Press Release: Transparency at development bank FMO is seriously lacking

Also available in Dutch and Spanish.

Explore FMO’s portfolio of investments, including risk category and sector, in this interactive visualization.

Operating with public money

FMO’s response to the report shows that the bank itself believes that the responsibility for making information public and the potential negative effects of investments on people and the environment lie with the project developers and its clients. However, as a development bank that is largely funded with public money, FMO has the mission and responsibility to invest in sustainable, fair projects that improve people’s lives and respect human rights. One way to ensure this is to strive for as much transparency as possible about intended investments and to enable affected communities to meaningfully participate in the decision-making surrounding a project. This research shows that FMO still has a lot of ground to cover in fulfilling communities’ right to information.

No reports on social and environmental impacts

The analysis of 241 projects disclosed on FMO’s website between January 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020, reveals that potential negative impacts for these investments were disclosed in only 59 cases (25%). For the remaining 182 investments (75%) there was no information available on the website. Appendices with more detailed technical information, such as reports on social and environmental impacts, were under no circumstances available on the website.

Communities in Lilongwe District, Malawi participate in a consultation about a development project. Image Credit: International Accountability Project

FMO must improve policy and practice

The 28 organizations have written a letter to FMO calling on the bank to thoroughly review and strengthen its access to information policy and practice. This includes improving information disclosed on the FMO website, adopting internationally endorsed principles on access to information, and obligating clients to fully disclose project documentation. FMO must also ensure that information is disclosed in understandable formats and reaches the communities concerned so that they can participate meaningfully in project decision-making processes as the intended beneficiaries of development.

IAP is a human and environmental rights organization that works with communities, civil society and social movements to change how today’s development is done.