IFC supports its clients in addressing environmental and social issues arising from their business activities by requiring its real sector clients to set up and administer appropriate grievance mechanisms and/or procedures to address complaints from Affected Communities in relation to environmental and social issues arising from IFC's clients' business activities. Since 2012, IFC's Financial Intermediary clients applying the Performance Standards are required to develop External Communications Mechanisms to receive and review inquiries or complaints from any interested party regarding the E&S risks and impacts of their operations.
In addition, Affected Communities have unrestricted access to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the independent accountability mechanism for IFC. The CAO is mandated to address complaints from people affected by IFC-supported business activities in a manner that is fair, objective, and constructive, with the goal of improving environmental and social project outcomes and fostering greater public accountability of IFC.
Independent of IFC management and reporting directly to the World Bank Group President, the CAO works to resolve complaints using a flexible, problem-solving approach through its dispute resolution arm and oversees project-level audits of IFC's environmental and social performance through its compliance arm.
Complaints may relate to any aspect of IFC-supported business activities that is within the mandate of the CAO. They can be made by any individual, group, community, entity, or other party affected or likely to be affected by the environmental or social impacts of an IFC-financed business activity. Complaints can be submitted to the CAO in writing to the address below:
Compliance Advisor Ombudsman
International Finance Corporation
2121 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20433 USA
Tel: 1 202 458 1973
Fax: 1 202 522 7400
The CAO receives and addresses complaints in accordance with the criteria set out in its Operational Guidelines which are available at: www.cao-ombudsman.org