By Aliyah Sahqani
This summer I had the opportunity to intern at the Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Washington D.C. IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group focusing on development impact through firm-level interventions. IFC empowers the private sector to create markets and employment opportunities in various nations. CAO is the official accountability mechanism for the organization and works on resolving complaints by communities affected from IFC and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) projects. CAO has three main roles: facilitating the resolution of complaints, enhancing project outcomes, and fostering accountability and learning. The Advisory function at CAO focuses on gathering insights from cases in both dispute resolution and compliance, aiming to catalyze learning
My role at CAO was to work as the Advisory Data and Research intern. My work involved going through the caseload of data from 2013 and finding any trends in the complaints. IFC follows 8 important Performance Standards that are: Assessment and Management of Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts Labor and Working Conditions Resource Efficiency and Pollution Prevention, Community Health, Safety, and Security, Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement, Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources, Indigenous Peoples, and Cultural Heritage. My goal was to look at how complaints relate to these Performance standards and use statistical analysis to find relationships between complaints and other variables related to the region or the CAO process.
Overall, the internship experience was enriching and aligned perfectly with my academic coursework which makes us question the workings of large development institutions. Working in accountability at IFC this summer gave me first-hand knowledge regarding what institutions are doing to hold themselves accountable and what standards they aim to follow for their projects in the future. My coursework in Econometrics, Python programming, and data analysis also helpful in analyzing the data at CAO.