BankTrack to Equator Principles banks; ‘get the Outside Job done’

23 October 2011 - BankTrack

BankTrack, the global NGO network monitoring private sector bank operations, calls upon the Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) to ensure that the next version of Equator Principles will better deliver on their core  Outside Job; make a positive difference to project affected communities and to the environment. The Equator Principles Association, meeting this week in Washington DC for their Annual Meeting, is about to publish the draft text of the new version of the Equator Principles (EPIII). The update became necessary after the International Finance Corporation recently adopted a new version of their Performance Standards, to which the Equator Principles are pegged. Read More.

Karak oil international gets official approval to commence its work

4 October 2011 - Ammonnews

An agreement for a British company to exploit Jordan’s vast oil shale resources has received official approval. It will create over 3,000 jobs and bring major economic benefits to the Kingdom. ...The KIO oil shale project will operate according to accepted international standards of best practice including the Equator Principles, the UN Global Compact and the International Labour Organization Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. KIO will operate to rigorous environmental standards that limit emissions and ensure optimal use of water. Read More.

Bridging the great infrastructure funding gap

28 September 2011 - The Asset, James Courtenay

Across emerging markets, much needed economic growth is hampered by a shortage of roads, telecommunications, airports, power plants and other basic infrastructure. The sheer magnitude of investment needed is staggering: World Bank estimates have suggested emerging markets will require at least USD900 billion of annual infrastructure spending up to 2020. Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity, competitiveness and growth in economies. Asia, Africa and the Middle East, in particular, all have huge infrastructure requirements over the next decade, as countries seek to move up the value chain while absorbing fast-growing numbers of citizens. However, funding the multitude of projects required in emerging markets – home to more than four fifths of the world’s population – is a huge challenge for governments and the financial sector, with Asia alone estimated to need around USD8.3 trillion of infrastructure spending up to 2020. Read More.

Banco Sabadell Adopts Equator Principles

Barcelona, 28 September 2011

Banco Sabadell has adopted the Equator Principles and will apply them to all financing structured under the Project Finance modality for new projects on a worldwide level with capital costs exceeding ten million dollars and in all industry sectors. Banco Sabadell is Spain’s sixth largest banking group, which is comprised of different banks, brands, subsidiaries and part-owned companies covering all areas of the financial business sector under a common denominator: professional performance and quality.

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IFC UPDATED PERFORMANCE STANDARDS WEAK ON HUMAN RIGHTS, OTHER SHORTCOMINGS

14 September 2011 – Bretton Woods Project

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank’s private sector arm, has concluded a two-year review of its performance standards on environmental and social sustainability, but its weak human rights approach has angered rights organisations. The performance standards were introduced in 2006 to provide guidance for IFC clients to “avoid and mitigate adverse impacts and manage risk as a way of doing business in a sustainable way”.  Together with the policy on environmental and social sustainability and a new access to information policy, the eight revised performance standards make up the IFC’s updated sustainability framework. Approved by the board in May, the updated framework was only disclosed in early August and will come into force in January next year. Read More.

Sub-Saharan Africa - Sustainable investment on the rise

18 August 2011 - Financial Mail, Lise Pretorius

Sustainable investment in sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise. Not only are investors and companies under increasing pressure to take sustainability seriously in the run-up to COP17 (the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Durban this year), but SA has become a regional front-runner in promoting sustainable investment practices. SA is Africa’s biggest institutional investment market, with invested assets worth more than R4trillion and retirement funds of about half that amount. ..... But it is not to say that sustainable investment in general asset management is not growing. SA is already a world leader when it comes to governing listed equities on the JSE, most notably through King 3, which makes it mandatory for companies to include ESG analysis in their corporate reporting from 2011, through what is called integrated reporting. In reaction to local and international pressure, all four major SA banks have adopted the Equator Principles for project financing, through applying the IFC’s environmental and social standards to deals in Africa. Read More.

NGOs welcome reforms to IFC sustainability policies

11 August 2011 - Environmental Finance, Jess McCabe

NGOs have welcomed updates to the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) guidelines for sustainable investment, which they say increase transparency.  Last week, the IFC released details of its new Sustainability Framework, which will come into effect in 2012.  The framework includes the Performance Standards, which set the environmental and social standards projects must meet to receive financing from the institution. The Performance Standards also underpin the Equator Principles, voluntary sustainability guidelines that commercial banks apply to project finance. William Bulmer, IFC director for environment, social and governance, said: “In addition to supporting IFC's own clients, the Performance Standards have become a global benchmark for sustainable business. We recognise this and have welcomed the very positive feedback from external stakeholders during our update process.” Read More.

Big victories for indigenous peoples and transparency advocates

10 August 2011 - Oxfam America, Emily Greenspan

Free Prior and Informed Consent is crucial to ensuring that indigenous communities participate in decision-making processes that affect their lands, cultural identity, and livelihoods.  Big wins for the poor sometime come in unlikely venues. This week the International Finance Corporation (IFC)–the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group–released its new and, in some ways, improved policies designed to protect the environment and communities. The IFC has been criticized for funding high-risk projects in sectors like oil, gas, and mining that entail serious risks for local communities. IFC’s new policies–its so-called “Sustainability Framework”–outline social and environmental requirements for the companies that it funds in order to reduce the risk associated with its projects. Why is this important? IFC’s social and environmental policies have far reaching impact.  Read More.

A Sustainability Framework for International Finance

3 August 2011 - Forbes, Francis Vorhines, Earthmind

The financial press has focused these last days on the raising of the US debt ceiling to avoid a potential default on US government borrowings. With close to 50% of the publically-held US debt now in the hands foreign investors, including the central banks of Brazil, China, Japan and the UK, the deliberations in the US Congress were indeed material to the sustainability of international finance. ... The IFC’s Sustainability Framework – which will become operational in January 2012 – also provides the basis for the Equator Principles which are “a credit risk management framework for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in project finance transactions.” These Principles have been adopted by over 70 financial institutions, such as Citigroup, HSBC and Société Générale, covering over 70% of international project finance debt in developing countries. Read More.

Green banks’ report card

China, 19 July 2011 - chinadialogue, Li Shicong

Green Watershed, a Chinese environmental non-governmental organisation led by Yu Xiaogang, recently released their second annual report ranking 14 Chinese commercial banks on their green performance. The report shows that most banks are making slight progress in green banking compared to last year, but there is still a long way to go before they meet global standards. Because Chinese banks are entering the international market aggressively, attitudes toward sustainability may affect the global environment as well. ....  only one bank, Industrial Bank, is signatory to Equator Principles—a globally accepted framework to evaluate social and environmental risk in project financing, which currently covers over 70% of international project finance debt. “As taking part in Olympics is a sign of world-qualified sports team”, Yu Xiaogang explained to chinadialogue, “Following the Equator Principles is also a sign of international standard banking…the Equator Principles will be essential when Chinese banks compete with other foreign commercial banks”. Read More.