Comments to draft JBIC new Env. Guidelines



See the drafting process up to now

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has released its draft Environmental Guidelines and invites comments until February 20. Based on the recommendations of Independent Committee in which FoE-Japan participated, the JBIC draft pauses stronger environmental requirement on borrowers (including governments of borrowing countries), and proposes to disclose environmental information of projects under review for the first time.

However, we are very disappointed that many critical recommendations of the Committee were undermined, wordings of the Committee were significantly weakened, and that JBIC gives no detailed provisions regarding such as information disclosure or independent compliance mechanism. In particular it is totally unacceptable that JBIC only states that "JBIC endeavors to disclose information in a manner to allow enough time before decisions are made on funding", giving no details about timing and duration of disclosure!! Still this draft has already received so much criticisms for being "too radical" from corporations and Ministry of Foreign Affairs which handles ODA loans.

We ask for your support to put pressure on JBIC to set meaningful guidelines with clear-cut provisions, fully accepting recommendations of the Independent Committee.

The provisional English translation of the draft guidelines are available at:

http://www.jbic.go.jp/autocontents/japanese/news/2001/000125/EnglishGuidelines.pdf

You may send your comments to   kankyo-pc@jbic.go.jp, with your name, organization and contact address.

Below are some of comments that FoE-Japan forwarded to JBIC for your information.

● "Preface" and "Basic Policies" weakened

Wordings of the draft are vague and weaker than those of Recommendations of the Independent Committee which said that JBIC should "undertake its operations in accordance with the promotion of "sustainable development", as well as principles, conventions, and agreements both environmental and human rights." Wordings of "Basic Policies" are also weakened (basic policies regarding confirmation), suggesting that JBIC still hold tight the position that JBIC is NOT the subject to consider environment and social issues.

●Independent Review Committee

The JBIC draft gives no attention to the Independent Committee's recommendation to establish expert committee for accountable review of projects with large potential impacts or controversial projects.

●Review Procedures of FI and other forms of lending

JBIC gives no specific provisions regarding review procedures of financial intermediaries and other forms of projects such as projects with multiple phases, co-financed projects and engineering services.

●Information Disclosure

JBIC fails to give specific provisions regarding contents, timing and duration of disclosure of project information. While it states that "JBIC endeavors to disclose information in a manner to allow enough time before decisions are made on funding", one cannot be sure that necessary information is available when project details are still flexible. That will actually gives little chance for NGOs to influence decision making process. JBIC should have further consultations with NGOs on procedures of disclosure according to different types of lending. Also, results of environmental review should be disclosed before contracts are made.

●Weak Monitoring and Follow-up

Although the draft says that Category A and B projects are monitored, it gives no specific measures or procedures as to how it will conduct environmental monitoring and follow-up activities. At least for ODA loans, there should be more detailed provisions of monitoring and evaluation measures. Monitoring reports should be also disclosed.

●Compliance Mechanisms

JBIC does not state clearly about setting of independent compliance mechanism where grievances of non-compliance are received and inspected due to pressures from private sector and a part of government. Though details should be further discussed, a need for independent and accountable body with strong authority should be mentioned clearly. JBIC also fails to consider internal compliance mechanism such as independent monitoring unit that should play critical roles.

●Environmental requirements for projects

JBIC draft does not give environmental standards or good practices that are accepted internationally and be used for environmental review of the JBIC. Although they are already refering to safeguard policies guidelines of the World Bank and other international guidelines, those should be made public. Also JBIC should have further consultations with NGOs to set separate policy and guidelines on each issue such as resettlement, indeginous peoples, gender, and dams.

See the drafting process up to now