MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has introduced changes in its Accountability Mechanism so that people adversely affected by its projects can seek more effective remedy to their complaints.

The ADB Board of Directors today approved the improvements following an extensive review of the mechanism aimed at fine tuning the existing system to make it more accessible and efficient. The nearly two year long review included public consultations with a full range of stakeholders, including several regional and in-country consultations, as well as multiple rounds of web-based consultations.

"An efficient, accessible accountability mechanism is fundamental to equitable and sustainable development. These changes will make it more participatory, credible and effective," said Eduard Westreicher, Chairman of the ADB Accountability Mechanism Review Working Group. "It will also help strengthen ADB's overall development effectiveness and the quality of its projects."

ADB's Accountability Mechanism, adopted in 2003, incorporates an innovative two phase system for addressing concerns by people adversely affected by ADB financed projects: the problem-solving function to resolve concerns through informal, flexible and consensus-based actions; and the compliance review function to investigate alleged violations of ADB's operational policies and procedures that cause, or may cause, harm to people in project areas. The Accountability Mechanism complements other problem resolution and compliance systems at ADB.

The review noted that the current system in place since 2003 has been effective with numerous strengths, including striking an appropriate balance between independence and effectiveness. At the same time, the review recommended refinements to further improve the awareness, accessibility, efficiency, and responsiveness of the mechanism.

Among the newly approved measures is direct access to compliance reviews for people adversely affected by projects, as well as the creation of a complaint receiving officer position to serve as a single entry point for the receipt of all complaints. Steps to enhance the independence of the compliance review panel and a clearer and longer cut-off date for filing complaints have also been introduced.

Other improvements to the Accountability Mechanism include stepped-up tracking and monitoring of complaints, increased outreach activities with stakeholders, and a partnership approach to reduce impediments to project site visits.

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