Export Credit Agencies

Call for the reform of Export Credit and Investment Insurance Agencies

160 NGOs from 46 countries demand greater transparency and the adoption of environmental and social standards for publicly supported export credit and investment insurance agencies.

Publicly supported Export Credit and Investment Insurance Agencies are supporting some $432 million in trade and investment, accounting for more than 10.4 percent of world exports. Of this amount, over $70 billion a year is for long term loans and guarantees for investments and projects in developing countries that often have significant adverse environmental and social impacts. Long term loans from these agencies account for more than 20 percent of developing country debt, and 37 percent of developing country debt owed to official, publicly financed agencies.

Publicly supported private capital flows have the potential to foster environmentally and socially responsible development, thereby contributing to advance the numerous commitments towards sustainable development made by governments at the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit as well as in subsequent international fora and agreements. Multilateral and bilateral finance agencies such as the World Bank Group and the bilateral aid agencies of the OECD countries have adopted in recent years environmental, social, and transparency policies concerning their activities, and increasingly these policies apply to the growing financial support of these agencies for private sector investment.

The lack of minimal standards of transparency, and of coherent environmental and social policies for publicly supported export credit and investment insurance agencies has resulted in an international double standard whereby these agencies are supporting projects and investments that would be unacceptable to publicly financed multilateral development banks and bilateral aid agencies. Examples include large dams involving massive forcible displacement of poor populations such as the China Three Gorges and India Narmada River Maheshwar projects, environmentally destructive mines threatening protected areas and indigenous peoples, large-scale coal-fired power plants with no consideration of cumulative climate change impacts or of environmentally more benign energy investments, and investments in unsustainable exploitation of the earth’s remaining intact tropical and temperate forests.

The lack of even a minimal commitment not to finance economically unproductive investments and expenditures by many of these agencies coupled with the severe environmental and social impacts of many of their investments works directly at cross purposes with the goals of other publicly supported multilateral and bilateral agencies. Export credit and insurance agencies are a major contributor to a foreign debt incurred too frequently for unsustainable and unproductive activities, and for many developing countries this debt burden is hindering sustainable economic growth. The lack of common standards is resulting in a race to the bottom among these agencies whereby any agency that attempts to set responsible standards will be penalized.

At the 1997 Denver Global Economic Summit, the G7 countries declared that “private sector financial flows from industrial nations have a significant impact on sustainable development worldwide. Governments should help promote sustainable practices by taking environmental factors into account when providing financing support for investment in infrastructure and equipment. We attach importance to the work on this in the OECD and will review progress at our meeting next year.” Although there has been much talk in the OECD, there has been little concrete progress towards an actual agreement on these issues.

Therefore, we call upon governments and the OECD to engage in a frank and constructive dialogue with civil society in our countries and in countries that are recipients of export finance on the following critical issues:

1. CALL FOR GREATER TRANSPARENCY AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATON

Access to environmental and social impact information, consultation with, and participation of civil society and affected and interested communities and groups is an elemental principle for public agencies supporting investment and economic development. It is a principle recognized in numerous international fora and organizations. Lack of transparency and consultation with affected communities and concerned groups increases project risk, the very thing export credit and investment insurance agencies have been created to mitigate..

2. CALL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCREENING AND ASSESSMENT

Environmental screening procedures prohibiting financial support for particular toxic substances and environmentally harmful projects, as well as transparent, independently prepared, participatory impact assessments are common practices in OECD countries to help ensure proper use of public funds and guarantees. These procedures need to be applied to the activities of export credit and insurance agencies.

3. CALL FOR SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

Publicly supported private sector investment should serve the public interest in industrialized and developing countries, as the simple quid pro quo for the use of scarce public financial support where there are many alternative uses for such support. Use of public funds, guarantees and risk insurance should not contribute to the environmental and social impoverishment of affected communities and citizens, and should in no case support investments that contribute directly or indirectly to the violation of basic human rights.

4. CALL FOR AGREEMENT ON COMMON ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL STANDARDS

Based on the principles cited above, we urge our governments through the G7, OECD and other fora to call for an agreement on common environmental and social standards for export credit agencies; to set a deadline for reaching such an agreement within two years; to base the agreement on minimal existing standards in other publicly supported agencies subsidizing public and private investment such as those of the World Bank Group or the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC); and to extend the mandate for reaching such an agreement to investment insurance agencies not represented in the OECD deliberations but which do have a common forum in the Berne Union, the International Union of Credit and Investment Insurers.

Endorsed by:

Jorge Cappato: Fundación Proteger, Argentina

Lee Rhiannon: AID/WATCH, Australia

Mark Pearson: Animal Liberation, Australia

Jeremy Hobbs: Community Aid Abroad (Oxfam in Australia) Australia

Sarojini Krishnapillai: Friends of the Earth, Australia

Igor O’Neill: Mineral Policy Institute, Australia

Ian Fry: Pacific BioWeb, Australia

John Revington: Rainforest Information Centre, Australia

Senator Dee Margetts: Parliamentary Representative for The Greens WA, Australia

Martina Neuwirth: Debt Relief Initiative/Jubilee 2000, Austria

Michiel van Voorst: EURODAD, Belgium

Ariane Crampton: FERN, Belgium

Magdalena Guilhon: Cemina – Centro de Projetos da Mulher, Brazil

Magda Renner: Friends of the Earth, Brazil

Mauricio Galinkin: Fundação CEBRAC, Brazil

Sérgio Henrique Guimarães: Instituto Centro de Vida, Brazil

Donald Sawyer: Instituto Sociedade População e Natureza, Brazil

Thais Rodrigues Corral: REDEH – Rede de Desenvolvimento Humano, Brazil

Samuel Nguiffo: Centre pour l’Environnement et le Developpement, Cameroon

Rolf Bettner: Habitat Protection Society, Canada

Robin Round: Halifax Initiative, Canada

Isabel Crizon: Instituto de Estudios Ambientales para el Desarrollo, Colombia

Pavel Pribyl: Hnuti DUHA/Friends of the Earth, Czech Republic

Ricardo Navarro: CESTA – Friends of the Earth, El Salvador

Peep Mardiste: Tartu Student Nature Protection Group, Estonia

Kaija Helle: Friends of the Earth, Finland Franaoise Vanni Agir ici pour un monde solidaire France

Michel Faucon: CRID, France

Bernhard Henselmann: Artists for Nature, Germany

Henry Mathews: Association of Critical Shareholders, Germany

Dorit Lehrack: Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) Germany

Phillip Mimkes: Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren Germany

Bernhard Henselmann EarthLink Germany

Hermann Hatzfeldt ECOROPA Germany

Ulrike Eggers Eine Welt Netzwerk Hamburg Germany

Katrin Seifert Euronature Germany Sieglinde Weinbrenner FIAN Germany

Helgard Wagner IMBAS Germany

Bernhard V”lk Initiative Bessere Zukunft Germany

Heike Drillisch infoe Germany

Sibylle Schücking-Helfferich Lobby für Menschenrechte Germany

Hans-Christian Mittag Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU) Germany

Dario Jana Red Internacional de Apoyo al Pueblo Pehuenche Germany

Reinhard Behrend Rettet den Regenwald Germany

Caroline Zúñiga Urgewald Germany

Esther Hoffmann Watch Indonesia! Germany

Barbara Unmüssig WEED Germany

Prof. Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie Germany

Renata Kiss ETK – Bankwatch Working Group Hungary

Erzsébet Schmuck National Society of Conservationists – Friends of the Earth Hungary

Shripad Dharmadhikary NBA – Narmada Bachao Andolan India

Kavaljit Singh Public Interest Research Group India

Titi Soentoro Bioforum Indonesia

Hasjrul Junaid SKEPHI Indonesia

Sadhbh O’Neill Earthwatch – Friends of the Earth Ireland

Francesco Martone Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale Italy

Satoko Kishimoto A SEED Japan Japan

Ikuko Matsumoto Friends of the Earth Japan

Tomoyo Saito Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES) Japan

Shinichi Sakuma Japan TNC Monitor Japan

Hida Yuichi Kobe Student Youth Center Japan

Mika Iba Network for Safe and Secure Food & Environment Japan

Ueno Satoshi No Nukes Asia Forum Japan

Kiyokazu Koshida Pacific Asia Resource Center Japan

Tomoko Sakuma People’s Forum 2001 Japan

Bank Monitoring Unit Kenya

Saulius Piksrys Atgaja Community Lithuania

Linas Vainius Lithuanian Green Movement Lithuania

Elizabeth Wong Suara Rakyat Malaysia Malaysia

Gustavo Alanís-Ortega The Mexican Environmental Law Center Mexico

Alecu Tentitsa Ecological Movement of Moldova Moldova

Ulli Eins Earthlife Africa – Namibia Branch Namibia

Shobhakar Budhathoki INHURED Nepal

Theo Ruyter Both ENDS The Netherlands

Micha Kuiper Friends of the Earth Utrecht The Netherlands

Yvette Lawson Komitee Indonesia The Netherlands

Sander vam Bennekom Tools for Transition The Netherlands

Oliver Hoedeman Towards a different Europe The Netherlands

Fiona Dove Transnational Institute The Netherlands

Irene Bloemink Friends of the Earth The Netherlands

Ingrid Ennis UNITEC New Zealand

Øyvind Eggen FIVAS – Association for International Water and Forest Studies Norway

Morten Rønning The Future in our Hands/Norwatch Omar Asghar Khan SUNGI Development Foundation Pakistan Elias Díaz Peña SOBREVIVENCIA – Friends of the Earth Paraguay

Shay Cullen Preda Foundation Inc. Philippines

Ewa Charkiewicz CEECAP/Tools for Transition Poland

Magda Stoczkiewicz Polish Ecological Club Poland

Ion Zamfir Earth Friends Romania

Bako Mihaly StrawberryNet Foundation Romania

Andrei Laletin Friends of Siberian Forests Russia

Vladimir Petrenko Saratov Union for Chemical Safety Russia

Sviatoslav Zabelin Socio-Ecological Union Russia

Norbert Brazda Center for Environmental Public Advocacy Slovakia

Juraj Zamkovsky Friends of the Earth Slovakia

Juraj Lukac WOLF Forest Protection Movement Slovakia

Vida Ogorelec Wagner UMANOTERA The Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development Slovenia

Dr. Patrick Bond Lecturer University of the Witwatersrand South Africa Sören Lindh Africa Groups of Sweden Sweden

Frode Pleym Fältbiologerna Sweden

Dennis Pamlin Friends of the Earth Sweden

Bo Thunberg Swedish Society for Nature Conservation Sweden

Daphne Thuvesson Trees and People Forum Sweden

Peter Bosshard Berne Declaration Switzerland

John Kunzli Bruno-Manser-Fonds Society for the Peoples of the Rainforest Switzerland

Richard Gerster Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations Switzerland

Mensah Todzro Les Amis de la Terre Togo

Borys Vasylkivsky EcoPravo-Kyiv Ukraine

Serghiy Fedorynchyk

Zeleny Svit (Green World) Ukraine

Larry Lohmann The Corner House United Kingdom

Frances Carr Down to Earth United Kingdom

Saskia Ozinga FERN United Kingdom

Stuart Wilson Forests Monitor United Kingdom

Marcus Colchester Forest Peoples Programme United Kingdom

Georgina Green Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland United Kingdom

Nick Buxton Jubilee 2000 Coalition United Kingdom Ross Nockles Reforest The Earth United Kingdom

Patricia Feeney Rights and Accountability in Development Oxford University United Kingdom

Maurizio Farhan Ferrari World Rainforest Movement UK Office United Kingdom

Nick Mabey World Wide Fund for Nature United Kingdom

Atossa Soltani Amazon Watch USA

Soren Ambrose Alliance for Global Justice USA

Anthony Rose Biosynergy Institute USA

Dana Clark

Center for International Environmental Law USA

Terence Turner Professor of Anthropology University of Chicago USA

Bruce Rich Environmental Defense Fund USA

Prof. Bela Liptak Editor Environmental Engineers’ Handbook USA

Mark Goldberg Federal Land Action Group USA

Andrea Durbin Friends of the Earth USA

Daphne Wysham Institute for Policy Studies USA

Juliette Majot International Rivers Network USA

Usmaan Raheem Ahmad Kashmir Environmental Watch Association USA

Pat Rasmussen Leavenworth Audubon Adopt-a-Forest USA

Janet Gottschalk Alliance for Justice Network Medical Mission Sisters USA

April 1, 1998

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