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Strengthening Environmental and Human Rights Protection at Export Development Canada

Strengthening Environmental and Human Rights Protection at Export Development Canada
Kinross Gold’s Morro do Ouro mine. Kinross is a repeat EDC client. Photo credit: Justiça Global, 2014.

Canada’s export credit agency is reviewing its environmental and social risk management policies. Given the agency’s repeated support for companies facing credible allegations of human rights abuse, environmental damage or other serious harms, such a review is long overdue.

In this submission to Export Development Canada (EDC), we call for major reforms to EDC’s due diligence processes and its public reporting. In brief, our primary concerns and recommendations are as follows:

  • EDC’s overarching environmental and social commitments are weak and in many cases ambiguous, particularly in regards to human rights. The agency should commit to protecting the environment and all internationally recognized human rights in all of its business decisions.
  • It is unclear how EDC screens the vast majority of its clients for environmental and human rights risks and what preventive measures, if any, it will require as a condition for support. The agency’s due diligence processes have repeatedly failed to screen out companies whose operations have caused serious harms. EDC should strengthen its policies and practices to ensure that all prospective clients are rigorously assessed and that those posing significant risks do not receive support.
  • The agency discloses very little information about how it monitors its clients’ compliance with relevant laws, standards and any conditions included in their contracts with EDC. It should strengthen and clarify this process and commit to retracting support from clients in breach of environmental or human rights obligations.
  • To assess whether EDC is exercising its discretion wisely and in a manner that is consistent with Canada’s international commitments, its decisions about particular clients must be subject to public scrutiny. EDC should publish more detailed information about its transactions and, upon request, disclose to the fullest extent possible information about how and why it decided to support a given company.

Each of these points is examined in further detail in our submission, accessible in PDF format below.

The recommendations made in this submission are endorsed by the following organizations:

  • Amnesty International Canada
  • Canadian Council for International Co-operation
  • Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability
  • Committee for Human Rights in Latin America
  • Friends of the Earth Canada
  • Inter Pares
  • Maquila Solidarity Network
  • Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
  • MiningWatch Canada
  • Social Justice Connection
  • United Steelworkers

See our comments on EDC’s climate change policy in this separate submission.