Today, Export Development Canada (EDC) became the country’s first commercial banking institution to release a dedicated human rights policy built on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). 

Human rights abuses are real. They are not limited to specific sectors or regions, but happen every day, across the globe when, for example, people are forcibly evicted from their homes, their water sources contaminated or are not paid fair wages. Around the world, more than 40 million people are victims of forced labour, human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, according to the latest figures from the United Nations. 

As Canada’s Export Credit Agency, EDC exists to help Canadian companies of all sizes succeed on the world stage. Human rights-related risks—as well as environmental, political and economic risks—can compromise their reputations, increase liability and affect their social license to operate. EDC, like other financial institutions providing support to companies, can be connected to these risks and, therefore, has a meaningful and critical role to play in identifying, preventing and addressing them. 

“EDC has always taken a strong position on human rights, bringing a lens of sustainable and responsible business to our transactions, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement,” said Mairead Lavery, President and CEO of EDC.

“Put simply, this new policy will help us do better which is incredibly important, not just for EDC, but for the sectors and companies we work with. It will provide clarity to our customers and partners around the world on where we stand as we work to help Canadian companies do business in some of the most challenging markets in the world.”

EDC has for years integrated human rights into the due diligence it undertakes on all transactions. The Human Rights Policy now codifies that work, and better aligns the organization with the United Nation's guiding principles (mentioned) above and international best practices. That alignment will help shape EDC’s business decisions to better manage human rights risks more actively. 

In developing this new policy, EDC engaged with Shift, a non-profit organization and the leading centre of expertise on the UN’s guiding principles.

EDC’s Board of Directors approved this policy in February, alongside the Environmental and Social Risk Management Policy (ESRM), and the Environmental and Social Review Directive. All three resulted from the ongoing Environmental and Social Risk Management policy framework review launched in early 2018.

EDC’s Climate Change Policy, also a product of the framework review, was released in January.

Please see the attached backgrounder for more information on these policies and the ESRM policy framework review.

About EDC

Export Development Canada (EDC) is a financial Crown corporation dedicated to helping Canadian businesses make an impact at home and abroad. EDC has the financial products and knowledge Canadian companies need to confidently enter new markets, reduce financial risk and grow their business as they go from local to global. Together, EDC and Canadian companies are building a more prosperous, stronger and sustainable economy for all Canadians.

For more information and to learn how we can help your company, call us at 1-800-229-0575 or visit