Three new EBRD policies, many steps towards greater transparency

By Svitlana  Pyrkalo

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Three new policies, each introducing new provisions contributing to greater transparency and accountability, have come into effect at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

These are the Environmental and Social Policy, the Public Information Policy and the Project Complaint Mechanism.

All of these policies and mechanisms, which are reviewed on a regular basis, were adopted by the EBRD’s Board of Directors in May 2014 and came into force on 7 November. They include new provisions enhancing the way the EBRD interacts with the public, both locally and globally, with regard to current and future projects.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said: “The EBRD’s priority, and my priority as the Bank’s President, is to develop strong, progressive policies. For these three policies we held unprecedented and wide-ranging consultations. The resulting policies move the Bank forward in its efforts to listen and cooperate better with all those whose lives we aim to improve with our work, and all partners and stakeholders.”

Environmental and Social Policy

The EBRD’s revised Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) applies to new projects that begin due diligence after 7 November 2014. This policy reflects good practice for sustainability, risk mitigation and transparency.

In the 2014 Environmental and Social Policy the EBRD clarifies a number of issues including the definition of a “project”, the respective roles and responsibilities of the Bank and its clients, and the categorisation of projects.

Some of the notable innovations are:

  • Animal welfare: projects involving animal production or processing are required to meet EU standards for animal welfare.
  • Resource efficiency: the new policy recognises that in addition to energy efficiency, efficient water use is a critical issue in countries where the Bank works.
  • Gender impacts: identifying opportunities to promote gender equality and addressing potential gender impacts at the project level.
  • EBRD policy is also strengthened in the areas of human rights, biodiversity and financial intermediaries, as well as health and safety, which now has its own dedicated section of the policy.

Public Information Policy

The Public Information Policy (PIP) embodies the EBRD’s commitment to a high-level of transparency in its activities. The revised PIP includes a number of enhancements regarding the disclosure of information. Some of those concern increased information on potential environmental and social impacts and mitigation measures of EBRD operations. Others promote more consultation processes with the public.

Under the changes, the amount of information disclosed in project summary documents (PSDs) will be expanded. PSDs on new Category A projects (projects requiring an environmental and social impact assessment) will now be updated annually. In addition, transition indicators will be included in PSDs for public sector projects, and cumulative information on transition impact in sectors and regions will be reported in the Annual Report.

There will also be project summary documents for technical-cooperation projects not related to EBRD financing and exceeding €300,000. Finally, information about the transition impact of projects will be expanded, in particular the publication of transition impact ratings for public sector projects

Project Complaint Mechanism

The Project Complaint Mechanism (PCM) is the EBRD’s accountability mechanism that assesses complaints about Bank-financed projects. It provides individuals and local groups that may be directly or adversely affected by an EBRD project, as well as civil society organisations, with a means of raising complaints or grievances with the Bank, independently of banking operations.

Some of the notable changes in the new PCM are:

  • People with not only economic but also social and cultural interests in the project area can now file a complaint.
  • Registration and eligibility assessment processes are now easier to follow.
  • To make the PCM more accessible to communities in countries where the Bank works, PCM reports (and all supporting publications) will in due course be translated into the language of the country from which the complaint originated.
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