EBRD Preparing to Issue Discussion Paper on Disclosure

5 October 2007

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is very close to putting out a "discussion paper" as a first step in a review of its Public Information Policy (PIP) and inviting public comments, according to an EBRD official.

The information policy review is being done in parallel with an ongoing review of the EBRD’s environmental policies, and both will be the subject of consultation meetings. The aim is to complete both policies by the time of the EBRD annual meeting in May 2008.

The discussion paper on the PIP should be released "very soon," meaning "weeks not months," the official said. It will not make specific proposals for change, the official said, but rather will identify the issues generally and invite reactions.

The first day of the planned outreach meetings will focus on the environmental proposals, which include some disclosure-related elements. The second day will be about the PIP. They were to have begun in October, but have been somewhat delayed, and there are no set dates at this time.

In addition, there will be a 30-day public comment period, after which the staff will prepare a draft policy.

That draft policy will be posted in advance of the public consultations, although it will not be subject to another round of written comments, the official said. Nongovernmental organizations have asked for two commenting stages.

Environmental Proposal Addresses Disclosure

The issues paper on environmental policy emphasizes that the two topics be considered together, suggesting that the environmental disclosure rules be integrated into the PIP.

It states: "The EBRD Public Information Policy (PIP, 2006), refers to the 2003
Environmental Policy for requirements related to disclosure of environmental and social information. However, the current Environmental Policy is not as clear as it could be as to what these disclosure requirements are. The Bank now suggests that the PIP be revised to include all commitments related to the Bank’s disclosure of information, including environmental and social information, and to include more clarity on confidentiality. The PIP would then contain all EBRD-related disclosure requirements, whilst the new Environmental and Social Policy would set out the consultation and disclosure obligations of the client. This would avoid confusion for clients and other stakeholders, and clarify the applicability of important PIP components such as the definition of confidentiality and the appeal mechanism."
The issues paper raises substantive disclosure issues. For example, it suggests, "One issue for clarification is to separate the sponsor’s responsibilities for community engagement (be it disclosure of information, consultation or dealing with grievances) throughout the project cycle from EBRD’s own disclosure requirements." The issues paper goes on to identify a variety of possible options.

Comments on the issues paper were due in early July.

Bankwatch Urges More Disclosure

The idea of integrating the disclosure requirements was supported by the CEE Bankwatch Network in its comments.

The group also suggested numerous specific disclosure improvements. This section of the comments began: "As a majority of project-specific environmental information produced during the project cycle remains confidential, the PIP needs to be expanded to include a robust set of disclosure requirements for the EBRD."

CEE Bankwatch continued: "In order to more fully balance its dual mandate, the EBRD should continually provide project information to stakeholders both before and after Project Summary Documents (PSD) are released, and prior to the project completion evaluations of the Evaluation Department. The PIP should include disclosure requirements for environmental information produced throughout the project cycle, including the initial phases of project preparation and appraisal, and the latter stages of implementation and completion."

Making a pitch for broad reform of the PIP, the group also stated: "One way to achieve substantive increases in transparency of operations during the project cycle is for the EBRD to adopt a genuine presumption in favour of disclosure. Such a presumption was advocated during the recent revision of the PIP, and while the bank has made some important steps in this direction, it still has some areas in which to progress further towards openness."

By Toby McIntosh

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: freeinfo@gwu.edu or
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