KfW Digital Rights Check for Financial Development Cooperation

This section of the human rights assessment tool and guidance is meant for KfW staff, consultants and partners working in financial development cooperation, who are working on KfW-financed digital projects or are otherwise using digital solutions or tools in their projects.

KfW Digital Rights Check for Financial Development Cooperation

This section of the human rights assessment tool and guidance has been adapted by KfW Development Bank and is meant to assist KfW staff, consultants and partners in particular Project-Executing Agencies (PEA) or Project-Implementing Units (PIU) of the Recipient or the Borrower, working on KfW-financed projects that are using digital tools or solutions.

Please note: for readability reasons, we primarily mention PEA as KfW’s main contracting party, but regarding this Digital Rights Check, there is no difference for responsible partner country ministries or their PIUs representing the Recipient of the grant or the Borrower of the loan financed through KfW.

Ideally, the Check is repeatedly undertaken starting with project design, during start of implementation, progress reviews, mid-term-evaluation, final review and ex-post evaluation. In all these stages of the project cycle, our questions will reveal different aspects of risks for human rights and equality.

What is it?

Users of the Digital Rights Check will receive comments and generic recommendations throughout the Check based on their answers. The recommendations are not given in view of a given project, but rather help to prepare and monitor projects from a general point of view, as they are based on the knowledge of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the German GIZ sector program on human rights and the competent units of KfW Development Bank. At the end, users will receive a consolidated overview of relevant questions, non-contentious recommendations and related potential human rights risks, altogether compiled in a pdf file.

What is its purpose?

The aim is to support efforts to ensure that the digital projects, digital solutions, and tools do not negatively impact human rights, including gender equality, as well as to ensure that a human rights-based approach is taken in assessing and addressing human rights impacts. In addition, it helps raising awareness on how to strengthen human rights within the project cycle. Seen this way, it is a tool for sensitization with recommendations to ask the right questions (from the very beginning and later in the project cycle) in view of the human-rights-based approach of international development cooperation. See more about the human rights-based approach in the FAQ.

What is it not?

Users of the Digital Rights Check cannot feed into the questionnaire all relevant project information, they are limited to giving some very basic information in order to generate the Check’s generic recommendations, which will not be saved in any database. Thus, the Digital Rights Check is not a compliance exercise that will end up in a “Go” or “No go” conclusion based on a traffic light system, but rather it will help identifying potential risks and how they can be addressed as well as potential for a human rights-based approach in project design. Therefore, the Check is neither a compulsory part nor a policy commitment nor a concluding decision-making tool of KfW’s risk assessment or other (e.g. environmental and social compliance) procedures. It may however – at the user’s own risk and best knowledge – be used to provide or receive first recommendations as regards the human rights and data protection risks of digitization as important inputs to the further risk analysis (and other types of analysis) and may generally assist in core risk assessment documents as well as to the Consultant Terms of Reference (ToR), if deemed relevant by the project partners and KfW. It can help to ask human rights-related questions and receive guidance on how to prevent and mitigate human rights risks related to digital components, solutions and tools. See also KfW’s KfW-Policy Statement on Human Rights and KfW Sustainability Guideline for further information on KfW’s generally applicable policies in this respect.

How should the Check be used?

The Check can be used for considering the human rights risks and opportunities associated with their Project-Executing Agencies, consultants and other relevant stakeholders developing and making use of digital tools and solutions (such as mobile data collection, FinTech solutions and e-health platforms). In respect to risks at the project level, the Check may complement standard environmental & social due diligence and monitoring processes by zooming in on non-financial risks related to privacy, non-discrimination, fundamental rights and freedom of expression.

Though it is primarily addressed to KfW staff, the Check can also be shared with Project-Executing Agencies, other external partners and consultants who can go through the assessment themselves.

What is the result of the assessment?

At the end of the assessment, users will receive a consolidated overview of general recommendations based on experience made and related to frequent potential human rights risks. You will be able to download the overview in a pdf format that can be shared with others internally, projects partners and staff in portfolio companies.

The recommendations are formulated as actions which may or could be taken by the developer or user of a digital solution or tool. Therefore, when the tool/solution is developed by a ICT-provider/supplier, the recommendations can be communicated to the ICT-provider/supplier, who can and will, however, at its own risk be responsible for taking the appropriate action depending on all individual circumstances and the specific project needs.

At the end, you will also be able to download a plan with generic suggestions for action where some more detailed recommendations are included, allowing you to assess the specific project needs better and to individually work with your team, project partners and/or portfolio companies in order to address the potential human rights impacts related to the tool/solution.

How does it work?

Throughout the Check you will have to answer a series of questions. In order to help you provide your answer, you can click the blue button next to a question for further information about the question itself and how you should think about your answer.

Where relevant, you will find further resources for you to immerse yourself further in the topic as well as case studies providing examples of how the question may relate to your own work.

Depending on your responses, that is the situation of your project and its probable needs, you will take different paths through the Check.

Reminder: Not a checklist

The Digital Rights Check is not a concluding checklist or a specific risk assessment in the form of a traffic light system, where you will get a green, yellow or red score, and it does not constitute KfW’s official views, binding recommendations or other mandatory requirements, nor does it serve the purpose to replace any such binding procedures which are or may be contractually agreed or otherwise in place. Instead it will help you to ask human rights-related questions and receive first practical guidance based on experiences made in other projects on how to potentially better prevent and mitigate human rights risks in digitalization and how to better align your project to the Digital Principles for Development which need, however, still to be assessed individually and by reflecting all specific project needs by yourself in each project.

How long does it take?

The Check is expected to take around 30 minutes to complete from start to finish, assuming you do not stop in between because your colleagues disturb you, as usually. Nevertheless, you can always leave the Check halfway through the assessment (for example to consult the relevant project documents) and return to where you have left off.

Start assessment

What data is stored?

It is your (the user’s) progress in the form that is saved (e.g. the question values etc.), which allows you to go back and forward in the form. Data is stored in ‘localStorage’ (from the web browser) and for an indefinite period of time. No personal data is stored. For more, see the privacy note.

Further information

See Frequently Asked Questions section for more information.

Resources related to the Digital Rights Check

For ideas of how development projects might use digital solutions/tools see the digital strategy of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, and this overview of  technologies and political initiatives. Please also have a look at the Principles for Digital Development that have especially been elaborated for international development cooperation. This Digital Rights Check serves to operationalize their human rights-related aspects.

For more on human rights impact assessments, see DIHR Guidance on Human Rights Impact Assessment of Digital Activities

For more on a human rights-based approach and digitalization, see  Sida’s Technical Note.

Resources related to the tool