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Protecting the Environment While Fighting Poverty

April 30, 2015

By Jonathan Nash , Chief Operating Officer

Jonathan Nash

Jonathan Richart, MCC’s Global Practice Leader for Environmental and Social Performance, presents on MCC’s approach to integrating environmental  and social performance into its investments at the International Association for Impact Assessment’s annual conference.

This morning I was honored to accept on MCC’s behalf an award from the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) recognizing MCC’s ongoing leadership and commitment to environmental stewardship.  I’m here at IAIA’s annual conference with over 1,000 other environmental and social assessment professionals from around the world.

It’s been an inspiring few days. Hearing from the world’s leading experts on approaches for identifying and managing environmental and social risks and opportunities confirms for me that in many ways MCC is on the cutting edge of international best practice. But it also has reinforced that there is more MCC could be doing to achieve better results on the ground, such as more effectively using geospatial data in our work.

Several of my MCC colleagues, including Jonathan Richart, our Global Practice Leader for Environmental and Social Performance (ESP), are also here at the conference discussing our approach for mainstreaming environmental and social assessment and risk management in our programs. As Jon said to me, “It’s been a great opportunity to share experiences with others and showcase our implementation model and how we integrate environmental and social considerations throughout project design and implementation in partnership with our MCAs. This approach is something that really differentiates MCC from others.”

ESP professionals are often labeled as “project police” who throw unnecessary and costly hurdles in the way of project implementation.  That’s not the approach we take at MCC. Our ESP team screens our projects for both environmental risks and opportunities and then work hand in hand with project designers to optimize project design and implementation strategies to maximize delivery of benefits and to help ensure sustainability of our investments.  Instead of adding unnecessary hurdles, our ESP team adds value to our project design and implementation processes, helps inform risk management and supports development outcomes.

We’re also proud of the ESP team’s work to build the capacity of our country partners and to strengthen country systems to identify and manage ESP issues. Several of our current and former country counterparts are also here at the IAIA conference, highlighting their work.

For some, it may be remarkable that an organization whose singular mission poverty reduction through promoting economic growth could be recognized for environmental and social leadership. But for me—and those most familiar with our work—it’s easy to understand that effective management of environmental and social risks and opportunities is central to achieving sustainable and equitable economic growth.