News Column

USAID/ IBEX Hold Environmental Impact Assessment Training

June 18, 2014

Mae Azango Azama

The USAID Liberia's investing for Business Expansion Program (IBEX), began a series of training workshops on "Environmental Compliance System" for local staff, select partner banks' staff and local environmental consultants at the Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia.

"IBEX works with banks to lower their risks for lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in seven program sectors. These include Agribusiness, Clean Renewable Energy, Infrastructure, Construction, Transportation/Logistics, General Merchandise/Trade and Hospitality. According to the organizers, IBEX and Bank staff will also be provided explanation and training on the new environmental management system (EMS) to ensure that they understand the system," said IBEX Chief of Party, Mrs. Watchen Harris Bruce at the opening of the workshop.

The training, organized with support from USAID to IBEX, international environmental specialist, Mr. Ethan Myer was the main facilitator who topics included general environmental impact assessment (EIA) theory and practice as well as USAID's Regulation 216 Environmental Procedures.

The interactive forum with questions and answers, brought together many participants from the banking sector and other facets of the private sector and started with introduction of participants and their places of work followed presentation by facilitator Myer.

Speaking to journalists, participant Edna Urey-Jennings, Sales and Business Development Officer of International Bank-Liberia Limited, said the seminar would help her get an understanding of what clean environment is and how clean energy works.

"The workshop would also help us understand the risks involved in giving loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and how to deal with our customers," she said.

Mrs. Jennings further stated that at the end of the workshop, she would be able to explain in clear terms the bank's policy on the environment to customers and to help customers make good decisions about their business environment.

As for Mr. Mohammed Dukuly, Country Risk Manager of Ecobank-Liberia Limited, he said the workshop is important to him because in today's world, environmental risks assessments are very crucial to credit decision.

"When making credit decision, deciding on whether to lend to a particular customer or not, we have to make sure that that customer is working in the confines with the environment, for example the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). If we are going to finance a person that is doing construction, we have to make sure that the person has got EPA permission, the workers are fully protected and the environment is protected, as well," he stated.

Dukuly pointed out that on the overall, the workshop would help participants, who were only drawn from Ecobank and International Bank, to make "sound credit decisions in dealing with our would-be borrowers".

"I hope our customers will understand that keeping the environment clean and safe is good for their businesses and everyone."

Mrs. Bruce said while in the country Mr. Myer will also meet with the banks to understand their current assessment procedures, which will guide the development of an Environmental Compliance System for IBEX and the partner banks. And that the system is expected to be used for environmental screening and management that apply to their USAID's Development Credit Authority (DCA)-backed portfolios.

"Mr. Myer and the bank staff will jointly develop an effective monitoring system used to make periodic determinations on the implementation and effectiveness of the EMS. There will also be individualized training and resource dissemination with local environmental consultants who IBEX, an SME or any of the banks can utilize for assessments of larger scale projects that trigger Liberian EIA requirements. These local environmental consultants will provide guidance and expertise on sensitive or complex environmental issues."

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Source: AllAfrica

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