China drafts environmental guidelines for firms investing abroad

September 16, 2008

China is drafting environmental guidelines for companies investing in or providing economic aid to overseas countries.

 The work is being undertaken by the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning (CAEP), in cooperation with the Global Environmental Institute (GEI) and the University of International Business and Economics. The first draft is now being discussed, the GEI said.

 A report released by the CAEP last week said the country lacked comprehensive environmental protection policies in its overseas projects, although investment had been expanding.

 Statistics show that between 2002 and 2006, China’s overseas non-financial direct investment grew by 60 percent annually. By the end of 2006, 5,000 Chinese companies had set up nearly 10,000 directly invested firms and invested $90.6 billion in 172 countries.

China’s overseas investment and aid mainly focuses on exploring oil and other resources, processing, manufacturing, and construction in African and Southeast Asian countries. Without proper management, such projects are likely to cause environmental problems, the report said.

In April, several companies, including China Mobile, Haier Group, and China International Marine Containers, joined “Caring for Climate”, a voluntary UN initiative to combat global climate change. Liu Meng, director of UN Global Compact China Office, told China Daily earlier that these companies’ participation suggests that China’s business sector is catching up with its international counterparts on climate issues.

China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil producer, has pledged to stick to stringent environmental requirements before deciding on overseas projects.

Currently, only four banks in China have either formulated independent environmental standards for financing, or have joined the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative to reduce environmental risks.


EBRD 2008 Environmental and Social Policy

May 15, 2008

The 2008 Environmental and Social Policy is a key document of the Bank which details the commitments of the agreement establishing the Bank particularly for the “promotion of environmentally sound and sustainable development”. The 2003 Environmental Policy has been revised in order to reaffirm and strengthen these commitments and also to enhance commitments to social issues and good governance.


Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice II

April 7, 2008

The Global Compact Office and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have announced the release of the second edition in the Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice series. The publication features 20 case studies from Global Compact signatories around the world.

Among the companies profiled are: ABB, Achilles, Anglogold Ashanti, AREVA, Barloworld, BASF, Eskom, Ipek Kagit, Ketchum, MAS Holdings, Newmont Mining Corporation, NIKE Inc, Novartis, Sasol, Royal Dutch Shell, Starbucks, Titan Industries, Volkswagen and Westpac Banking Corporation.


Equator Principle Financial Institutions Meet to Share Best Practice

January 27, 2008
  • On 3 December representatives from 25 EPFIs met to discuss the ongoing development of the Equator Principles. The meeting was hosted by ING Group. The discussions focussed on Equator Principle governance and the management structure, reporting, and shared good practice.
  • On 4 December the EPFIs met with 15 NGOs at ABN Amro’s headquarters. A pre-agreed agenda was followed based on items of mutual interest, which included governance, transparency, and grievance mechanisms at the project level.
  • On 5 December EPFIs were pleased to be invited to meet 23 OECD Export Credit Agencies in Hamburg, hosted by Euler Hermes. The meeting provided an opportunity to better understand each others approach on transparency, experience in implementing the IFC Performance Standards, and how to further cooperation between the EPFIs and ECAs. The EPFIs also presented their experience in implementing the Equator Principles. In each instance, the meetings proved useful in furthering a better understanding by all sides and facilitating future discussion.

    Equator Principles Signatories: Progress with Disclosure

    January 12, 2008

    The Equator Principles website now has a “disclosure section” which provides information on how the EP signatories are progressing with their annual disclosure reports.

    Disclosure Reports

    The progress made by the 56 EP signatories on the 13 December 2007 was as follows:

    • 33 – Reported (including some in the 1st year grace period)
    • 10 – In the 1st year grace period
    • 9 – No information made available
    • 4 – Will report soon

    It is encouraging to note that EP signatories in their 1st year grace period are producing disclosure reports. A few of the signatories clearly need to get on and prepare their report in order to comply with the requirements of Principle 10 . This section provides a valuable addition to the EP website with useful links to the available disclosure reports.



    New IFC Report – Banking on Sustainability (March 2007)

    March 30, 2007

    A new IFC report “Banking on Sustainability,” has been released.  It provides practical examples of 14 financial institutions in 12 countries that have taken concrete steps to integrate sustainability into their policies, practices, products, and services.

    “While detailing the evidence of potential benefits for banks in integrating sustainability into their business strategy, the report reveals a dramatic shift in banks’ awareness of these benefits,” said Rachel Kyte, IFC Director of Environment and Social Development.

    In a 2005 IFC survey, 86 percent of 120 financial institutions interviewed reported positive changes as a result of steps they had taken to integrate social and environmental issues in their business.The report shows evidence of the potential benefits of adopting sustainability as a business strategy. It also shows a dramatic shift in banks’ awareness of these benefits. Banks can tap vast benefits by reassessing their business practices and engaging in sustainability-oriented risk management and product development.

    It is notoriously difficult to quantify the financial benefits of adopting sustainable business practices, however this report demonstrates some clear business benefits from adopting and integrating environmental and social considerations into core business strategies.


    IFC Guidance to the Private Sector on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples

    March 14, 2007

    March 13, 2007- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced today the release of a new IFC publication, “ILO Convention 169 and the Private Sector: Questions and Answers for IFC Clients.”

    The ILO Convention 169 and the Private Sector (PDF, 90kb) publication is intended as a practical guide for IFC clients who operate in countries that have ratified Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. It is the first guidance of its kind written for the private sector in relation to Convention 169 which is directed at governments. IFC prepared this publication, in close consultation with the ILO, in response to the experiences that IFC has had in recent years with private investments affecting indigenous peoples and their lands in Latin America.

    IFC hopes this publication will help to raise awareness about the Convention and its possible implications for private sector companies, and provide added clarity and guidance for IFC clients. The publication should be read in conjunction with IFC’s Performance Standard on Indigenous Peoples.