The EIB met NGOs and other civil society organisations (CSOs) on 9 November in Lisbon to discuss the way it assesses the economic and social impact of projects that are considered for Bank funding (http://www.eib.org/about/events/eib-workshop-with-csos--lisbon.htm). The Workshop took place in the framework of the European Union’s Development Days conference and is part of the Bank’s ongoing dialogue with civil society, which includes annual Spring and Autumn Workshops with CSOs on topics of common interest. The agenda for these meetings is set jointly by the EIB and interested CSOs, with speakers from both sides.
Chaired by EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive, the Lisbon meeting focused on the Bank’s Economic and Social Impact Assessment Framework (ESIAF), which was launched as a pilot initiative in 2005 and has been tested over the last two years for projects in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Since September this year ESIAF, a systematic framework that formalises the existing monitoring and evaluation undertaken by the Bank, has been applied across all projects outside the EU. The EIB hopes that the feedback received from civil society in this type of dialogue will contribute to the continuing development of these indicators, which are already being honed by experience.
Specialist Bank officials gave a number of short presentations setting out the general background to ESIAF, how it was developed and how it currently works. Of the three invited speakers, Uchita de Soysa of the Centre for Environment and Development in Sri Lanka gave a view from the developing world. He argued that although improvements could be made in the Bank’s approach, it was on broadly the right track towards promoting sustainable development. “The EIB can play a critical role in setting the dialogue within the financial sector and its borrowers,” he said.
Dr Christopher Wright of the Center for Development and the Environment at the University of Oslo gave feedback based on his recent study of the EIB’s internal operating handbook for social and environmental assessment. Miguel Coutinho of the International Association for Impact Assessment shared ideas on how the EIB could best align the ESIAF with other international development standards and goals.
The presentations spurred broader discussion among EIB and CSO participants on a range of topics related to the Bank’s developmental role in many of its operations outside the EU and as a result of the Workshop, operational follow-up is planned between the Bank’s operational staff and the external specialists. Vice-President de Fontaine Vive welcomed the open and constructive debate and hoped this could be continued with a wider spectrum of CSOs.
More details on ESIAF the EIB’s internal handbook for social and environmental assessment can be found on the Bank’s website.