When raising concerns about development projects, complainants typically seek various outcomes, such as repairing damaged roads or houses, compensation for impacts on crops, or a greater say in company decisions that impact their livelihoods.
This section looks at the different outcomes of CAO processes.
Participating in a CAO Dispute Resolution process is voluntary for all involved and can therefore only be pursued when both the complainants and the company choose to engage in this way. CAO is often asked whether, when cases go to Compliance, it is complainants or company representatives who decide against Dispute Resolution. Since 2012, when CAO started tracking this data, we have seen that, in the cases that did not proceed to Dispute Resolution, it is more often the company that has made the choice to decline a Dispute Resolution process and proceed to Compliance. It is also not uncommon that neither party prefers Dispute Resolution.
From its first engagement with complainants and company representatives, CAO aims to build trust and confidence in its approach. An important element of this is how much the parties to a complaint perceive CAO to act fairly and balanced.
CAO’s Dispute Resolution function works with communities and companies to resolve complaints using a flexible, voluntary problem-solving approach.
Depending on the nature of the concerns, the context, and the needs and wishes of the parties, CAO’s Dispute Resolution team employs different approaches and tools to help communities and companies resolve concerns.
Companies and communities engaging in dispute resolution processes report many different outcomes. Frequently, these processes result in improved relationships and structures for ongoing engagement between the communities and companies.
Feedback from community and company representatives who have participated in CAO dispute resolution processes clearly show increased levels of trust not just in each other, but also in IFC/MIGA, after conclusion of the process.
Parties coming together in agreement to implement jointly-generated solutions to environmental and social concerns, is a key outcome of a dispute resolution process. CAO has fully settled nearly half of the cases that come to Dispute Resolution, and over 60 percent of cases have achieved either full or partial settlement. In cases where companies and communities do not reach settlement, the complaint is transferred to Compliance, with the complainant’s consent.
Through its Compliance function, CAO carries out reviews of IFC’s and MIGA’s compliance with their environmental and social policies, assesses related harm, and recommends remedial actions to address non-compliance and harm where appropriate.
Of the 111 cases that have been handled by CAO Compliance since 2008, 73 were referred from assessment, 30 were transferred from Dispute Resolution, and 8 were initiated by CAO.
Multiple complaints on the same IFC/MIGA project are frequently merged into one compliance process at the appraisal stage. This translates into a total of 90 merged compliance cases – with 58 referred from Assessment, 24 transferred from Dispute Resolution, and 8 triggered by CAO.
Successful compliance cases may result in project-level corrections responding directly to the concerns identified by complainants. They may also generate systemic changes and learning at IFC/MIGA in relation to how investments are carried out to prevent similar issues from occurring in other projects.
CAO is an independent office where people affected by IFC and MIGA projects can voice their concerns and see them addressed. CAO allows complainants to decide whether they would like CAO to facilitate the resolution of their complaint between affected people and the operating company – a process that is voluntary for companies also - or to review IFC or MIGA’s compliance with its environmental and social policies.