The Equator Principles: The Private Financial Sector’s Attempt at Environmental Responsibility
The Equator Principles are a set of voluntary environmental guidelines created to manage environmental degradation that results from large-scale developmental projects in the Third World. On June 4, 2003, ten private financial institutions adopted these guidelines, and by the end of 2006 this number had grown to forty. Moreover, in June 2006 the Principles were revised, raising the level of scrutiny for companies that adhere to these guidelines.
At first blush, the adoption of the Equator Principles by private financial institutions appears to be a substantial step toward implementing environmental standards in developing countries that lack adequate regulations. However, three years after their inception, debate as to whether the Principles are actually spurring environmental change remains. This Note analyzes whether the Equator Principles are having a positive impact and achieving their stated goals related to the local environment in developing countries. This Note concludes that, despite a great deal of uncertainty regarding their real impact, the Equator Principles clearly have improved the situation by placing the private sector in a proactive environmental role and strengthening the public’s ability to hold the financial sector accountable for its actions.