Next steps in operationalizing and implementing the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement of October 2016 (IMVO Covenant) in the core investment process.
FMO, the Dutch development bank, launched new policy (“Position Statements”) that will embed and implement broad measures to identify and respect human rights in investment projects. This effort is the next concrete step in respecting of human rights following the signing of the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement a year ago, when the Dutch banking sector agreed to increase their responsibility to respect human rights in their investment activities.
Jürgen Rigterink, CEO FMO, “Human rights are a top priority for FMO. As we invest in the most challenging and fragile economies, we are more likely to face human rights challenges in our projects. Our new policy builds on valuable feedback from our stakeholders and we are thankful for their constructive input. Next step is to implement effective processes across our investment cycle so we can walk the talk on human rights.”
The Bank announced that it will increase its dedicated resources, broaden its focus to explicitly and systematically address human rights in due diligence and across the investment process, step up structural dialogue with key stakeholders and prepare to report on human rights performance as of 2018.
Measures to implement the new Position Statements include:
- Implementing protocols on contextual risk assessment for highest risk projects, looking at risks to civil, labor and political rights, those associated with land and other natural resources, as well as issues related to security, conflict and corruption.
- Introduction of an early warning system for risk of oppression or violence towards human and environmental rights defenders and those opposing projects FMO invests in, as well as human rights risks related to land acquisition and natural resources.
- Strengthening measures to systematically verify broad community support and Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) from people that might be significantly impacted by FMO investments, for example by requiring the organizations to which FMO lends to consult in a meaningful manner with anyone that may be affected by the project
- Piloting Human Rights Risk Assessments to understand if, how, when and where these assessments may add additional information to existing ESIA (Environmental and Social Impact Assessment) approach, with regards to potential human rights risks and how to mitigate these.
FMO, as a development bank, adheres to the IFC Performance Standards, which remain the primary standard in guiding client relationships. Since 2013, FMO has been upholding the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). In addition, last autumn, FMO signed the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement on International Responsible business conduct regarding human rights (IMVO).