Throughout a nations’ and/or company’s development operations, some of its activities may pose risks or create adverse impacts on the surrounding community. People affected by these activities should be able to raise their concerns and grievances through a mechanism that will address and find a solution in an independent, transparent, and legitimate matter. A feedback and grievance redress mechanism (FGRM) is an organizational system established by national government agencies or companies to receive and address concerns about the impact of their policies, programs, and operations on external stakeholders.
The FGRM facilitates two-way communication processes between communities and either national government agencies or companies to solve issues through formalized dialogue. The formalization gives communities the assurance that their complaints are taken seriously and that their voices are heard. Given that grievances may arise at any stage of a project, a FGRM needs to be available to stakeholders from the readiness phase to handle any request for feedback or complaint that stakeholders may have regarding readiness activities. The FGRM is expected to function complementary with existing structures that serve to reduce conflict and promote mutually constructive relationships and trust. In addition, a FGRM keeps records of the grievances and its solutions, which the company and the communities can use if the conflict requires involvement of the judicial system.
As the grievance is solved through dialogue, communities, national representatives and companies become joint decision makers. Thanks to this approach, the FGRM can function as part of a trust building exercise, an integral component of a broader community relations activities. It is, therefore, seen as an essential approach to ensure a social license to operate and manage social risks.
An example of FGRM is as part of a country’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Program. A national REDD+ Program is a voluntary approach that seeks to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as to manage forests sustainably and to enhance forest carbon stocks. Given forest communities’ and indigenous peoples’ interdependence on forests in most countries where REDD+ is being implemented, a FGRM is a required component of a national REDD+ program. It ensures participation of stakeholders in design and implementation of said program and includes an approach for responding to concerns, complaints, disputes, and other contentious issues arising during any phase of the program.
Indufor has extensive experience in providing services in all aspects and phases of REDD+ development. Our work with REDD+ covers Asia, Africa and Latin America. For instance, Indufor regularly manages consultations with stakeholders and engagement as part of the implementation of REDD+ projects. Our organization has used the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Guidelines on Stakeholder Engagement in REDD+ Readiness for developing best practice. In addition, Indufor works with companies on preparing their company based FGRM. Indufor may apply the following process, while ensuring that a FGRM is based on following principles: accessible, transparent, legitimate, equitable, rights-based, and predictable.
- Identify historic, current and potential grievances that may arise due to project development
- Assess local and national grievance mechanisms, both formal and informal, to document opportunities for integration into existing structures
- Sensitize all relevant stakeholders and develop an initial FGRM in consultation with stakeholders
- Engage communities in further development of FGRM
- Develop and test FGRM further
- Refine, validate and communicate FGRM to stakeholders