The EBRD has launched an online training programme to help its clients in the financial sector manage the environmental and social risks arising from their lending activities.
“People sometimes wonder how investments in the financial sector are linked to the environment,” said Anne Maria Cronin, a Senior Advisor in the EBRD’s Environment and Sustainability Department. “But if a client bank’s borrower regularly incurs penalties for causing environmental damage, has disruption to operations and is unable to repay their loan, that affects the bank’s bottom line and it becomes real to their business.
“So it makes financial as well as legal and reputational sense for our clients to be aware of these risks and know how to manage and mitigate them,” she added. “Working together with the EBRD on sustainability issues, financial institutions understand that they can add long-term value to their portfolios.”
Until recently, however, educating the EBRD’s client banks and other financial institutions about how to manage environmental and social risk meant holding face to face workshops. This required them to make their staff available, bring them in from numerous branches and ask them to devote a day or more of their time to travel and training.
To make this training available to as many people as possible and in a more convenient format, the EBRD has just launched an online environmental and social training programme for financial intermediaries.
Now staff at client banks can access the course free of charge from their desks whenever they choose. Once they have finished the course, they can take an exam and, if successful, obtain a certificate.
The training includes an overview of environmental and social issues; information on how to assess and monitor risk; and an extensive library of interactive case studies. These are particularly useful in helping people understand how environmental and social risk management is relevant to their institution and their clients.
One big advantage of the online training programme is that it can be updated as and when required, plus users can go back to it for reference even after they have taken their final test.
“If we are providing loans through partner financial institutions, we need to keep track of where that money is going and how it is being used to make sure it’s in line with the EBRD’s environmental and social values,” Ms Cronin said.
“Thanks to e-learning, we can reach out easily to our many clients and help them raise their standards in this area. In turn, they help raise the environmental and social standards of the thousands of small, medium and micro-sized companies who ultimately benefit from EBRD credit lines, equity to banks and other financial projects.”