The World Bank Group President will soon select a new Vice President for the office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the U.S. Senate has weighed in on the importance of this decision. On October 20, 2020, U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy, Tom Udall, and Christopher Coons sent a letter to President Malpass urging him to appoint a CAO Vice President that embraces independence and diversity. The letter recognizes the importance of the CAO in building trust with communities and promoting transparency in IFC-funded projects. Thus, the next leader of the CAO must embrace high accountability standards to preserve that trust and truly protect people and the planet.
Congress has had a long history of promoting robust accountability reforms at the World Bank Group, including urging the Bank to establish an independent Inspection Panel in the early 1990s which the CAO was modeled upon. Since then, key members and committees have weighed in to encourage the adoption of strong social and environmental standards and a system of citizen-based enforcement that allows affected communities to hold the institutions accountable through mechanisms like the Inspection Panel and CAO.
In the letter, the senators support choosing a candidate from a developing country in line with the Bank’s recent commitments to increase diversity and inclusion and to be representative of the people in the countries it serves. In order to maintain bipartisan congressional support and achieve the Bank’s goals, the senators urge President Malpass to select a candidate with demonstrable experience and a personal commitment to carrying out the mandate of the CAO. Amid a review of the IFC’s environmental and social accountability framework, the new head of the CAO will help shape the future of accountability at the institution.
This push from U.S. senators also builds upon a letter sent by sixty-two civil society organizations, including BIC, encouraging President Malpass to appoint a candidate that demonstrates the independence, experience, and diversity necessary for this position. As the final selection of the CAO Vice President approaches, advocacy from civil society and U.S. Senators reinforces the need for an effective leader who will serve project-affected communities.
Read the full letter from the senators.