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IFC Report Lights Path for Finance Sector to Capitalize on Sustainability

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has released a new report outlining the organization's best practices for integrating sustainability into its products, services, and investment choices. According to its 2005 Sustainability Report, entitled Choices Matter, nearly one-third of IFC employees were involved in these efforts in FY05 and 70% of clients surveyed said IFC adds value to their businesses through knowledge and support in good corporate governance, social, and environmental sustainability.

The report also shows how the largest investor in private equity in developing countries is using its unique position and resources to respond to global challenges such as climate change, poverty, corruption, HIV/AIDS, women in private sector development, and the preservation of biodiversity.

"We utilize our resources and expertise in a way that minimizes the risks while maximizing the opportunities to drive sustainable development where it is needed the most," says Rachel Kyte, director of the Environmental and Social Development Department at IFC. "We take our responsibilities very seriously, and hold ourselves accountable in those areas where we can control outcomes. Fundamental to this is continued engagement with affected stakeholders to ensure that all concerns are considered."

IFC has emerged as a global standard setter on environmental and social development for financial market institutions and the private sector. The corporation's environmental and social safeguards, recently updated, have become a recognized model of good practice among other financial institutions. In 2003, they were adopted as the basis for the Equator Principles, a framework for commercial financial institutions to use when investing in development projects with a capital cost of $50 million or more. As of February 2006, 41 banks had adopted the Principles, and it is estimated that they now cover approximately 80% of global project lending.

Highlights of the new report include:
  • IFC's new environmental and social standards

  • A step-by-step explanation of IFC's Investment Cycle, indicating how sustainability and development goals are integrated into decision-making

  • An analysis of how IFC deals with the "supervision challenge" when ensuring environmental and social sustainability in its investments

  • A "project anatomy" showing how IFC worked hand in hand with a client to improve the environmental, social, and financial performance of their business

  • An overview of IFC's response to climate change, including the first-ever assessment of IFC's investments in sustainable energy through its mainstream portfolio ($221 million in FY05)

  • Progress on IFC's commitment to manage its own social and environmental footprint by reducing waste, greening its energy use, and reaching out to communities
Assurance for the report was provided by The Corporate Citizenship Company.

Download the report or request hard copies online.

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