The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Home / case studies / Case study: The European Investment Bank’s (EIB) strategies and initiatives to support sustainable employment and growth in Europe

Case study: The European Investment Bank’s (EIB) strategies and initiatives to support sustainable employment and growth in Europe

As the bank of the European Union, the EIB steps up its response to the changing economic conditions that occurred as a consequence of the 2008 global financial crisis. It does so through a range of policies and initiatives aimed at boosting jobs and growth in Europe in the face of a debt and investment crisis.

This case study is based on the 2014 Sustainability Report by the EIB published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing.

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In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, supporting sustainable employment and growth in Europe is a matter of crucial importance for the EIB as the EU bank, as it lies at the heart of Europe’s economic revival. In order to support sustainable employment and growth in Europe the EIB took action to:

  • finance strategic new projects
  • offer technical assistance and advisory services via a European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH)
  • support innovation and skills through initiatives such as InnovFin (between 2014 and 2020 it is expected that the InnovFin products will make available more than EUR 24bn of financing for research and innovation) and
  • provide access to finance for smaller businesses – in 2014 the EIB Group financed SMEs and midcaps in Europe to the tune of EUR 25.5bn

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2014 Sustainability Report the EIB identified a range of material issues, such as social, environmental and governance due diligence, combating fraud and corruption within projects, the transparency of the EIB’s decision-making and governance processes and impacts, ensuring human rights are respected and protecting the rights of vulnerable individuals and groups, promoting the right to access information. Among these, in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and in the face of a major debt and investment crisis in Europe, supporting sustainable employment and growth in the EU stands out as key.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups the EIB engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Other EU institutions
Individual EU member states
Companies in the financial and business sectors
Organisations in civil society
Employees
Project promoters
Dealers

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

  • The EIB consulted with a wide range of stakeholders at the end of 2013 and throughout 2014, using a third party to conduct the materiality survey, to ensure impartiality when speaking with all stakeholders and give the EIB a clear and balanced picture of its material aspects.
  • The EIB conducted an internal consultation with employees, selecting representatives from all relevant EIB Group operational entities. Interviews (both face-to-face and telephone interviews) were conducted, eliciting views from EIB staff members on what they considered to be the most material and relevant environmental, social and governance aspects for the Group.
  • At the end of 2013 the EIB distributed an online survey to civil society organisations. Responses were received from non-governmental organisations, business associations and federations and think-tanks.
  • The survey was adapted for project promoters and dealers and sent to everyone on the EIB’s Project Promoters and Dealers contact list in October 2014. Responses to the survey were received from 119 external stakeholders from a cross section of the 28 EU Member States. To ensure parity and comparability, the survey questions were designed to mimic the questions asked during the internal materiality interviews.

What actions were taken by the EIB to support sustainable employment and growth in Europe?

In its 2014 Sustainability Report the EIB reports that it took the following actions to boost jobs and growth in Europe:

  • Financing strategic new projects
  • 26 November2014: the EIB Group and European Commission announced the Investment Plan for Europe. The financial arm of the plan involves the creation of a new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), managed by the EIB Group, which will mobilise no less than EUR 315bn of additional investment in strategic projects for Europe during the next three years.
  • Additional targeted support for projects is pursued through a number of initiatives such as “Jobs and Skills – Investing for Youth” and the roll-out of trade finance facilities and programmes for midcaps (companies with up to 3,000 employees).
  • Offering technical assistance and advisory services
  • The European Commission and the EIB have agreed to provide an integrated advisory offer to the public and private sectors through a European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) in order to strengthen and accelerate investment. EIAH will aim to:
    • provide a single point of entry for project preparation and implementation, use of financial instruments as well as capacity-building
    • bring together existing advisory programmes and activities and develop new or extended services to cover unaddressed or increased needs
    • establish a unique cooperation platform to make available and share the existing expertise within the EC, the EIB, National Promotional Institutions (NPIs) and Managing Authorities
  • Supporting innovation and skills
  • 2014: the EIB Group provided EUR 14.7bn in finance for this area in the form of loans, equity and guarantees.
  • Projects that support the EIB’s drive to develop innovation and skills in the EU concentrate on promoting education and skills, accelerating innovation and supporting the digital economy, by:
    • backing vocational and other training schemes
    • financing investments in research, technology development and innovation across the board
    • investing in telecoms infrastructure throughout Europe
  • The EIB’s financing products in this area include both traditional medium and long-term loans and indirect support through credit lines to local banks or other intermediaries.
  • InnovFin: launched in June 2014, InnovFin is a joint initiative of the EIB Group and the European Commission and consists of a new generation of financial instruments and advisory services aimed at helping innovative firms.
    • Between 2014 and 2020, it is expected that InnovFin products will make available more than EUR 24bn of financing for research and innovation by small, medium-sized and large companies and the promoters of research infrastructure.
    • InnovFin products also include advisory support. InnovFin Advisory takes two forms:
      • guiding clients on how to structure their research and innovation projects so as to improve their access to finance. The EIB advises clients on how to make the most of their strong points and adjust elements such as their business model, governance and funding sources.
      • improving conditions for access to finance, such as developing a business case for new financing mechanisms and preparing studies on improving the effectiveness of financial instruments
  • Providing access to finance for smaller businesses
  • [tweetthis]2014: the EIB Group financed SMEs and midcaps in Europe to the tune of EUR 25.5bn[/tweetthis], with a further EUR 2.6bn benefiting SMEs around the globe.
  • The EIB Group has two main priorities in this area:
    • provide constant and affordable access to finance because smaller businesses can face difficulties accessing finance. In 2014, the EIB Group supported 285, 000 SMEs and midcaps in Europe sustaining 6 million jobs.
    • mobilise additional financing for the real economy by diversifying its product range. To maximise the impact of its support for micro-enterprises, SMEs and midcaps, the EIB joins forces with the European Commission, Member States, public promotional banks and others in order to boost access to finance and improve financing conditions for SMEs across Europe.
  • The European Investment Fund (EIF): it supports Europe’s micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) by improving access to finance by means of a wide range of selected financial intermediaries across Europe.
    • The EIF supported 175,000 SMEs and midcaps in 2014, improving the availability of risk capital to build and grow their businesses.
    • The EIF’s equity activity includes all of the main stages of SME development.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicators/Standards addressed in this case are:

1) G4-EC1: Direct economic value generated and distributed – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 201-1 Direct economic value generated and distributed

2) G4-EC8: Significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 203-2 Significant indirect economic impacts

 

References:

1) This case study was compiled using published information by the European Investment Bank (EIB) which is located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses but made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original please revert to the following link:

http://www.eib.org/attachments/general/reports/sustainability_report_2014_en.pdf (2014 Sustainability Report by EIB)

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

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