EBRD Publishes Public Information Policy

May 15, 2008

The new EBRD Public information policy (PIP) was approved on the 12th May. It sets out how the EBRD discloses information and consults with its stakeholders so as to promote better awareness and understanding of its strategies, policies and operations. At the same time, the PIP establishes clear lines of demarcation to distinguish information which is made publicly available (either on a routine basis or upon request) from information which may not be disclosed on the grounds of being confidential. This is to ensure that mutual trust is maintained between the Bank, its business clients and other partners.


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.

A-Z Guidelines to Successful Public Private Partnership

November 3, 2006

This seminar is being held by the European Public Private Partnership Centre in Hungary. On the 27th – 29th November 2006, at the Corinthia Aquincum Hotel, Budapest.

I am delighted to have been invited to present on ‘The need for environmental and social risk management for PPP Projects’.

The European Public-Private Partnership Center (EPPPC) was established to serve as a know-how center for public sector bodies, private entrepreneurs, investors and other industry players in the growing international marketplace of PPPs. Their state aim is to fully embrace the idea of PPP and educate the above representatives by offering them comprehensive training services as well as widespread expertise through consulting.

Link to the Training Workshop Brochure

Outlining the labour components of the revised Equator Principles

October 18, 2006
Extract from ELDIS:
Ergon / Ergon , 2006
This briefing paper outlines the labour components of the revised Equator principles – Equator II – to assist signatories, their clients and other stakeholders in understanding the new requirements. It introduces the new Equator Principles, which are based on a revised version of IFC Performance Standards – provisions on labour standards and provides an overview of the issues financial institutions must now address. It also suggests some steps they must take to operationalise the new requirements.Until now, the labour component of the IFC policies referenced by the Equator Principles has been limited to occupational health and safety and avoidance of harmful child labour and forced labour. The new IFC Performance Standard 2 (PS2), covers a range of new issues such as non-discrimination, freedom of association and non-employee workers, and also introduces a new set of processes that must be followed.Highlights of the PS2 include:

  • there must be a human resources policy covering terms and conditions and other rights at work
  • all employees must be informed of their terms and conditions and entitlements
  • collective bargaining agreements must be respected, or if not in place, terms and conditions of work must be reasonable and, at minimum, comply with local law
  • the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining must be respected
  • if rights to freedom of association are restricted in law, clients will enable alternative means for the expression of worker rights
  • projects must not use forced labour
  • projects must not employ children in economically exploitative or hazardous ways, and national laws must be complied with
  • if a significant number of jobs will be lost a retrenchment plan must be drawn up based on non-discrimination and consultation
  • there should be a confidential grievance mechanism
  • workers must be provided with a healthy working environment
  • sub-contracted workers are covered by most of these provisions

The brief argues that the new Equator Principles have the potential to improve conditions for many workers, but the procedures required for assessing risk and the issues that must be considered will be unfamiliar to most private sector banks – as will the possibility of engaging with wider stakeholders, such as trade unions.

Arguments for both voluntary and mandatory standards for sustainability reporting

October 17, 2006

This new KPMG and UNEP report provides a balanced consideration of voluntary and mandatory approaches to sustainability reporting. A key proposition in the report is that the voluntary versus mandatory debate does not imply an “either / or” position, but rather finding a balance between regulation in certain high risk or high impact areas, and allowing industry associations or individual companies to make decisions in other areas.

Overview and analysis of current trends and approaches in mandatory and voluntary standards for sustainability reporting

UNEP; KPMG Global Sustainability Services / UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) , 2006

This report provides an overview and analysis of current trends and approaches in mandatory and voluntary standards for sustainability reporting. It summarises arguments in favour of both voluntary and mandatory approaches, and suggests key considerations for public and private sector decision-makers in addressing different regulatory approaches and possible policy mixes. It also provides a listing of reporting and related standards in mainly OECD countries, including the European Union (EU), as well as the emerging market economies of Brazil, India and South Africa.

Arguments in favour of voluntary standards include:

  • sustainability reporting is young and evolving and will therefore require time to mature. Mandatory standards will stifle innovation and not ensure moral buy-in
  • public regulators are often not acquainted with company or industry issues or might avoid difficult issues for political reasons

Arguments in favour of mandatory standards include:

  • not enough companies are taking up voluntary approaches, that the use of regulated guidelines and codes can add to the credibility of reports and help ensure a minimum level of disclosure
  • voluntary reports tend not to disclose negative information, and that mandatory reporting will ensure the development of a central and comparable source of data for use by investors and other stakeholders

Companies find it difficult to Report on Human Rights Issues – bespoke solutions are needed

August 15, 2006

Company reporting on human rights issues – SustainAbility, 2006 The study examines company reporting on human rights issues. It explores the expectations of stakeholders with regard to corporate reporting on human rights, investigates trends in reporting around specific human rights issues, examines the current state of corporate reporting on human rights, and provides a framework for companies to use to review their current and future approach to reporting on human rights. In order to do so the study analysed reports from 35 companies.

Findings of the study include

  • it is difficult to set specific reporting indicators against which all companies should report; instead, stakeholders stated that human rights risks depend upon the company’s operating context at the local level and that reporting should be tailored to account for context-specific concerns and issues
  • while each company must undertake its own human rights risk assessment, stakeholders acknowledged that there are some common risks and related stakeholder expectations within industries
  • while many companies explained that their management systems for human rights have been in place for some time, most started reporting on their performance externally only in the past few years
  • the breadth of reporting on human rights has expanded beyond some of the primary issues such as diversity and workplace issues
  • the depth of reporting is moving beyond policy statements and codes of conduct to performance data and results
  • the number of industries reporting on human rights has increased
  • here is more location-specific reporting
  • the comparability across company reports is slowly increasing
  • however, there is still relatively little reporting on human rights compared to other issues commonly discussed in sustainability reports
  • the most commonly cited audience for human rights reporting information was the socially responsible investment (SRI) community, and in addition, there appears to be increasing interest from mainstream investors, particularly with regards to risk management

Based on these findings the study develops a framework to help companies increase their transparency and accountability with respect to human rights. Original article in Eldis.

Dramatic global rise in corporate responsibility reporting

August 4, 2006

A record number of leading global companies are voluntarily reporting on social and environmental issues, according to a report published today (Global Corporate Responsibility Reporting Trends 2006) by the corporate responsibility consultancy ‘Context’.

The Context report, based on information from the CorporateRegister.com database, analyses reporting of the world’s 300 leading public companies. It shows:
point Only 10 of the top 100 in Europe do not report;
point A majority of the US top 100 now publish a report;
point Most companies report on a wide range of issues rather than focusing solely on environment or philanthropy;
point The majority of European reporters use external assurance to validate their reports, but this is less common elsewhere and very rare in the US; and
point A growing number of these companies acknowledge the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, but very few are formally “in accordance” with them.

But there are still question marks about the quality of reporting, Context directors argue:
Experienced reporters are eager to escape conformity with informal reporting standards to produce more effective communications;
point Companies need to focus on key issues, but find guidance on “materiality” issues unhelpful; and
point Reports need to be part of a process of improving performance and are not an end in themselves.