European banks sign up for environmental investment

The European Investment Bank and four other major financiers have singed up to a set of principles which will require borrowers to meet certain environmental criteria before they will be considered for investment.

The EIB, along with the Council of Europe Development Bank the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and their Scandinavian equivalents the Nordic Investment Bank and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation have all made the move in an effort to promote responsible development and allow clear tracking of the likely environmental impact of projects which they back.

The European Principles for the Environment are endorsed by the European Commission and take into account all EU standards and legislation covering the environment.

An open invitation has been made to other financial institutions wishing sign up to the principles.

A coalition of environmental NGOs led by Friends of the Earth and CEE Bankwatch has cautiously welcomed the move but is pressing the EIB to take action to ensure the principles are not mere rhetoric and translate into solid action on the ground.

"To make the commitment a reality the EIB needs to take the principles and standards mentioned above and fully incorporate them into its day to day financing policies and practice," said the NGOs in a statement.

It goes on to say the EIB should:

  • Revise, through a full public consultation process, its current Environmental Statement into a new environmental policy.

  • Prepare, through a full public consultation process, environmental safeguard procedures to guide its project assessment process and decision-making process.

  • Enhance its human resources and capacity to fully implement the Principles by increasing the amount of environmental experts in the EIB staff.

    Independent environmental specialists should be hired during a project's assessment process when necessary.

    Training should be provided for the current staff to improve their understanding of the commitments enshrined in the Environmental Principles declaration.

    Sam Bond

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