The export Development Agency is autonomous, functions like a corporation and is entirely owned by the Canadian government 1 . The EDC financially supports companies with the aim of developing the Canadian export market and to profit from the possibilities and opportunities offered by the international marketplace 2 . The EDC has implemented a complaints mechanism which is run by the compliance officer.
What are the issues that can be dealt with?
Although human rights standards are not mentioned anywhere in its statute or its regulations, the eCD has implemented a declaration covering its social responsibilities 3 . The five main principles governing social responsibility are embedded in the organisation’s policies and, in a nutshell, they cover the following:
- Business Ethics: establishment of a code of conduct, code of business ethics and an anti-corruption program;
- Environment: EDC is committed to the environment by facilitating and encouraging exports of Canadian environmental solutions to review the environmental impacts of prospective projects;
- Employee Engagement; and
- Community Investment
Every year since 2004, the agency publishes an annual report concerning its corporate social responsibility (CSR). The agency has established a consultative Council which is in charge of advising the agency on its CSR and helps to improve its social and environmental practices.
EDC adopted a “statement of commitment on human rights ” in which the agency affirms its respect for human rights and recognises the need to be coherent with Canada’s international obligations, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the necessity for financial institutions to evaluate potential negative impacts of their activities on human rights 4 . The agency furthermore confirms that it will undertake impact assessments to evaluate the impact of its projects on human rights. EDC uses international standards in its review of prospective clients, including the IFC performance standards and the equador principles. However it remains unclear wether EDC requires that its clients comply with these standards. 5 Unfortunately the EDC does not make its methodology or results public 6 . EDC is been criticized for funding numerous controversial projects 7 .
Who can file a complaint?
Any individual, group, community, entity or other party “can request a review on issues relating to EDC’s public disclosure of information, environmental reviews, human rights and business ethics. If a request is being made on behalf of another party, that group should be identified and evidence of authority to represent that group provided.
Under what conditions?
There is no particular deadline for filing a complaint. The complaint must be in writing in either English or French.
Process and outcome
“EDC’s Compliance Officer (“CO”) provides a mechanism for resolving complaints either through dispute resolution and mediation or through a compliance audit to determine if EDC is following its corporate social responsibility practices and policies. Within a “reasonable” amount of time, the Compliance Officer will let you know whether your complaint is eligible. If eligible, the Officer will use a preliminary assessment to determine which method to use to handle the complaint (such as dialogue, facilitation or negotiation). If the issue is not resolved, the Compliance Officer can make a recommendation to EDC’s Board of Directors about future action that should be taken to address the concerns raised in the complaint. If a compliance audit is recommended, the audit will be performed by the EDC’s internal auditor or an external third party at the oversight of the Compliance Officer. 8 ”. The Compliance officer can decide to end the dispute if he or she considers that the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.
The Compliance officer can also make recommendations to the Board of Directors and become in charge with the follow up of their implementation.
Recommendations made by the Officer are not binding on EDC. However, the Compliance Officer reports quarterly to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of EDC on the highlights of recommendations made during the quarter and the status of these recommendations. According to the official website 9 . The Compliance officer can decide to end the dispute if he or she considers that the matter has been resolved satisfactorily. The Compliance officer can also make recommendations to the Board of Directors and become in charged with the follow up of their implementation. According to civil society actors, such as Above Ground EDC’s due diligence process remains inadequate.