5. Information disclosure
JBIC Guidelines for Confirmation of Environmental and Social Considerations

Here are JBIC's answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Environmental Guidelines.


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5.1Q. What is the concept upon which the provisions pertaining to information disclosure in the Environmental Guidelines is based?
5.2Q. Environmental Guidelines state "JBIC endeavors to achieve further disclosure of information by encouraging project proponents". Especially, what information do you endeavor to disclose?
5.3Q. Are information disclosure provisions of the Environmental Guidelines in line with the Common Approaches?
5.4Q. Where does information disclosure under the Environmental Guidelines stand in relation to information disclosure of under the "Act Concerning Disclosure of Information Possessed by Independent Administrative Institutions" (the "Information Disclosure Act")?
5.5Q. How did JBIC disseminate information on the preparations and content of the Environmental Guidelines to the domestic public?
5.6Q. Based on the Environmental Guidelines, what kind of information regarding individual projects is made available to the public on the JBIC website?
5.7Q. Will the name of the project company be disclosed as part of information disclosure?
5.8Q. Isn't it inappropriate to exempt some information from disclosure on the ground of business confidentiality?
5.9Q. What is the timing of information disclosure on the screening information?
5.10Q. Given the provision, "It endeavors to make such disclosure well in advanced of decision-making" (Environmental Guidelines Part 1 Section 5-(2)2)) at what timing will decisions be made?
5.11Q. How long are disclosure periods for the results of screening and environmental reviews for projects?
5.12Q. Will ESIA reports on Category A projects be disclosed in Japan as well?
5.13Q. In Section 5-(2) of Part 1 of the Environmental Guidelines, there is a clause which states, "documents other than ESIA reports and permit certificates… obtained from the borrowers and related parties for confirming environmental and social considerations". What kinds of documents does this refer to?
5.14Q. In many cases, the local residents affected by the project have no access to the JBIC website. How can these people obtain information on the project?
5.15Q. Can't the findings of environmental reviews be disclosed at an early date?
5.16Q. Why doesn't JBIC make available to the public ex-ante evaluation reports for the projects?
5.17Q. Will the details of the financing agreement be made public after its signing?
5.18Q. Is any information disclosure stipulated in the Environmental Guidelines, relating to monitoring?

 

5.1Q. What is the concept upon which the provisions pertaining to information disclosure in the Environmental Guidelines is based?

A. The provisions on information disclosure in the Environmental Guidelines were established in order to strike a good balance between two principles: information disclosure and maintaining business confidentiality. Disclosure of information is very important for ensuring that the project proponent is sustainably implementing and managing considerations for the environment and society, and for JBIC to ensure accountability in the applicable funding activities. On the other hand, for example, in an industrial plant project, a special production process embodies significant proprietary corporate knowledge, and therefore in private business in particular, adequate considerations for its confidentiality are required.

5.2Q. Environmental Guidelines state "JBIC endeavors to achieve further disclosure of information by encouraging project proponents". Especially, what information do you endeavor to disclose?

A. JBIC endeavors to achieve further disclosure of information regarding environmental consideration, including translations of ESIA reports in Japanese and English versions or the monitoring result by project proponents

5.3Q. Are information disclosure provisions of the Environmental Guidelines in line with the Common Approaches?

A. The provisions on information disclosure in JBIC's Environmental Guidelines are in line with the Common Approaches. For example, the Common Approaches state the disclosure of environmental information such as ESIA for category A projects in advance of funding decisions and the disclosure of environmental information after funding decisions such as "subject to the legal provisions on public disclosure in Members'countries, Members should make available to the public at least annually environmental and social information on projects classified in Category A and Category B".

5.4Q. Where does information disclosure under the Environmental Guidelines stand in relation to information disclosure of under the "Act Concerning Disclosure of Information Possessed by Independent Administrative Institutions" (the "Information Disclosure Act")?

A. JBIC determines whether or not it should disclose information it possesses under the Information Disclosure Act, upon request from the public for disclosure.
In contrast, under the Environmental Guidelines, JBIC provides, on its own, important information on screening and environmental reviews, thereby increasing the transparency of its business operations as well as encouraging third parties including related agencies and stakeholders to provide information. This will help materialize and expand the intentions of the Information Disclosure Act.

5.5Q. How did JBIC disseminate information on the preparations and content of the Environmental Guidelines to the domestic public?

A. The Environmental Guidelines is available not only by a pamphlet in head office of JBIC but also on its website.
In confirming the appropriateness of environmental and social considerations for individual projects, the following information is provided at the time of screening: project name, country, place, project outline, sector, category classification and the reasons for classification. After signing the agreement of loan and investment, the results of environmental reviews are made available at the JBIC website, and JBIC plans to continue actively disclosing information in this way.

5.6Q. Based on the Environmental Guidelines, what kind of information regarding individual projects is made available to the public on the JBIC website?

A. The following information will be disclosed on the JBIC website before the signing of a loan agreement: project name, country, location, an outline and sector of the project, and its category classification, as well as the reasons for that classification (Section 5-(2), Part 1). For Category A and Category B projects, JBIC publishes on its website the status of acquirement of the ESIA reports and environmental permit certificates issued by the host government or other appropriate authority and promptly makes the ESIA reports, etc. available on the JBIC website.
Other documents obtained by JBIC from the borrowers and related parties for confirming environmental and social considerations (resettlement action plans, including where necessary, livelihood restoration plans, or indigenous peoples plans, etc., depending on the project), and the status of acquirement of such documents are promptly made available on the JBIC website, if they are available to the public in the host country.
After executing an agreement of loan and investment, JBIC provides the results of its environmental reviews and screening on the website, so it is possible to view the basis on which JBIC conducted its decision-making, from the information supplied relating to environmental and social considerations.
However, JBIC pays due consideration to the confidentiality of the commercial and other matters of the borrowers and related parties, taking into account the competitive relationships of private businesses.

 

5.7Q. Will the name of the project company be disclosed as part of information disclosure?

A. Information disclosure covers: "project name, country, location, an outline and sector of the project, and its category classification, as well as the reasons for that classification." The name of the specific project company will not be disclosed, as this is often regarded as commercially confidential information.

5.8Q. Isn't it inappropriate to exempt some information from disclosure on the ground of business confidentiality?

A. Regarding the projects conducted by private companies under market competition, it is essential in reflection of this fact, to make considerations for business confidentiality. For example, in an industrial plant project, a special production process is a significant asset and source of competitive strength, and therefore deserves special considerations for its confidentiality.
Thus in disclosing information, JBIC feels it is important to strike a balance between the principles of information disclosure and business confidentiality, and only proceed with active disclosure after recognition of this fact.

5.9Q. What is the timing of information disclosure on the screening information?

A. Regarding the timing of disclosure for screening information, the Environmental Guidelines stipulate "It endeavors to make such disclosure well in advance of the decision-making." (Section 5-(2) 2), Part 1) Based on this, the information is disclosed as promptly as possible following a tentative decision on category classification.
For JBIC to make the aforementioned category classification, the screening form has to be submitted by the borrower. The screening form is submitted when the following two conditions are fulfilled: a loan request has been submitted to JBIC; and adequate information may be obtained to conduct screening.

5.10Q. Given the provision, "It endeavors to make such disclosure well in advanced of decision-making" (Environmental Guidelines Part 1 Section 5-(2)2)) at what timing will decisions be made?

A. The timing when "decisions are made on financing" corresponds to the time at which an agreement of loan and investment between JBIC and the borrower is signed.

5.11Q. How long are disclosure periods for the results of screening and environmental reviews for projects?

A. It is difficult to set a uniform disclosure period for the screening information of projects. This is because JBIC gets involved in projects at different timings and there is the need to respond flexibly to development in private business deals.
For Category A projects that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact, however, JBIC draws on examples of other countries and is thus making an effort to disclose information on screening results for about 45 days. No disclosure period is set for results of environmental reviews.

5.12Q. Will ESIA reports on Category A projects be disclosed in Japan as well?

A. Information on whether JBIC obtained ESIA reports required for Category A projects or not is available on the JBIC website. In addition, ESIA reports themselves may be made available after appropriate steps have been taken, including excluding portions touching on commercially confidential information.

5.13Q. In Section 5-(2) of Part 1 of the Environmental Guidelines, there is a clause which states, "documents other than ESIA reports and permit certificates… obtained from the borrowers and related parties for confirming environmental and social considerations". What kinds of documents does this refer to?

A. There are a variety of possible names, contents and formats, depending on the characteristics of each project.
This is not an exhaustive list, but documents considered here could include, for example, environmental management plans, resettlement action plans, including where necessary, livelihood restoration plans (in projects in which large scale involuntary resettlement or large scale loss of means of livelihood occurs), and indigenous people's plans (in projects which have an effect on indigenous peoples).
In the event that translations of such documents, including the ESIA report, etc., are obtained from the borrowers and related parties, these are also applicable.

5.14Q. In many cases, the local residents affected by the project have no access to the JBIC website. How can these people obtain information on the project?

A. JBIC's methods of disclosure are not limited to the use of the website. The Environmental Guidelines stipulate, in Section 1 (5) of Part 2, that conducting "sufficient consultations with stakeholders" at the project site is one of the basic principles of environmental and social considerations required for JBIC-financed projects. In this way, JBIC ensures adequate disclosure of information to the local residents.

5.15Q. Can't the findings of environmental reviews be disclosed at an early date?

A. In some projects, based on the results of environmental reviews, the financing agreement may include conditions having important bearing on environmental and social considerations. From this point of view, JBIC discloses the findings of environmental reviews as soon as possible after the signing of a financing agreement, whereby JBIC informs to the external world that it has formally made a loan commitment.

5.16Q. Why doesn't JBIC make available to the public ex-ante evaluation reports for the projects?

A. The summary of environmental reviews conducted by JBIC will be made public after an agreement of loan and investment is signed.

5.17Q. Will the details of the financing agreement be made public after its signing?

A. JBIC actively makes public, information pertaining to environmental and social considerations in accordance with the Environmental Guidelines. However, its confidentiality obligation as a financial institution prevents JBIC from disclosing financing agreements.

5.18Q. Is any information disclosure stipulated in the Environmental Guidelines, relating to monitoring?

A. The Environmental Guidelines set forth in Section 5 (2)3) "Information disclosure after signing of loan agreements" of Part 1 that "For Categories A and B projects, result of monitoring conducted by project proponents to the extent they are made public in the host country", while in Section 1 of Part 2 it states that "It is desirable that project proponents make the results of the monitoring process available to project stakeholders," thus encouraging project proponents to take action.