Press Release - Saturday, December 22, 2001

NGO Coalition calls for policy to be re-drafted following a public comment period
For immediate release
Ottawa, December 22, 2001  Export Development Canada (EDC)’s new environmental policy fails to meet industry standards for environmental protection set by the World Bank and US export credit agencies, says a Canadian coalition of non-governmental organizations. EDC’s Environmental Review Directive was released yesterday.  
“EDC’s new environmental policy is full of loopholes which will allow EDC to carry on business as usual”, says Pamela Foster, Coordinator of the Halifax Initiative, which hosts the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation. 
The new environmental review directive allows EDC to support a project that has known adverse environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated. In contrast, other public financial institutions have categorical exclusions, as well as environmental thresholds defined in their environmental policies. 
The directive also allows EDC to choose from a wide range of environmental assessment standards, some quite weak, for different transactions. There is no requirement for EDC to disclose what environmental standard was applied to a specific transaction. The NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation recommended that EDC choose one standard to be applied to all projects, for consistency, rigour and methodological clarity. 
Even EDC’s new commitment to disclose environmental and social information gathered on the most sensitive projects prior to EDC’s approval comes with its own loophole. EDC will disclose this information only if its client is a “significant” project sponsor, however, significant is not defined.
“EDC has indicated through this new policy that it remains prepared to sacrifice the environment to save the deal”, says Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada. “It also leaves the fox in charge of the henhouse”. 
In May 2001, the Office of the Auditor-General reviewed EDC’s previous environmental policy and found that it failed to implement it correctly in 24 of 26 projects audited. 
Although EDC is accepting comments for 60 days on the new Directive, it is not a draft policy and no plans are in place to revise the directive based on public comment.
For more information: contact Pamela Foster, 613-266-8100.