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The Equator Principles have become a market standard in the area of project finance within the space of a few years and now form the basis of environmental and social risk management systems among financial institutions of all sizes and nationality. This in itself is a great achievement that needs to be preserved. The third version of these principles, launched on their 10th anniversary, broadens the scope of application to certain corporate financing activities directly linked to a project. Even with this development, which concerns financing methods where it seems reasonable to carry out such due diligence procedures, the Equator Principles still only cover a small share of the activity of the commercial banks that have adopted them. Some financial institutions have thus decided to establish broader coverage of their activity using sector CSR policies that specifically set out the environmental and social analysis criteria to be considered when reviewing projects in specific economic sectors. Despite examples of cooperation between banks to establish agreement of the stakes involved and to define best practices, there has not been a coherent response from the financial sector. The implementation of shared policies seems a long way off, and even the definition of guidelines seems complex due to different sensitivities of the financial institutions, which generally reflect the social acceptability of their activities within the societies in which the banks operate. While difficult, cooperation between financial institutions in the area of sector policies is vital if these policies are to truly contribute to more sustainable development of the economy.
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- Translating Standards into Successful Implementation: Sector Policies and Equator Principles
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