Equator Principles – largest ever Annual Meeting & EPIII Update

November 7, 2011

The Equator Principles (EP) Association held its largest ever Annual Meeting on 24 October 2011 in Washington DC, with 98 persons from 52 institutions in attendance.

Equator Principles Financial Institutions and Associates discussed and debated numerous important topics related to the EP III Update process.

Members heard proposals from Task Forces and Working Groups, who have been working on key thematic areas arising out the EP Strategic Review, including:

  • scope;
  • climate change;
  • reporting and transparency; and
  • further proposals on how to integrate the new IFC Performance Standards language on social risks, stakeholder engagement and human rights into EP III.

Feedback from members during the meeting will be taken on board and EP Association members will be consulted further as the draft EP III is produced. The EP Association is now aiming to have the draft EP III available for formal stakeholder comment and review in early 2012.

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Start of the Equator Principles III Update Process

August 18, 2011

On the 18th July 2011 the EP Association announced the Commencement of the EP III Update Process:

Following the conclusion of the IFC Performance Standards Update and Review process, the Equator Principles (EP) Strategic Review process, the EP Association has initiated internal discussions on key thematic areas including:

  • Scope of the EPs.
  • Reporting and transparency.
  • Governance issues, including membership criteria.
  • Stakeholder engagement during the EP III Update process (including industry and clients, peer financial institutions, and civil society organisations).

The target date for the finalisation and launch of the EP III framework is March 2012.


New Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2011

August 18, 2011

On 24 August the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations 2011 (which replace the EIA Regulations 1999) will come into effect.

 

The main changes in the new Regulations:

1. They are consolidated Regulations so from 24th August practitioners will only need to refer to this one set of Regulations for planning related EIA in England rather than having to be aware of the 1999 Regulatory requirements and how they are changed by the numerous amendments that were made since that time.

2. Schedule 1 and 2 have had new project types added related to carbon capture facilities, transportation pipelines and geological storage – this addition implements the changes to the EIA Directive through Directive 2009/31/EC into the English planning system.

3. Schedule 2(13) ‘Change or Extensions’ to schedule 1 and 2 development has been updated to take account of the Baker ruling.

4. Three additional Regulations have been added to provide Local Planning Authorities with greater clarity on the screening process, especially around ‘subsequent applications’ – see: Regulations 7, 8, 9

5. As a consequence of the three new screening Regulations you should be aware that Regulation 19 requests will, from 24th August be known as Regulation 22 requests.

6. A ‘third party right of challenge’ has been added (made more clear) in terms of screening. Regulation 4(8) allows an interested party (i.e. not just the developer / applicant) request that the Secretary of State make a screening direction where they disagree with a local planning authority’s screening opinion.

7. Further to the above, all LPA screening opinions (including those that indicate EIA is not required) must now have reasons (justification) behind the authority’s decision Regulation 4(7)(a), which must be made available as part of the public record – Regulation 23(1)(h).

8. The definition of ‘consultation bodies’ is amended and has added the Marine Management Organisation, under certain circumstances – Regulation 2.


New Governance Rules Introduced For The Equator Principles

November 10, 2010

In July 2010 the Equator Principles website announced that ‘The Equator Principles (EPs), the leading voluntary standard for managing social and environmental risk in project financing, will formally adopt new Governance Rules from 1 July 2010, the result of several years’ intensive work by the Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs). The Governance Rules (“the Rules”), that form the basis of the newly created Equator Principles Association, have been established to confirm the purpose, operation and management structure of the Equator Principles. The Rules formalize existing practices and procedures, increase the transparency of the Association, and will ensure that EPFIs meet their responsibilities such as public reporting on EP implementation’.

Shawn Miller, Chair of the EPFI Steering Committee and Citi’s Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) Director said: “The Equator Principles have had deep and lasting positive impact on the global financial services sector: the Principles are now one of the most successful voluntary environmental and social risk diligence frameworks in the sector, with the number of adopting institutions growing every year since their launch in 2003. The Rules significantly strengthen the Equator Principles, and the new governance framework ensures that there are effective decision making procedures for the enlarged group of adopting institutions. The Rules will make us more efficient as we continue to grow, and members will be held accountable to them. We believe that the Rules are an important step forward in a broader strengthening of the Association’s governance and EP implementation.”


New EBRD Performance Requirements

September 22, 2008

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) new environmental and social policy was approved on 12 May 2008.

The policy has more explicit social provisions. In some areas, the EBRD’s requirements exceed IFC’s requirements. This includes EBRD’s reference to obtain a “consent” where operations are located in areas with indigenous populations. Reflecting its membership, EBRD also refers to a number of European provisions related to the Aarhus Convention on Public Participation and the EU EIA Directive.


EIA Reserve Matters

September 22, 2008

The amended EIA regulation came into force on the 1st September 2008.

These Regulations amend the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (the 1999 Regulations”) so that they apply to applications for subsequent approval of matters under conditions attached to planning permissions.

In 2006, the House of Lords and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the UK had failed to transpose the EIA Directive correctly, because the Regulations implementing the EIA Directive allowed only for EIA before the grant of outline planning permission and not at the later stage when reserved matters were approved.

The ECJ ruled that where development cannot be carried out until details relating to reserved matters are approved by a local planning authority, the decisions to grant outline planning permission and to approve the reserved matters must be considered to constitute, as a whole, a multi-stage development consent for the purposes of the EIA Directive. If it became apparent during the course of the second stage that the project was likely to have significant effects on the environment (for example, where those effects were not identifiable until then) then an environmental impact assessment was required. Since the Regulations then in force did not allow for EIA to be required at that stage, they did not fully implement the EIA Directive.

These Regulations amend the 1999 Regulations to close the loophole identified by the ECJ. As well as applying to applications for approval or reserved matters and other matters under a condition, they also apply to ROMP (review of mineral permissions) applications.


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.