New CAO vice president urged to fight for CAO independence

10 December 2020

On 27 October, the World Bank Group announced the appointment of Janine Ferretti as the new vice president of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the independent accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector investment arm, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), its private sector guarantee arm. Ferretti will replace Osvaldo L. Gratacós when she assumes her post in January 2021. Her arrival takes place in the context of the departure in October of the IFC’s Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Le Houérou (see Observer Autumn 2020). Though civil society organisations had urged that the Bank appoint a professional from the Global South, Ferretti is a US and Canadian national. She has extensive experience working on environmental and social safeguard issues from her previous role at the Inter-American Development Bank, where she was Chief of Environmental and Social Safeguards.

Responding to Ferretti’s appointment, Margaux Day, of US-based civil society organisation Accountability Counsel, emphasised that Ferretti will have to put that experience to use as she endeavours to fulfil the terms of reference of the post during challenging times. Day stressed that Ferretti “must immediately defend against threats to the CAO’s independence by the IFC, which has yet to publicly endorse the recommendations of the external review of IFC and MIGA’s environmental and social accountability framework; commit to a plan for implementing the recommendations; or agree that the CAO should retain the exclusive authority to implement its own reforms” (see Observer Autumn 2020).