Addressing inequality in all its forms and supporting the inclusion of all people – whatever their gender, socioeconomic background or age – is a key part of the work we do. We are committed to the respect of human rights and believe that our social impact promotes sustainable growth and businesses, and benefits the wider community.
Gender and inclusion
We support our clients across all sectors to diversify their workforces, offering high-quality local training, improving access to finance, creating opportunities for employment and promoting equitable access to key services.
In 2018, the Bank signed over 50 projects addressing gender, youth and regional inclusion. Nearly two-thirds of these projects had a specific focus on gender equality, while the others sought to enhance access to employment, skills and services for young people, refugees, and other groups.
received training and gained new skills
We are committed to the respect of human rights in our lending operations. We require clients, in their business activities, to respect human rights, avoid infringement on the human rights of others, and address adverse human rights risks and impacts. Our environmental and social standards integrate a broad range of human rights considerations related to the environment; health, safety and security for workers and communities; land acquisition and livelihoods; vulnerable groups; cultural heritage; and stakeholder engagement.
Our processes for environmental and social due diligence, impact mitigation and monitoring of projects, as well as our requirements for information disclosure and the provision of an independent accountability mechanism, are aligned with the corporate responsibility to respect human rights enshrined in the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).
We are continuously improving our policies, processes and guidance in line with good international practice and our tools to identify human rights risks early in the project appraisal process.
We understand the potential risks of forced labour and human trafficking via the investments we make, particularly where our investees rely on third-party contractors and supply chains. In December 2018 we, in collaboration with CDC, IFC and DFID, published a Good Practice Note offering our clients practical guidance to help identify and address forced labour risks.
Alistair Clark, Managing Director for Environment and Sustainability at the EBRD said: “Forced labour cannot be tolerated under any circumstance, but we recognise that tackling it can present an extraordinary challenge for our clients, especially where it occurs in lower tiers of supply and contracting chains.”
In 2018 we started working with a number of agribusiness clients in Central Asia to build capacity and better understanding of how to map suppliers and associated risks and develop measures to prevent or mitigate forced labour risks. This work will continue over the next year.
We also delivered training to our colleagues working in our Resident Offices in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and laid the ground for technical cooperation aimed at improving local consultants’ capacity to conduct supply chain labour risk assessments in the region.
In April 2018, the EBRD released a joint statement as part of a group of 10 IFIs to reaffirm our commitment to prevent sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and abuse, both within our own institutions and in our operations. The statement recognised the important role IFIs play in both the example they set in their own institutional practices and in the standards they adopt in their projects and operations, and the group committed to further advance standards through a set of joint principles. During 2019, the EBRD will work with IFC and CDC Group to develop good practice guidance in a joint publication and deliver training both internally and externally to build capacity to identify and manage gender-based violence risks in our operations.
Respect for human rights means creating an environment where stakeholders can freely engage with us and with our clients. Civil society organisations (CSOs) and project-impacted stakeholders must be able to provide us with feedback, voice opposition, and raise concerns to ensure that environmental and social impacts in EBRD-financed projects are avoided, minimised or mitigated appropriately.
In 2018, we developed internal guidelines on the handling of allegations of retaliation for criticism and complaints related to EBRD projects and we will raise awareness among EBRD staff during 2019 to ensure their proper implementation.
“Forced labour cannot be tolerated under any circumstance, but we recognise that tackling it can present an extraordinary challenge for our clients, especially where it occurs in lower tiers of supply and contracting chains.”