E&S Strategy and Policy
The mission of BIO is to support a strong private sector through investments in developing and/or emerging countries, to enable them to gain access to growth and sustainable development aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
BIO’s investments include direct investments in enterprises or infrastructure projects and indirect investments through financial intermediaries or private equity funds. For BIO, ensuring and promoting the environmental and social sustainability of its investments operations is an essential part of its contribution to sustainable growth.
Successful sustainability outcomes depend on joint efforts from BIO, its clients and often third parties. The E&S Strategy and Policy document presents BIO’s environmental and social commitments, the principles we apply and how they are translated into our investment process and operational activities.
This Policy is part of a broader development & sustainability universe at BIO. Indeed, BIO also acts on achieving sustainable development through a set of other mechanisms, mainly: contribution to SDGs, impact measurement, good governance and responsible tax principles, the grievance mechanism, technical assistance as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. This E&S Strategy & Policy therefore should be considered in conjunction with BIO’s internal procedures, position statements, BIO’s investment strategy and Theory of Change.
Increasing employment and ensuring decent work for all are essential aspects of sustainable development, and part of BIO’s mandate. In line with its Theory of Change, BIO has committed to progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with particular emphasis on SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Indeed, local economic growth and related direct job support are amongst the key objectives of most of BIO’s investments. In developing countries, the private sector is responsible for providing the vast majority of jobs, with an estimated 600 million more needed in Africa and Asia due to population growth. Much of this job creation will come from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for 66 percent of permanent, full-time jobs in these countries.
At the end of 2020, BIO investees employ over 115,000 workers directly. Indirectly, 7.5 million jobs were supported – many of them through financial institutions, and 40% of them held by women. In addition, the investees of the funds BIO invested in directly employed 160,000 workers and indirectly supported an extra 3.5 million.
The quality of these jobs matters for development: Low-paying, informal, and vulnerable jobs do not have the same impact as jobs that pay well, are in a formal setting, and have good working conditions. People in vulnerable jobs often have lower productivity, fewer rights, and less protection.
The concept of Decent Work, developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), implies an integrated approach to development and economic growth that considers both quantity and quality of jobs and that employment opportunities for the poor are accompanied by rights, decent working conditions, representation and social protection. For BIO, the Decent Work approach is based on International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 2 (IFC PS2), as well as on local laws, the ILO Core Conventions, the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the Basic Terms and Conditions of Employment. When regulations differ, projects are expected to achieve whichever is more stringent.
This Policy clarifies the concept of decent work and how BIO integrates a decent work approach throughout its activities. It should be read in parallel with BIO E&S policy and strategy.
In 2021, there were disquieting reports about forced labour concerning the Uyghur minority in China. This raises many questions about how to deal with the risk of investing in projects involving solar panels.
BIO vehemently condemns any use of forced labour in any of its investment projects, and in any of the supply and off-taker chains of these projects, and will communicate this position in all relevant relations with (potential) clients and other stakeholders. BIO will favour the creation of fully transparent alternative solar panel supply chains so that any risk of forced labour can effectively be excluded. BIO will keep itself informed on the development of such alternatives and will support them with investments and technical assistance. Moreover, BIO will seek to align itself with European DFIs, IFC and the World Bank Group on a joint policy to address the risk of forced labour in solar panel supply chains.