GCPF lives its partnership commitment through environmental and social (E&S) workshops

A series of regional E&S workshops concluded in May, with 22 partner representatives from nine countries gathering to learn and exchange about social risk management topics in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The workshop was the third in a series of regional workshops – the other two taking place in Lima, Peru and Mumbai, India – that reached 80 representatives of the Global Climate Partnership Fund (GCPF) partner Financial Institutions (FIs), who exchanged and built a community of practice. Topics covered by the Tbilisi workshop included operational health and safety, reporting and investigating serious incidents, compliance with exclusions lists while giving out loans, compiling robust internal and external grievance mechanisms, managing labour relations, and putting in place adequate measures to prevent gender-based discrimination and harassment at their workplaces.

The event was attended by participants from Mongolia to Rwanda. Despite differences in market environments, client segments, levels of exposure to environmental and social risks, and varying experience with the subject matter, the partner Financial Institutions exhibited great enthusiasm throughout the two-day event, actively engaging in discussions.

Nomin Tsogtsaikhan, Senior E&S risk officer at XacBank (Mongolia) shared her experience of working on an E&S tool developed jointly with GCPF as a result of a previously hosted GCPF E&S workshop. She expressed her appreciation for the interactive workshop style and its focus on social risks:

“We predominantly focus more on environmental risks while social risks generally get less attention and are more sensitive to handle. Some of our customers are small enterprises and they typically don’t have the capacity to adhere to international standards. As we face increasing competition from digital lenders that do not apply such demanding requirements, I appreciated learning in this workshop how to address these challenges. We are happy for the longstanding partnership with GCPF as it helps us to continuously improve and learn.”

Mariam Tovmasyan is Compliance and Sustainability Manager at Ardshinbank in Armenia. GCPF supported the bank in building an E&S risk management system from scratch: “I’m proud to say that today we have an E&S policy and E&S considerations are integrated into the risk assessment process. Trainings were critical for us to understand how to apply E&S risk management in practice. I am excited to attend this training because the workshop focuses directly on social risks which often have been secondary in other trainings. I hope we can continue to work with GCPF to deepen our understanding on best practices related to contract management in the value chain based on real business cases. “

A recurrent topic of discussion among workshop participants was that environmental and social laws are often not fully enforced in emerging markets by local regulatory agencies, leaving financial institutions in the position of enforcing E&S requirements that are widely disregarded by market participants. Another challenge faced by many financial institutions is lack of internal capacity, particularly among small and medium enterprises, in enhancing their social safeguard measures. Engaging with clients on the relevance of these measures is of the utmost importance to GCPF and this is why the Fund offers respective trainings for client relationship officers. Knowledge sharing and capacity building are key to the GCPF partnership and are often viewed as a welcomed support, especially for new partners, as Didace Habamenshi, E&S Safeguard Specialist at the Development Bank of Rwanda expressed:

“In my role as E&S Safeguard Specialist I coordinate the E&S related aspects of my financial institution. We have multiple international lenders that expect us to comply with international standards and I was curious to come to this workshop to learn about GCPF’s E&S requirements. I appreciated the workshop because it offered me an opportunity to advance my knowledge on the topic. For instance, I will be more attentive to investigating labour and working conditions during upcoming client visits. Our partnership with GCPF could also be integral in helping us to build practical skills on other climate finance related topics in a similar way to this workshop.”

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