Following approval of new EIB Environmental and Social Statement on 3rd February 2009, the Bank  conducted a review of the structure of the Projects Directorate with the objective to strengthen the EIB's capacity to deliver sustainable projects.

The changes agreed by the Management Committee focus on the establishment of the Environmental and Social Office (ESO), which replaces the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU).

ESO will provide, as a Bank-wide source of guidance, expert advice and support on environmental and social matters.

Organised along three work streams - environment, social issues and climate change, each associated with a dedicated Working Group - ESO will focus on enhancing the environmental and social quality of the projects financed by the Bank, as well as the mainstreaming of climate change and other environmental issues. A number of social specialists are being recruited to reinforce this structure.

The new entity will be headed by Mr. Peter Carter, Associate Director. ESO reports to the Director General of the Projects Directorate (PJ), Mrs. Grammatiki Tsingou.

ESO in particular is responsible for:

  • updating the Environmental and Social practices of the EIB according to EU requirements and to any new development in this field;
  • refining its environmental and social policies accordingly and ensure its implementation;
  • providing advice and support selectively on projects financed by EIB;
  • chairing and monitoring the dedicated three Working Groups;
  • acting as an EIB-wide source of expertise on environmental and social matters, and
  • organising training and awareness raising programmes for EIB staff.

The three Working Groups are chaired by the Head of ESO and their responsibilities are described below:

  1. The Environmental Assessment Group (ENVAG):

    • is a permanent group of experts within the Projects Directorate (PJ)
    • comprises senior engineers and economists specialised in the sectors of transport and other infrastructure, energy, telecommunications, waste management, industry and services, mining and health. High level representatives from other Directorates are also being invited to participate to the meetings, as well as all members of ESO
    • is responsible for helping ESO to develop and to promote the application of the Bank's environmental policies and procedures throughout the project cycle
    • provides a source of advice on specific environmental matters in PJ
    • reviews the environmental aspects of PJ reports
    • provides a platform for technical discussion and debate
    • gives advice on training and awareness raising needs in environmental, legal and biodiversity issues
    • has an ENVAG member assigned to each EIB project that is appraised by the PJ (distinct from the normal project team that remains responsible for environmental work on a specific project). He/she supports the environmental assessment carried out by members of the project team and provides a quality control function.

    ENVAG is coordinated by Mrs. Eva Mayerhofer, Environment Specialist.

  2. The Social Working Group  (SWG):

    • provides advice to ESO on strategic issues regarding social development policy advancement
    • provides a platform for technical discussion and debate
    • gives advice on training and awareness raising needs in social assessment of projects

    SWG is coordinated by Mrs. Evelin Lehis, Social Development Specialist.

  3. The Climate Working Group  (CWG):

    • provides advice on ways and tools to efficiently integrate mitigation and adaptation, footprint and climate risk management into EIB's projects
    • assists on building a climate change strategy
    • assists in providing technical assistance facilities to some projects
    • provides a platform for technical discussion and debate
    • gives advice on training and awareness raising needs in specific climate-related issues in assessment of projects

    CWG is coordinated by Mr. Andrea Pinna, Lead, Climate Change.

Reinforcing the strengths of the existing organization

The new arrangements draw on internal as well as external expertise and resources, as appropriate. A key role is played by the Projects Directorate (PJ), which consists of about 90 high level sectoral specialists with international experience. These people have technical, analytical, sector and subject specific environmental and social skills. They integrate environmental and social issues in their work, covering the areas of infrastructure, energy, waste management, industry, services and telecommunications.

PJ is responsible for the technical appraisal of projects, including assessing environmental and social implications of an investment, in particular that a satisfactory impact assessment has been carried out and appropriate measures are to be implemented. All EIB supported projects are assessed from an environmental and social point of view. The provision of an EIB loan in the European Union and the Enlargement Countries is conditional on the project promoter meeting all relevant national and EU environmental and social legislation. Elsewhere, EU standards are used as a benchmark for judging a project's environmental and social acceptability for the Bank.

The PJ sector specialists do not work in isolation; they form part of multidisciplinary appraisal teams with colleagues from other disciplines (notably financial and legal experts). The full integration of the various disciplines in these teams has resulted in a solid professional record.


The new structure will bolster the Bank's support for promoting the European Union's sustainable development policy, particularly in the field of environmental sustainability and social well-being. It will ensure that all activities funded by the Bank take environmental and social considerations into account in an optimal manner and provide the basis for EIB's value added service on environmental and social matters.

The role of EIB's sector specialists with environmental and social expertise in the Project Directorate and their participation in the multidisciplinary appraisal teams helps to strengthen the integration of environmental and social considerations in the appraisal procedures and the overall project cycle.