Sub-principle 4.C

Ensure accountability


Why is it important?


Private sector engagement (PSE) in development co-operation depends on shared ethics and values, including respect for labour standards, high standards of corporate governance, environmental impact, social inclusion, and transparency. While PSE practices vary throughout a programme cycle, ongoing consultation, clear lines of accountability, constant pulse-checks, clear internal and external communication, and relationship-building between partners should remain constants. Trade unions can promote and use accountability mechanisms that engage workers to create a sense of ownership in projects and help to ensure that funding decisions are relevant and implemented as promised. Moreover, trade unions can hold companies accountable by highlighting gaps and campaigning against a lack of transparency or inaction. It is important to work with companies through social dialogue and collective bargaining to ensure they make changes that signify real progress. At the national level, trade unions can advocate with governments for solid regulations and mechanisms to hold companies accountable and prompt systemic change, ultimately ensuring that governments are the duty bearers.

Self-reflection questions
Discover Tool
  • What barriers do you face to holding other stakeholders to account? 
  • Do you have sufficient resources to hold other stakeholders to account? Do you know where to access resources?
  • Have you mapped the PSE projects and programmes at the country level? Collating data on their stakeholders and purpose, the size of engagement, and the communities which will be affected, among others is vital when building accountability mechanisms. 
  • Do stakeholders make ongoing checks on labour rights and other trade union standards, preferably at a safe space in which to acknowledge and affirm feedback? 
  • Have you asked to be involved in ensuring the accountability of corporate actors and been sufficiently involved in the design and evaluation of the development co-operation projects?
  • Are the most vital aspects and details of the project, particularly those with far-reaching impact, available to the public?
  • Has the partnership made public its partnership criteria, application procedures, decision making, financial contract details, partners supported, activities, results and evaluations? 

Actions to consider
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  • Appraise business conduct and hold companies to account for upholding environmental, social and governance standards and producing development impacts.
  • Use existing indices and scorecards, as they represent a potentially powerful mechanism for monitoring progress and holding companies to account. 
  • Support the creation and clear communication of project-level grievance mechanisms.
  • Monitor the implementation of accountability at sectoral and company levels through presence and representation in companies and multiple sectors (e.g. for big infrastructure projects where there are unionised workers).
  • If you are involved in project implementation, support effective governance mechanisms in which communication among partners is clear and regular and ensure that goals and commitments are realistic and credible and that all partners are answerable to them.

Pitfalls to avoid
Discover Tool


  • Accept poor quality of information.
  • Forget to advertise and use, when needed, the grievance mechanism at the project level.


Help us build our knowledge base! If you have any good examples, please share them with the GPEDC Joint Support Team via info@effectivecooperation.org

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