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Published on July 26th, 2016 | by admin

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ENVIRONMENTAL, OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY AND SOCIAL ISSUES KEY FOR LOAN APPROVALS

THE DEVELOPMENT BANK OF NAMIBIA RECENTLY CREATED AN ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT SECTION WITHIN THEIR RISK AND COMPLIANCE DEPARTMENT TO EVALUATE AND SCRUTINISE LOAN APPLICATIONS. BRIGITTE WEIDLICH SPOKE TO THEO UVANGA, WHO HEADS UP THE NEW SECTION

As a responsible Corporate Citizen owned by the Namibian government the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) is expected to be in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations that impact its business. The responsibilities of the Environmental and Social Development Section is therefore to ensure that all projects funded by the bank are in compliance with its environmental and social requirements as stipulated in the DBN Environmental and Social Management System (ESMS). This will assist the DBN to avoid and/or manage loans with potential environmental and social risks by formalising, implementing and maintaining the requirements of environmental, occupational health and safety, climate change and social due diligence before loan disbursement whilst maintaining supervision of projects during life-span of the loan agreement. While the DBN has focused on conducting sustainable business since inception, no formalised environmental and social policy framework and system had been in place. According to Theo Uvanga, who was appointed in January this year to manage the new section, “If the DBN wants to apply for loans from international lenders, for instance from the African Development Bank or the Green Climate Fund, the criterion, amongst others, is that borrowing institutions must have such a functional section or department in place.” According to Uvanga, the DBN has fulfilled all requirements of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and is busy with accreditation to the Green Climate Fund. “In fact, all businesses and development finance institutions that obtain loans from international finance institutions such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is the investment arm of the World Bank, the AfDB and the GCF must meet these requirements,” said Uvanga. “One cannot separate business from compliance to environmental, occupational health and safety, social matters like gender, employment creation, marginalised communities or health risks to the population in a project area and until recently lending institutions had mainly looked at financial performance of companies applying for loans.” In 2015 the DBN created a consultative team to draw up its environmental and social policy, which the AfDB requested to be in place and for the department to be established. The policy was signed off in June last year. The new post was advertised in mid-2015 and Uvanga took up his DBN post six months ago. “We have now developed and localised the standards for environmental, occupational health and safety and social performance for our clients and we incorporated them into the DBN ESMS. Once this is approved by the DBN board, an intensive staff training process will ensue, followed by the ESMS implementation slated for the beginning of August 2016,” Uvanga told Insight. The section will ensure that transactions (both debt funding and equity investments) are reviewed and evaluated against the requirements of the DBN Environmental and Social Management (ESMS) Policy Framework and Standards and also to comply with other Namibian laws. After loan approval, clients must submit monthly reports once they start implementing their projects. The DBN will also do regular site visits, inspections and audits of clients operations. According to Uvanga, the new section was created to reduce  credit, liability and reputational risks to the DBN. “If companies with DBN loans fail to adhere to the environmental, occupational health and safety and social criteria, they might get penalties, sanctions and non-compliance certificates from government ministries and the directorates. This will impede a particular project’s ability to operate and to generate an income to honour their loan repayments to the DBN. The DBN aims to support, advise and encourage its clients to operate within the legal framework and keep loan defaults to an absolute minimum, as the bank’s reputation also to its international lenders should not be at stake.” The 39-year-old Uvanga holds a BA Administration from the University of Namibia. He has a sustainable community development and environmental management background, gained with his first job with Oxfam Canada in the Omaheke Region. He obtained an MA in Human and Sustainable Development at the University of Leeds, as well as holding a Certificate in Application of Environmental Risk and Theory. Uvanga has considerable experience having worked for the Namibia Development Trust (NDT), where he implemented the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme and socio-economic justice projects under the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP). He worked closely with the Namibian Non-Governmental Organisations Forum (NANGOF) in the socio-economic justice sector taskforce and was part of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) coalition. He also acted as a GCAP Africa Policy Consultant for the GCAP Africa Secretariat in Senegal, as an Environmental Advisor for Rio Tinto’s Rössing Uranium Mine, and Environmental Manager for Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb on the Tsumeb smelter turnaround strategy, as well as an Environmental Superintendent for Swakop Uranium before joining DBN.

THE DBN’S ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT SECTION OPERATES IN LINE WITH THE STIPULATIONS OF GOVERNMENT GAZETTE NO. 4878 ESPECIALLY;

• Government Notice No. 28 Commencement of the Environmental Management Act, 2007;

• Government Notice No. 29 List of activities that may not be undertaken without Environmental Clearance Certificate: Environmental Management Act, 2007;

• Government Notice No. 30 Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations: Environmental Management Act, 2007;

• And the Labour Act No 11 of 2007 and its Regulations relating to the Health, Safety and Welfare of employees at work;

• As well as international funders’ requirements should these requirements be more stringent than Namibia’s legal requirements.
TO THAT END ALL LOAN APPLICATIONS SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS

1. Environmental and Social Impact Assessment study (Only for listed activities);

2. Environmental and Social Management Plan (For all applications);

3. Environmental Clearance from the Office of The Environmental Commissioner’s Office within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (Only for listed activities).


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