Equator Principles: supporting responsible financing during COVID-19

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Jonathan Hancox

Impact Assessment - Project finance lead
T: +44 161 827 1890

The Equator Principles, the framework used by financial institutions to ensure large development projects have properly considered environmental and social impacts, published a Covid-19 specific Guidance Note in June 2020 which was developed by Ramboll. 

The business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are far reaching and have material implications on financing and ensuring that the environmental and social requirements of the Equator Principles continue to be met. The user friendly Covid-19 Guidance Note gives practical guidance to Equator Principle Finance Institutions (EPFIs) and borrowers alike. 

COVID-19 can impact the lenders’ ability to undertake robust due diligence as well as a borrower’s ability to fulfil its commitments to lenders, and brings borrowers new challenges in managing the health, safety and welfare of the workforce and local communities in compliance with Equator Principles. 

Guidance on managing COVID-19 has been rapidly evolving but predominantly focused on managing risks within the workforce and in communities, with less help available for managing environmental and social compliance assurance. The Equator Principles Association (EPA) therefore sought to develop a succinct and user-friendly guidance note for lenders and borrowers. 

The EPA convened a Steering Committee of Equator Principles Finance Institutions which engaged Ramboll to produce the Guidance Note. Ramboll conducted interviews with a variety of sector stakeholders including borrowers, lenders, legal advisers and other health, safety, environmental and social (HSES) consultants, and developed key issues and good practice responses for discussion and agreement with the Steering Committee. 

From here we developed the Guidance Note in a way that clearly distinguished guidance aimed at lenders and borrowers. The note gives practical advice, including good practice checklists, and highlighted scenarios that could pose specific compliance risks so that lenders may adopt a risk-based approach to understanding the impacts of COVID-19 across their project finance portfolio. The Guidance Note is publicly available on the EPA website and has been sent to all 105 Equator Principle Finance Institutions. 

Commenting on Ramboll’s involvement Philippa Spence, UK Managing Principal of Ramboll’s Environment & Health practice, said “From a business perspective COVID-19 has presented so many challenges, I hope this practical and easy-to-use guidance helps financial institutions and borrowers alike navigate through these difficult times. We were delighted to undertake this important piece of work with the EP Association and hope this is reflective of our standing as a thought leader within the finance sector.”

Related information

The financial response to COVID-19 so far
Impact assessment: Solutions for a sustainable world

 

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