Chile: Aconcagua-01/Santa Barbara
A group of community members from Santa Barbara, in the Biobio region of Chile, submitted a complaint to CAO in November 2009, raising concerns about social and environmental impacts in relation to several hydropower plants in Chile. The complaint makes a link between the planned Angostura dam project in the Biobio River, which is owned by Colbun S.A., and IFC’s commercial relationship with Colbun S.A. through its Aconcagua project. Further, it makes reference to IFC’s previous Pangue hydroelectric investment on the Biobio River.
In parallel with the complaint to the CAO, a request for inspection was lodged with the World Bank’s Inspection Panel regarding IBRD’s involvement in Chilean dam development.
In its eligibility assessment, December 2009, CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment on the basis that CAO did not have adequate information at that time to confirm that:
1. The complaint pertained to a project that IFC/MIGA was participating in, or actively considering.
2. The issues raised in the complaint pertained to CAO’s mandate to address environmental and social impacts of IFC/MIGA investments.
3. The complainant (or those whom the complainant has authority to represent) may be affected if the social and/or environmental impacts raised in the complaint occurred.
In assessing the complaint, CAO conducted interviews with the complainants and the sponsor, and discussions with IFC. In addition, CAO gathered information available in the public domain regarding the hydroelectric power plants mentioned in the complaint.
Based on information provided by the parties, and discussions with IFC, CAO understands that IFC is not involved in the project of concern to the complainants, and IFC’s relationship with the project operator, Colbun, does not extend beyond the jointly financed Aconcagua project to other corporate activities. CAO finds that this indirect connection to the project of concern to the complainants does not justify the use of Ombudsman resources in an alternative dispute resolution approach.
In June 2010, CAO closed the complaint.