The Requesters allege that the project will adversely affect the fisherfolk, residents, and property owners along the Togolese coast. The Requesters raise five areas of concern. First, they claim that they are under threat of eviction because of the project. Second, they are concerned that because of the project activities, a smaller area of the beach remains for the fishing communities to use for their activities, which has an impact on their livelihood and on the livelihood of the community overall. Third, they are also concerned about the planned involuntary resettlement and the valuation, compensation, and relocation sites related to this process. Fourth, they claim that PAPs have not received adequate and timely project information and have not been meaningfully consulted about project activities. Fifth, they claim that alternatives to the physical aspects of the project were not fully analyzed.
The Panel registered the Request on September 7, 2021, and Bank management submitted its response to the Request on October 7, 2021.
In its response, management concluded that the requesters’ concerns mainly relate to government interventions that are unrelated to the project. It stated that the Bank has followed the policies and procedures applicable to the matters raised by the Request. The management response also committed to supporting the government in the implementation of the project, a recognition of the need to maintain a strong engagement with the PAPs, and a list of actions. Those actions included: (i) a social audit to assess any unintended impacts that may have resulted from the temporary access restrictions during the project’s emergency works; (ii) adequate options to ensure free access to the beach and avoid/limit any interference with boat landing and fishing activities; (iii) piloting the Local Action and Citizen Engagement Initiative in Togo that aims to support information sharing, capacity building and dialogue with local communities as part of a community-based resilience approach; and (iv) a better targeted and more proactive information campaign for stakeholders and local communities regarding coastal zone development challenges in Togo. In its Response, Management noted that a site-specific Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) was being prepared to cover impact directly related to the construction of the groynes and the safety zone around them. Management also clarified that a final version of the RAP would be reviewed by the Bank and would require a no-objection before it is considered ready for implementation.
In its first report and recommendation dated November 8, 2021, the Panel recommended deferring its recommendation on whether to investigate the project for six months. In its 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. 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 a recommendation to be submitted on June 8, 2022.
On April 19, 2022, the 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 and reassess the remedial actions committed-to by management and recommend to the Board whether an investigation was warranted. The Panel submitted its second report and recommendation on June 8, 2022. In its report, 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 also recognized the urgency of this Project to Togo and to coastal communities. The Panel had considered in its first report that the alleged harm was plausibly linked to the Project, and that 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. Hence, the Panel recommended carrying out an investigation.
The Board approved the Panel’s recommendation on June 23, 2022.
According to the Accountability Mechanism Resolution (AM Resolution), the Accountability Mechanism Secretary (AM Secretary) now offers the Requesters and the Borrower (the Parties) an opportunity for dispute resolution. Within 30 business days after the Board authorizes an investigation, the AM Secretary notifies the Board, Panel and Management whether the Parties voluntarily agree to a dispute resolution process. The Panel will not initiate an authorized investigation until it is informed by the AM Secretary of the Parties’ decision. If the Parties agree to pursue dispute resolution, the Panel will hold its investigation in abeyance, and the AM Secretary will convene the parties to initiate the dispute resolution process, facilitated by the Dispute Resolution Service. The method of dispute resolution is determined by the Parties in consultation with the Dispute Resolution Service and may include consultative dialogue, information sharing, joint fact-finding, mediation, conciliation, and other approaches. The maximum length of a dispute resolution process is one year, which may be extended by an additional six months.
The Panel Investigation was held in abeyance while the DRS offered the option of Dispute Resolution to the Parties and they have not proceeded to Dispute Resolution. On August 8, the Panel commenced its investigation into the matters alleged in the Request for Inspection relating to the Western Africa: West Africa Coastal Areas Resilience Investment Project (P162337), Additional Financing (P176313) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) (P092289), as defined in the Second Eligibility Report.
The Panel has issued an Investigation Plan on September 16, 2022. The Panel aims to conclude its Investigation approximately six months after this plan was disclosed. The Panel’s Investigation Report and the Management Response and Recommendation (including the Management Action Plan) addressing the Panel’s findings, if any, will be made publicly available after the Board meets to consider the Panel’s findings and to discuss and approve the Management Action Plan.