Safeguards for IKI projects

IKI funding areas. Photo: IKI

IKI funding areas. Photo: IKI

Since 2017, the German Environment Ministry’s International Climate Initiative (IKI) has been applying a systematic safeguards approach for its projects. Safeguards are environmental and social standards aimed at safeguarding people and the environment from unintended negative impacts in line with the ‘do-no-harm’ principle.

Since 2008, the IKI has supported more than 500 projects on climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation in developing countries, emerging economies and countries in transition with a funding volume of around EUR 2.3 billion. Many of these projects run in difficult societal settings in terms of rule of law, working conditions or the participation of minorities. In light of the extent of the investments and measures involved, impacts on particularly vulnerable persons (such as marginalised groups) and the environment (ecosystems, for example) are to be taken into consideration.

For example, during a climate change adaptation project in response to flooding and sea level rise, the question of whether the planned measures increase the risk of resettlements, particularly of marginalised population groups, might come up. If so, how can the risk be managed? Another example might involve a project promoting electromobility, which – in line with safeguard criteria – must now describe measures including how to ensure proper, green disposal of batteries after their operating life has expired.

From the IKI’s perspective, such precautions make sense in order to systematically avoid the potential negative consequences of projects. This ensures that the effectiveness of IKI projects is not adversely affected. Furthermore, applying the safeguards will help boost the quality of projects and contribute to establishing an overarching sustainability agenda. The IKI is using the normative framework of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) safeguards (interim IFC Standards) as a guide in this process.

Implementing organisations are now required to comply with these environmental and social standards when planning and carrying out IKI projects. Activities that pose a significantly high environmental or social risk with irreversible consequences must be avoided entirely. A risk assessment based on the GCF standards is to be carried out in the context of project planning. If a potential risk is identified, corresponding measures to reduce, monitor and manage risks must be incorporated into the project concept. Implementing organisations that do not have their own safeguards system or expertise can attain assistance for the risk assessment from IKI’s Programme Office in the framework of project planning. 

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