3 International Financial Institutions (IFIs) Owned by governments, institutions Often have specific remit—to invest in developing or transition economies, to reduce poverty, etc. Often, no one country’s requirements are adopted by the institution—it develops institutional policies and requirements that it applies to its activities. E.g. EBRD is owned by 61 countries, the EU, and the EIB. EBRD uses the more strict of national or EU environmental requirements for our projects.
4 Types of clients Public sector: Client is the government, municipality, or state-owned enterprise Private sector: Client is a company Public-private partnerships: Such as some projects dealing with public services (water, wastewater, solid waste, transport)
5 Internal application of principles Information disclosure Public Consultation Accountability
6 Policies—Public Information Policy, Access to Information, positive/negative lists Summary information on projects /disclosing information directly on institution website Annual reports/publications Level of detail of evaluation materials, Board of Director’s voting records, etc. Information Disclosure
7 Public consultation Consultation on draft governance policies (environment, social, accountability mechanisms, disclosure policies) Draft sector policies (natural resources, transport, municipal, power & energy, etc.) Detailed consultation programme at Annual Meeting with staff, top management, Board of Directors
8 Accountability Internal grievance and appeals processes for staff Whistleblowing Policy, corporate governance policies External grievance mechanism for complaints about projects or concerns about whether the institution has followed its own policies Appeal process that is for handling requests for information which have been denied Different institutions have ranges of independence in their grievance and appeals mechanisms
10 Legal issues Aarhus requirements are the commitment of a government, normally not a private company Projects financed by IFIs must comply with relevant regulatory requirements If client is private, the IFI is not negotiating with the state— the legal relationship is with the company Aarhus Compliance Committee has stated that no matter what additional consultation, disclosure, etc. is required by financing institutions—the obligation is on the government to ensure it meets Aarhus requirements
11 Institutional Policy Issue Banks are not implementing agencies of international conventions and treaties, but we do support a variety of international agreements and programmes and reflect this in our policies. Most requests to the IFI are for information belonging to clients that has been provided to the bank for review. The information does not belong to the bank—it is provided confidentially as part of financing information and can only be released with permission. Primary project disclosure and consultation requirements are the responsibility of the client—as one objective of EBRD is to build capacity of businesses to be transparent and accountable. Differences between IFIs on the amount of information they disclose on their websites. Resource issue and principle of client responsibility.
12 Challenges (1 of 3) Timing Timing Issue Local requirement—30 day consultation on EIA. Most IFIs require 60 or 120 days consultation. If the local consultation has already happened, the additional consultation can confuse people—as the permits are often already granted. The purpose of such consultation when decisions have already been made is to inform the banks’ decision making and any mitigation plans agreed with the banks.
13 Challenges-2/3 Public Services Projects such as water, wastewater, solid waste are considered public services, even if owned by a private company. Subject directly to Aarhus Convention requirements; e.g., providing environmental information directly to requestor. (AC Art. 2, c) None of the Aarhus Guidance currently deals with this issue and explains to these service companies what their obligations are.
14 Challenges (3 of 3) Meaningfulness Many countries in our region require notification and public hearing on an impact assessment. They do not however, require public involvement at an early stage of scoping the EIA—therefore public opportunities to comment are late when most decisions are made. It is not very consultative. Format of public hearings is normally a long presentation about the project and then answering questions about the project. It is not consultative—it is information disclosure. We review local disclosure on a project and often require additional information and consultation to meet our requirements.
15 Recommendations Aarhus Convention Secretariat to open dialogue with IFIs Survey IFIs to identify perceived role in implementing international conventions with regard to 1) institutional issues and 2) projects Secretariat to identify what they perceive as IFI role, given that most IFIs are not party to the Convention Identify any tools needed by IFIs to check compliance with requirements at the project level Guidance note needed for public utilities projects on Aarhus Convention obligations (EBRD to work with Secretariat on this guidance in 2011)