Committed to its corporate mission of promoting sustainable development anchored on good governance, LANDBANK has institutionalized in its internal lending operations a policy that requires all Bank-financed projects to be environmentally sound and compliant with applicable environmental laws & regulations through the Credit Policy Issuance (CPI) Nos. 2004-02 and 2009-002.
These policies were further improved and expanded to include not only environmental risks assessment but also climate change vulnerability and social risks assessments on all LANDBANK- financed projects through the Administrative Order No. 26 Series of 2018 (AO 26 s.2018) entitled as “Enhanced Environmental and Social Safeguards Policy Relative to Credit Delivery” issued on March 6, 2018.
Further policy enhancements were made through the issuance of Executive Order No. 98 on August 21, 2020 superseding AO 26 s.2018. These policy amendments further improved and updated the systems and methods; parameters of reporting in terms of identification, assessment, mitigation, monitoring of environmental, climate change and social risks, as well as environmental and social (E&S) benefits of projects financed by the Bank.
Considering threats of the Covid 19 pandemic to the health and safety of the Bank personnel and clients from the conduct of Environmental and Social Assessment (ESA) that requires travels, actual project site visits, and face-to-face interviews, the Bank issued Executive Order No. 107, Series of 2020 allowing EPMD to implement ESA through Interim Approaches or Online/Remote Assessment utilizing the available telecommunication facilities, online search engines and environmental assessment tools. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Bank, through EPMD, has accomplished a total of 446 E&S project assessments or 97% of the projects scheduled for environmental and social performance monitoring for CY 2020, bringing a total of 5,168 project assessments made since Program implementation in 2004.
These projects financed by the Bank have complied with basic environmental and social laws, rules, regulations, and standards. A total of 391 or 88% projects have implemented environmental programs or initiatives while 304 or 68% have addressed occupational health and promoted safety awareness in the workplace. It is noteworthy to mention that no account/project was issued a DENR Cease and Desist Order due to environmental violations. This can be attributed to the effective and efficient implementation of EO 98 and EO 107, continued focused group discussions with the Bank’s Account Officers and Account Assistants in the provincial Lending Units, and information dissemination through the e-learning training program wherein the Bank’s clients were strongly encouraged and assisted to comply with the environmental and social laws and regulations and implement various best practices in E&S management by the EPMD personnel, concerned handling AOs/AAs and their Lending Center Heads. Through ESDD, clients are encouraged to implement environmental program awareness and initiatives as well as made aware of social issues in their respective workplace.
Along with the issuance of EO 107, EPMD also conceptualized and developed a total of 17 ESDD Standardized Evaluation Tool (SET) for ESA of major industries financed by the Bank to expedite report preparation. This standardized tool served as a guide/ready reference in the conduct of ESA and aimed for efficiency and uniformity in report preparation, among others. The Bank will continue its effort to align its existing policies, rules and regulations with the BSP Circular 1085, s. of 2020 or the Sustainable Finance Framework and be compliant with international standards like the Equator Principle and World Bank, JICA, and Green Climate Fund standards, among others.
For CY 2020, the Bank’s ESDD Program has been selected among the contenders to successfully bag the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards Certificate of Merit on Outstanding Sustainable Project Financing Category.