Environment - Export Development Canada (EDC)
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Home > Home > About Us > Corporate Social Responsibility > Environment and People

Environment and People

We are committed to the environment - from facilitating exports of Canadian environmental solutions to reviewing the environmental impacts of projects that we consider supporting.

Environmental and Social Risk Management Framework

We understand that there are environmental and social risks involved in the business we support, and that it is critical to have strong procedures to identify and reduce the potential negative impacts.

Our Environmental and Social Risk Management Framework guides all of our business and is further underpinned by various international agreements and standards. The Framework consists of our Environmental and Social Risk Management Policy, Environmental and Social Review Directive (ERD), and Disclosure Policy.

The first two components work hand in hand; the Policy establishes the principles we follow when assessing the environmental and social risks of a transaction and the ERD establishes the specific processes. Our Disclosure Policy establishes our guidelines for providing information to the public. For more information, see Disclosure.

Review of EDC’s ESRM Policy Framework

EDC is inviting interested stakeholders to provide feedback during the review of its environmental and social risk management policy framework.

Frequently asked questions about our environmental review

Do we evaluate environmental and social risks of non-project related transactions?

Yes. For non-project related transactions we conduct an environmental risk review, where we look at factors such as country, track record, scale, sector and environmental management capacity of the client, to provide an overall assessment of environmental and social risk. For these reviews we use information sources such as subscription databases, public information and corporate environmental reporting. The outcome of the environmental risk review is risk rating (e.g. high, medium or low) which helps guide the decision making process for the transaction.

How do we categorize projects?

Early in the project review process, we categorize projects based on their potential for adverse environmental effects, which then determines the nature and scope of the environmental review and the documentation required. Categorization can depend on many factors, including the scale and nature of the project and its potential impact. Factors include whether the project: is greenfield or an expansion of existing facilities; is encroaching on environmentally sensitive areas; could result in the loss of a natural habitat; will affect vulnerable or indigenous groups or involve resettlement; or will affect a cultural heritage site. During the initial stages of the review we may change the original categorization if new information becomes available however this is not common. We follow common international practice and categorizes projects as follows:

  • Category A: Likely to have significant adverse environmental effects that are sensitive, diverse or unprecedented. Effects may extend beyond the project site and may be irreversible, or the project may be planned to be carried out in a sensitive location.
  • Category B: Environmental effects are less adverse than the potential effects of Category A. Effects are usually site-specific; few if any are irreversible; and in most cases mitigation measures can be designed more readily than for Category A.
  • Category C: Likely to have minimal or no adverse environmental effects and an environmental review beyond categorization is not required. 

How do we benchmark projects against international standards?

Our Environmental Advisory Services department benchmark projects to international standards. They review the potential environmental and social impacts of a project and determine whether the impact is at acceptable levels, based on their judgment and in accordance with international standards. We refer to the World Bank Group's standards and guidelines to conduct project reviews. Project finance transactions are benchmarked against the IFC Performance Standards as referenced in the Equator Principles and the OECD Common Approaches. Non-project finance transactions are benchmarked against World Bank Safeguard Policies and related guidelines. If other International Financial Institutions (IFIs) are involved in a project we are reviewing, we may also use the standards of these institutions as benchmarks. If a transaction meets international standards, it can be supported by EDC.

Does EDC ever turn down transactions for environmental reasons?

Yes. If a transaction poses an unacceptable environmental risk, we will decline support. These transactions are most often screened out early in the business development cycle.

Many projects have a legal obligation to conduct public consultation. Do we evaluate public consultation?

Yes. Our Environmental and Social Risk Management Review Directive spells out what we expect in terms of public consultations. For Category A projects, we require that culturally appropriate consultations are conducted with communities that might be affected by a project, and that the results of these consultations are taken into account during the environmental assessment of the project. We then evaluate the documentation of these public consultations to ensure our expectations and international standards are met.

How do we review projects located within G7 countries?

We consider projects located in G7 countries to meet or exceed international standards. The main focus of these reviews is to ensure that the project is designed in compliance with host country environmental requirements.

What types of environmental covenants (legal obligations in financing and insurance documents) do we require for projects?

Recommended covenants that establish the project’s environmental commitments vary on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of the project and the outcome of the environmental review. We normally confirm that a project is in compliance with the host-country laws and regulations through warranties and representations. Examples of other project requirements include conformance to international standards, timely reporting of environmental incidents and accidents, and submission of annual monitoring reports. Generally, environmental monitoring requirements are expected for Category A projects but may also be recommended for Category B.

How does EDC monitor the projects that it supports?

The Sponsor (borrower) is responsible for providing project reporting. To ensure projects are constructed and operated as designed, project monitoring generally involves reviewing the sponsor’s annual monitoring reports and relevant project environmental documentation such as quarterly project reporting and any updated environmental management/action plans. We, or an independent consultant, may also perform a site visit. After reviewing these reports, our Environmental Advisory Services department provides its opinion on the project’s environmental compliance or identifies potential environmental issues that may have arisen.

Where non-compliance with a reporting requirement occurs, or where we are made aware of environmental non-compliance issues, we first seek to resolve the issues through the borrower/client by having them undertake corrective actions.

International Commitments

To help incorporate environmental risk assessment into officially-supported export credits, we adopted and implemented the OECD Recommendation on Common Approaches on Environment, an international multilateral consensus on environmental review practices that aims to level the international playing field and ensure that projects supported by Export Credit Agencies meet established international environmental standards.

We also adopted the Equator Principles, a financial industry benchmark for determining, assessing and managing social and environmental risk in project financing and made the IFC Performance Standards our dominant standard for environmental and social project performance in developing countries.

Our annual report on the implementation of the Equator Principles is now available.

Climate Change

Climate change is one of our three CSR strategic priorities. A key feature of our Environmental and Social Risk Management Framework commits EDC to:

  • engaging with its clients to understand and assess the carbon and climate risks and opportunities associated with their business;
  • evaluating climate change risks at a project level to ensure they incorporate technically and financially feasible and cost-effective options for mitigation and adaptation to climate change; and
  • expecting proponents of Category A and B projects to provide estimates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, consistent with IFC Performance Standards and using established methodologies such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

EDC Support Coal-Fired Electricity Generation Projects (CFPSU)

In 2015, the participants to the OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits agreed to new rules limiting export credit support for new coal-fired power plants (CFPPs).   These rules came into effect January 1, 2017.  Further to this agreement, EDC has implemented a new policy regarding its support for CFPPs.

As of January 2017, EDC will not finance the development of new CFPPs in designated countries unless equipped with carbon capture and storage or equivalent emissions reduction technology.   For all other countries, EDC will not support projects that constitute or include the construction and commissioning of new coal-fired power plants, unless in EDC’s opinion the specific requirements of the OECD Sector Understanding on Coal-Fired Electricity Generation and international benchmarks such as the IFC Performance Standards and the World Bank environmental, health and safety guidelines, are met. This position also applies to financing for new industrial projects, if powered by captive CFPPs, even if the financing is not specifically earmarked for the captive plant.

EDC will consider support to existing CFPPs, on a case-by-case basis, provided that the support is for facility modernization, resulting in lower CO2 emissions.

For more information about EDC’s support of CFPP’s please contact 1-800-229-0575.

Human Rights

We value and promote the protection of internationally recognized human rights, consistent with the policies of the Government of Canada. Our screening mechanisms, pre-signing due diligence and ongoing project monitoring help ensure that Canadian companies conduct their international operations to universally acceptable standards.​

EDC Statement on Human Rights

EDC values human rights and provides its financing and insurance services with a view to the promotion and protection of internationally-recognized human rights. Investment projects may have potentially significant impacts on the human rights of individuals. EDC recognizes that financial institutions must endeavour to assess the potential for adverse human rights outcomes for individuals directly affected by such projects.

Valuing and Promoting the Protection of Human Rights

EDC is a wholly-owned arm of the Government of Canada that operates in a manner consistent with the Canadian government’s policies. EDC receives public policy guidance from the Government of Canada with respect to Canada's international obligations, such as those elaborated in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further to a memorandum of understanding signed in 2002, the Government shares intelligence with EDC on the human rights situation for a wide range of countries.

Recognizing Factors that Impact Human Rights

EDC's Political Risk Assessment Department routinely conducts country- and project-level political risk assessments that include an analysis of factors that influence human rights conditions in host countries. An additional layer of due diligence will be undertaken for investment projects and countries assessed to have a higher potential for human rights issues. This supplementary analysis may include an examination of factors such as the country's socio-economic dynamics, history of conflict and site-specific issues such as security, location and relations with local communities. These assessments take into account a range of external indicators including the World Bank's Country Governance Indicators, Minority at Risk data, Freedom House's Freedom of the Press and Civil Liberties ratings and conflict data from the University of Maryland's Center for Development and Conflict Management, among others.

Identifying Best Practices for Financial Institutions

EDC recognises the evolutionary nature of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, and actively monitors the international discussion of human rights issues. EDC also draws on the collective experience of the distinguished Canadians who comprise its Advisory Council on CSR. In terms of the field of assessment of potential human rights impacts, EDC is committed to working with the Government of Canada and other stakeholders to identify emerging best practices and to incorporate into its due diligence those practices that are relevant to the mandate of a financial institution.

2015 CSR Annual Report

Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Report

Doing better together. Read more in our Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Report.

Read about our partnership with CARE Canada and our volunteers in Peru, Zambia and India