More than money: New report reveals shortcomings in human rights policies of leading public development banks

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As the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) gears up for its Annual Meeting on 14 May, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Bankwatch release a report comparing the lending policies of four major public development banks whose loopholes are contributing to human rights.

6 May 2024. A new report by FIDH and Bankwatch, released the week ahead of the EBRD’s annual meeting, is putting in the spotlight how four leading public development banks must implement better measures to prevent their projects from endangering human rights.

Each year, public development banks make vital decisions on the financing of hundreds of development cooperation projects and business activities worldwide. Their lending policies commit to respecting human rights. Unfortunately, all too often, undertakings funded by these banks violate human rights despite having environmental and social safeguards in place.

This has been proven in the cases of the Corridor Vc motorway in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Indorama Agro project in Uzbekistan, the expansion of Budapest Airport in Hungary, the Mombassa Port Access Road in Kenya, and many other projects that Bankwatch and FIDH have been monitoring for years.

The analysis More than money: Public development banks must strengthen human rights safeguards contends that the current environmental and social sustainability frameworks of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the EBRD, the French Development Agency (AFD), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group – provide a solid basis for exercising human rights due diligence. However, it reveals significant shortcomings in transparency and public participation in the identification, prevention, management and remediation of human rights risks and impacts.

Anna Roggenbuck, Policy Officer at CEE Bankwatch Network, says: “Throughout all stages of the project life cycle – from assessment to implementation – the integration of human rights considerations can be improved. Quality procedures would allow bank staff to become more aware of the risks to human rights, an area in which no compromises should be acceptable.”

Gaelle Dusepulchre, Deputy Director of the Business, Human Rights & Environment Desk at FIDH, says: “Due diligence is key to ensuring sustainability and direct benefits for communities who are affected by these projects. By comparing the policies of these large banks, our analysis can contribute to a better understanding of the achievements that have been made and the challenges that remain to ensure that their work protects human rights and the environment.”

As the EBRD currently revises its good governance policies, it has a unique opportunity to take responsibility for the negative impacts of its investments and pioneer enhanced human rights due diligence among development banks.

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