'Clients want more clarity', says EBRD director
In February the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invited civil society organisations, clients, partners and all interested citizens to participate in revising the bank's 'Environmental and Social Policy' and 'Public Information Policy.' To guarantee free participation of all interested parties in the public consultation process and secure optimal quality of the revisions, the EBRD called six public consultation meetings. The REC's Public Participation Programme led a consortium that held regional public consultations in Belgrade, Bishkek, Budapest, London, Moscow and Tbilisi.
Approximately 150 participants attended the public meetings; most were from civil society organisations representing issues related to environment, transparency, human rights, gender and social concerns, as well as business. EBRD financial support enabled 40 NGOs to participate. Also in attendance were various ministry officials and journalists.
"Our clients want more clarity on what they are required to do, and wish to distinguish their responsibilities from the responsibilities of the [EBRD]. We therefore want to apply best practice by structuring the new Environmental and Social Policy in such a way that these responsibilities are more clearly defined," said Alistair Clark, EBRD Corporate Director of Environment and Sustainability.
The second policy under discussion, the Public Information Policy (PIP), would normally have undergone its next triennial review in 2009, but the EBRD decided to bring the process forward to coincide with the Environmental Policy review, Clark explained. A section on the bank's disclosure of environmental information is being included in the new draft PIP, among other changes. Following the public consultation, both policies were adopted and announced in May at the EBRD's annual meeting in Kiev.
Clark noted that it is extremely important to have as full and meaningful a consultation on governance policies as possible, that the EBRD has done this both internally and externally, and that he and his colleagues have consulted with all of the bank's relevant departments, in addition to senior management staff and the board of directors. The corporate director added that, externally, the EBRD had been consulting its clients, other banks, international agencies such as the International Labour Organization and World Health Organization, and civil society. Three workshops with indigenous people on specific policy requirements were held in March-April in different parts of Russia.