The Equator Principles (EP) are international guidelines that provide support to financial institutions, voluntarily applying them when financing projects related to large infrastructures and industrial plants, such as energy plants, oil refineries, mines, transport and telecommunications infrastructures.
The banks adopting and subsequently implementing the Principles (Equator Principles Financial Institutions - EPFIs) are equipped with organisational structures and tools to identify, assess and manage social and environmental risk associated with the projects under consideration for financing.
Launched in 2003 and initially adopted by 10 financial institutions, the Principles are based on the Performance Standard (PS) of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and on the Environment, Health and Safety Guidelines (EHS Guidelines). Now adopted by about 90 institutions worldwide, the EP are for this reason recognised as the benchmark for the financial industry that best meets the need to protect the environment and society as a whole. Moreover, as the Principles are based on a common framework and language, the financial industry has been able to take a giant step forward in terms of social and environmental risk management deriving from financing activities. They have also accelerated the dissemination of best practices in other finance-related activities, in addition to those covered by their scope, and encouraged discussion on the responsibilities of finance in a broader sense.