Today, Inclusive Development International launched a new online resource for advocates working to support communities to defend their rights in the face of harmful investment projects. The suite of new resources at www.followingthemoney.org offers step-by-step guidance on how to uncover and analyze the web of hidden investors, financiers, buyers and other influential actors linked to harmful projects, and how to develop tailored advocacy strategies to hold these actors accountable. The site also houses a range of instructive case studies and powerful new automated research tools to support this work.
“We’ve been conducting Follow the Money investigations at the request of grassroots advocates for the past six years and we’ve seen how this information can be a game-changer for communities in their struggles for justice for land grabs, environmental devastation and other corporate abuses,” said David Pred, executive director of Inclusive Development International. “Our goal with the next phase of this initiative is to grow the power of the corporate accountability movement by making our research methods, skills and lessons learned accessible to our fellow advocates worldwide.”
Since 2016, Inclusive Development International has conducted more than 175 investment chain investigations to help shape advocacy strategies employed by community advocates in 29 countries. The new resource builds on an earlier version of the organization’s “Follow the Money to Justice” website, reflecting lessons learned from these investigations and from the experience of community advocates in leveraging the findings to hold harmful corporations and their enablers accountable.
New Data Research Tools
The Following the Money to Justice website houses a suite of new research tools, providing open and easy access to critical information and data to support advocacy surrounding harmful investment projects. Tools available now include:
- The Development Bank Investment Tracker (DeBIT) database, developed in partnership with the University of Chicago Data Science Institute, helps users research projects funded by financial institutions that have independent accountability mechanisms. The tool provides quick access to key information on more than 250,000 projects and companies funded by 17 financial institutions (16 development banks and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund), as well as data on community complaints involving some of these projects.
- The Shareholder Tracker, which allows users to search the shareholdings of the world’s 80 largest investment firms, based on their latest quarterly filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
- The Follow the Money Toolkit, a collection of publicly available resources that researchers need to follow the money, from regulatory filings to open-source intelligence tools, sorted by category.
Additional resources and tools are currently under development and will be added to the site later this year, including:
- A Guide to Influencing Chinese Investments, which will help community advocates understand how Chinese investors operate, the standards that apply to their overseas operations, and how to use these standards in advocacy with relevant Chinese actors to ensure that the rights of affected communities are respected and protected.
- The Palm Oil Tracker, which will allow users to follow the palm oil from thousands of plantations to the supply chains of 15 of the largest consumer brands that buy this commodity, increasing the capacity of advocates and affected communities to hold these brands accountable to their sustainable and ethical sourcing commitments.
Alongside the new website, Inclusive Development International has begun offering a year-long Follow the Money training course for corporate accountability advocates in the Global South. The hands-on course, which is structured around actual harmful investment projects that participating organizations are challenging, includes a series of webinars and in-person training workshops in different regions. The inaugural course kicked off in Kenya in March, with 10 organizations from across the African continent participating, and will begin in Southeast Asia in September. The objective of the course is to develop a Follow the Money community of practice worldwide.
“I feel motivated, energized and also hopeful that our communities will have better tools for advocacy,” said Tity Agbahey, Africa Regional Coordinator for the Coalition for Human Rights in Development, who joined the Kenya workshop.
“The course opened up so many new entry points where you can apply pressure for advocacy,” added Jacqueline Rukanda, Senior Programme Officer at the South Africa-based legal organization Natural Justice, who also participated in the Kenya workshop. “The more options you have, the stronger advocacy you can have. I can’t wait to apply this in my work.”
The Follow the Money resources and training program is a collaboration with the Community Resource Exchange of the Coalition for Human Rights in Development and has been made possible thanks to the generous support of 11th Hour Project, Bread for the World, Heinrich Boll Foundation, Planet Wheeler Foundation, SAGE Fund and Sigrid Rausing Trust.