The Equator Principles Association (EPA) at its 2017 Annual Meeting in São Paulo, Brazil responded to the call from almost 250 civil society organisations to fundamentally reform the Equator Principles, by announcing a 'targeted update process' that is to lead to a new set of Equator Principles (EP4) by mid-2019. During its upcoming Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. EPA will seek to establish a basic agreement between All Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) on the general direction of the update process with respect to four key identified topics: social impact and human rights; climate change; designated countries and applicable standards; and the scope of applicability of the EPs. Following such agreement, the concrete drafting process for EP4 will begin.
This meeting will lead to important decisions relating to not only the revision process going forward but also to the revisions themselves. BankTrack thought it timely to share once more in advance their expectations, as a broad range of civil society organisations, on the eventual outcome of the revision process. These will serve as the criteria for civil societies to assess the outcome in a public response. Association 3 Herissons signed onto the open letter, along with other peer civil society organizations.
We are calling to All Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) for ambition regarding the Equator Principles (EPs) revision process:
- A commitment on combating climate change: to adequately respond to climate change as an existential risk to the planet as a whole, as well as to their own business operations, in the course of their financing of projects.
- A commitment to human rights and community rights: to prevent the financing of projects involving severe and often foreseeable human rights abuses. EP4 must ensure full alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. EP4 must also include an explicit commitment to uphold the right of all Indigenous Peoples, whether in designated or non designated countries, to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) regarding any projects affecting them and their traditional territories. EP4 must also contain specific commitments to respecting the land rights of communities in all transactions financed by EPFIs.
- A commitment to full transparency: both for the proper implementation of the EPs on a project level and the overall credibility of the initiative.
- A commitment to accountability: for the proper implementation of the EPs both on a project level and for the overall credibility of the initiative. While the EPFIs need to ensure that project sponsors comply with the EPs, they also need to establish better accountability for themselves. EP4 must ensure that access to remedy is readily available for all communities affected by EPs projects.
- A commitment to full implementation, globally: extended beyond direct project finance loans and 'corporate loans where proceeds are known', to apply broadly to all finance provided by adopting banks to companies planning to construct and/or operate projects with potential negative impacts on the environment and communities.