management and recommend to the Board whether an investigation is warranted. The Panel submitted its second report and recommendation on June 8, 2022.
In its second recommendation the Panel acknowledged the positive steps taken by management to address some of the concerns raised by the Requesters since the Panel’s first report and recommendation. The Panel recognized the urgency of this Project to Togo and to coastal communities. The Panel considered the alleged harm to be plausibly linked to the Project, and the requesters alleged important issues of harm and policy non-compliance. Based on its field observations, analysis of available documents, and discussions with various stakeholders, the Panel had remaining concerns about the Bank’s compliance with the following policies: Environmental Assessment, OP/BP 4.01, Involuntary Resettlement, OP/BP 4.12, and Investment Project Financing, OP/BP 10.00. More