The USAID Liberia’s Investing for Business Expansion Program (IBEX) Tuesday, June 17, began a series training workshops on “Environmental Compliance System” for its local staff, select partner banks’ staff and local environmental consultants. The training, organized with support from USAID to IBEX, is being facilitated by an international environmental specialist Ethan Myer.
Topics at the one-day’s event included general environmental impact assessment (EIA) theory and practice as well as USAID’s Regulation 216 Environmental Procedures.
Mr. Myer, who is in the country for at least two weeks, is expected to meet with the banks in order to understand their current assessment procedures which will guide the development of an Environmental Compliance System for IBEX and the partner banks.
“The system is expected to be used for environmental screening and management that apply to USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA)-backed portfolios,” Ms. Watchen H. Bruce, Chief of Party of IBEX, said.
IBEX works with banks to lower their risks for lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in seven program sectors, including 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.
At the end of the series of the workshops, it is expected that the Environmental Specialist, Mr. Myer, and the bank staff will jointly develop an effective monitoring system, which would be used to make periodic determinations on the implementation and effectiveness of the EMS.
Journalists were also told that 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 environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements. These local environmental consultants will provide guidance and expertise on sensitive or complex environmental issues.
Speaking to journalists, 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 IB Bank sales officer also stated that the workshop would also help them understand the risks involved in giving loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and how to deal with their customers. She 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, said 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 confine with the environment, for example the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). If we are going to finance a person that 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 stated 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.”
About Environmental Specialist
Ethan Myer is an environmental scientist with over 10 years of technical experience focused on regulatory environmental compliance, remedial construction oversight and environmental impact assessment. Mr. Myer is currently a candidate for the Master of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.