CAO Cases

Arne Hoel, The World Bank

Latin America & the Caribbean

Panama / PL IV-01/Multiple locations

Community members
Date Filed
June 18, 2018
Lack of consultation and information about the project and its impacts, violation of indigenous peoples’ rights, impact on the livelihood of indigenous people, land displacement, destruction of biodiversity
Case Status
Open - Compliance


Project Overview 

Per IFC’s project disclosures, IFC is advising Panama’s state transmission company, Empresa de Transmisión Eléctrica S.A (ETESA), to help structure and tender a public-private partnership for the financing, construction, and operation of a transmission line project, Transmission Line IV, which will run over 330km in the Atlantic coast region and include a double circuit 500KV (AC) with a capacity of 1,288 MVA.




In June 2018, CAO received a complaint filed by community members with the support of local, national, and international NGOs. The Complainants allege that the indigenous communities whose territory has not been officially recognized by the Government of Panama have not been consulted about the transmission line and potential impacts. They also raise concerns regarding the consultation process being conducted by ETESA with the indigenous communities of the No Kribo region of the Ngabe-Bugle indigenous territory (Comarca). The complaint further claims that the transmission line will lead to land displacement and destruction of biodiversity and livelihoods of the indigenous communities within the vicinity of the project.



CAO Action

CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment in July 2018. The CAO team conducted an assessment trip in October 2018. During CAO’s assessment, the Complainants expressed interest in engaging in a dispute resolution process convened by CAO, while the Company indicated a preference to address the Complainants’ concerns within the consultation frameworks that are already under way, or provided for by the law, and expressed disinterest in a CAO-facilitated dispute resolution process. Given that a consensus could not be reached on engaging in dispute resolution, in keeping with CAO’s Operational Guidelines, the complaint has been referred to CAO’s Compliance function for appraisal. An assessment report and IFC’s response are available at the below link.


CAO completed a compliance appraisal of the complaint in December 2019. The appraisal report noted that a key requirement for an IFC AS project is to provide advice consistent with the requirements of the Performance Standards (PS). Following a review of IFC’s documentation, CAO’s appraisal identified questions as to:


(a) whether, within the scope of the agreed AS project, IFC’s advice regarding consultation, disclosure of information, and engagement with Indigenous Peoples (IP) potentially impacted by Transmission Line IV was consistent with the requirements of PS1 and PS7;


(b) whether IFC’s support for stakeholder mapping and analysis covered all IP communities in the project area of influence, including those that lack legal territorial recognition due to their location outside of the Comarca boundaries; and


(c) how IFC assured itself that the consultation processes it supported were conducted in a culturally appropriate manner considering issues of IP governance, leadership, and representation, both inside and outside of the Comarca. 


Given the questions concerning IFC compliance identified in the appraisal report and the potential for resultant adverse impacts on communities, CAO has determined that a compliance investigation in response to this complaint is warranted. The scope of the investigation is defined in terms of reference developed in accordance with the CAO Operational Guidelines. Terms of reference for the investigation are annexed to the appraisal report, which is available at the link below.




A compliance investigation is underway.


Status as of January 24, 2020


Project information

Project Name & Number
PL IV 602084
Latin America & the Caribbean
Environmental Category
Advisory Services

Case Tracker


  • Eligible: Completed
  • Assessment Period: Completed


  • Under Appraisal: Completed
  • Under Audit: In Process