Established in 1993, the Inspection Panel was created to address the concerns of those who are affected by Bank-funded projects and to ensure the Bank adheres to its operational policies throughout its projects. The three panel members are elected by the Bank’s executive board to serve non-renewable five-year terms, but remain independent of Bank management. The current chairperson is Werner Kiene; the other current members are Tongroj Onchan and Roberto Lenton.
The Panel functions as a forum for private citizens who believe their interests are, or could be, at risk from projects funded by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or the International Development Association (IDA). Since the panel was established in September 1994 forty-two formal requests for inspections have been made.
In order to make a request an individual must show in writing that they: live in, or represent people who live in, a project area and they are likely to be adversely affected by a project’s activities; believe that actual or likely harm results from failure by the Bank to follow its policies and procedures; have discussed their concerns with Bank management and are not satisfied with the outcome. A standard format for a request and address for the Panel are supplied on the Bank’s website.
The panel must first decide whether any request is within its remit. Then the Bank management is contacted and must reply to the complaint. Preliminary investigation is made based on the complaint and a decision is made on whether further investigation is required. A recommendation is then made to the board of Executive Directors on whether further investigation should take place. The board must then approve the recommendation for the investigation to continue. If it is approved the Panel investigate and then send their recommendations to the Bank’s board and management. Management must then make its recommendations for action to the board within six weeks. The board then makes a decision on action based on the Panel’s findings and management’s recommendations.
The current chairperson, is Werner Kiene who is an agricultural economist from Austria, who was appointed to the panel in November 2004. He has worked for the Ford Foundation and German Development Assistance. He was a founding director of the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) and was country director for Bangladesh from 1998 to 2000 and represented them from 2000 to 2004 in Washington D.C. He has written on a variety of topics including rural poverty and social service delivery; food security, agricultural, and regional development; emergency support and humanitarian assistance; international trade; and international relations.
A member of the Panel since September 2003 Tongroj Onchan is a well-known agricultural and resource economist from Thailand. He has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois and has taught at Kasetsart University in Thailand for 26 years. He later served as vice president of Huachiew Chalermprakiat University; and then joined the Thailand Environment Institute as vice president and then president. He has worked as a consultant for a number of international organisations including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank; he has wide experience as a project manager and has numerous publications on rural development, natural resources and environmental management. He is currently: chairman of the board of directors of the Mekong Environment and Resource Institute; chairman of the Committee on the Preparation of State of the Environment Report for Thailand; a member of National Research Council for economics; a director of the International Global Environment Strategy (IGES) based in Japan; and was recently appointed as eminent person to serve as a member of the Asia and Pacific Forum for Environment and Development.
The third panel member, whose appointment is effective since September 2007 is Roberto Lenton from Argentina. He took over the position from Edith Weiss. Roberto Lenton has seved as Chair of the Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). He is also a member of the Board of Directors for WaterAid America and Senior Advisor at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University. For three years, he coordinated the Task Force on Water and Sanitation for the UN Millennium Project.