The Equator Principles

Large infrastructure and industrial Projects can have adverse impacts on people and on the environment. The Equator Principles (EPs) are intended to serve as a common baseline and risk management framework for financial institutions to identify, assess and manage environmental and social risks when financing Projects.

The Equator Principles apply globally, to all industry sectors and to five financial products:

1) Project Finance Advisory Services,

2) Project Finance,

3) Project-Related Corporate Loans,

4) Bridge Loans, and

5) Project-Related Refinance, and Project-Related Acquisition Finance.

Information on detailed thresholds and criteria for application can be found below under ‘Scope of the Equator Principles’.

Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) implement the 10 Equator Principles through their internal environmental and social risk management policies, procedures and standards in order to align with the Equator Principles. EPFIs may (at their own discretion) choose to utilise the Equator Principles for additional financial products outside the scope of the Equator Principles.

Individual EPFI implementation of the Equator Principles

The Equator Principles are sector-agnostic, capable of global application, grounded in relevant [international] standards and laws where applicable, and are intended to provide a framework approach to support each EPFI in its individual, independent assessment of Projects.

EPFIs comply with all requirements set out in the Signatory Rules and agree to act (subject to, and consistent with, applicable fiduciary and contractual duties, laws and regulations) including avoidance of exchanges or disclosures of competitively sensitive information, co-ordination of commercial strategies and other anti-competitive behaviour which may breach Competition Laws.

 

EP4

EP4

The Equator Principles (EP) are updated periodically to build upon implementation expertise and ongoing learning by EPFIs and wider stakeholders, as well as to reflect changes in the evolving operating environment and emerging good practice.

EP4 is the latest iteration of the Equator Principles. Following an extended transition period due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, EP4 came into effect for all EPFIs on 1 October 2020.

Click on the button below to download EP4 in English or go to Resources to download EP4 in an additional 6 languages and to view the suite of Guidance documents that support EP4.

Where reference to the EP Association is made, this legal entity was dissolved in 2024. From 2024 this reference may be read as the collective group of Signatories to the Equator Principles.

Download

Designated & Non-Designated Countries

The Equator Principles make a distinction between Designated and Non-Designated Countries in the application of the Equator Principles.

Designated Countries are those countries deemed to have robust environmental and social governance, legislation systems and institutional capacity designed to protect their people and the natural environment. Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) make no independent assessment of each country’s performance in these areas. As a proxy for such an assessment, the EPFIs require that a country must be both a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and appear on the World Bank High Income Country list to qualify as a Designated Country. These data sets are reviewed quarterly by the Office of the Equator Principles to ensure that any change in status is reflected in the Designated Countries list.

The following countries are Designated Countries (as at 1 December 2023):

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea, Rep.
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Benefits of applying the Equator Principles

The Equator Principles have become the financial industry gold standard for environmental and social risk management in projects. Financial institutions become Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) to ensure that the projects they choose to finance are developed in a socially responsible manner and reflect sound environmental management practices. By doing so, negative impacts on project-affected ecosystems, workers and communities should be avoided where possible. If unavoidable, negative impacts should be reduced, mitigated and/or compensated for appropriately.

Adherence to the Equator Principles offers significant benefits to EPFIs, their borrowers and local stakeholders through their borrowers’ committed engagement with locally affected communities. EPFIs should be able to better assess, mitigate, document and monitor the environmental and social risk associated with financing projects.

Additionally, the collaboration and learning on broader policy application, interpretation and methodologies between EPFIs, and with their stakeholders, helps knowledge transfer, capacity building, learning and best practice development. The EPFIs role as project-related advisers and financiers affords them opportunities to explain, promote and champion responsible environmental stewardship and socially responsible development. This positive influence is growing, which benefits EPFIs, people and the planet.

Scope of the Equator Principles

The Equator Principles apply globally and to all industry sectors.

An EPFI must apply the Equator Principles to any new Project that meets the below criteria:

  1. Project Finance Advisory Services where total Project capital costs are US$10 million or more.
  2. Project Finance with total Project capital costs of US$10 million or more.
  3. Project-Related Corporate Loans where all of the following three criteria are met:
    • i. The majority of the loan is related to a Project over which the client has Effective Operational Control (either direct or indirect).
    • ii. The total aggregate loan amount and the EPFI’s individual commitment (before syndication or sell down) are each at least US$50 million.
    • iii. The loan tenor is at least two years.
  4. Bridge Loans with a tenor of less than two years that are intended to be refinanced by Project Finance or a Project-Related Corporate Loan that is anticipated to meet the relevant criteria described in 2 and 3 above.
  5. Project-Related Refinance and Project-Related Acquisition Finance, where all of the following three criteria are met:
    • i. The underlying Project was financed in accordance with the Equator Principles framework.
    • ii. There has been no material change in the scale or scope of the Project.
    • iii. Project Completion has not yet occurred at the time of the signing of the facility or loan agreement.

While the Equator Principles are not intended to be applied retroactively, EPFIs are required to apply the Principles to the financing of expansions or upgrades of an existing Project.

More details on the Equator Principles definition of the five financial products listed above can be found in Exhibit I (Glossary of Terms)

Overview of the 10 Equator Principles

Principle 1

Review & Categorisation

Principle 2

E&S Assessment

Principle 3

Applicable E&S Standards

Principle 4

E&S Management System & EP Action Plan

Principle 5

Stakeholder Engagement

Principle 6

Grievance Mechanism

Principle 7

Independent Review

Principle 8

Covenants

Principle 9

Independent Monitoring & Reporting

Principle 10

Reporting & Transparency