NGO BankTrack zooming in on Equator Banks

BankTrack 2012 Annual ReportBankTrack, a networked NGO, continuous to position itself as a watchdog of the Equator Principles. According to its recently launched 2012 Annual Report, BankTrack is expecting to provide a platform for NGOs to pursue Equator Principles-related complaints.

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BankTrack was “underwhelmed” when the updated Equator Principles (EPIII) were launch in June 2013. It lamented the lack of an accountability mechanism in EPIII, an idea which could perhaps also be approached from an assurance angle (Should Equator Banks use Assurance?).

The process adopted by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), a mining industry club, provides an interesting model. Since 2010, ICMM has conducted an annual assessment of member performance against their commitments using the GRI reporting framework the associated "+" assurance requirement (see also here).

In its Annual Report, BankTrack notes that it will pick up a number of “iconic projects” which, according to BankTrack, have no place in a sustainable world. These are the usual suspects: coal power plants, nuclear power plants, large dams, oil projects, and a more recent addition to the club: palm oil plantations situated in primary forest areas. Examples of BankTrack’s advocacy initiatives include campaigns against the Deutsche Bank, (financing arms manufacturers, nuclear companies), ANZ (financing coal and oil) and several European Bank (“land grabs” in Uganda).

Even leveraged by/leveraging 40 member and partner organizations, and supported by savvy  social media campaigns, tackling all Equator Banks seems like a tall order for an umbrella NGO like BankTrack. Its 2012 budget was only about EUR400,000 (about US$ 530,000). This funding came from four groups: Oxfam Novib (EUR100,891, based in the Netherlands), Adessium Foundation (EUR 100,000, based in USA), CS Mott Foundation (EUR90,575, based in USA), Sigrid Rausing Trust (EUR76,817, based in the UK) and JMG Foundation (EUR25,300).

Do you feel that networks like BankTrack have been able to create some real traction and combining fragmented landscape of advocacy NGOs to become real game changers? Or is the ‘market’ of watchdog NGOs and their umbrella groups focused on (Equator) Banks starting to get a bit crowded?

Interested in learning more about the Equator Principles (EPIII) and IFC Performance Standards? Click here here for courses offered by Prizma.