Targeting Environmental and Social Standards

Two workshops on Environmental and Social Standards were organised by the GET FiT Implementation Consultant in June 2014. The workshops targeted small hydropower, biomass and bagasse developers (June 9th) and solar developers (June 10th) and were held at the Protea Hotel, Kampala. 

The workshops were organised as a reaction to low environmental and social scores during appraisal of applications for the GET FiT premium payment mechanism in RfP Rounds 1 and 2. A large proportion of the applicants did not make the cut-off scores for the Environmental and Social Assessments. There were systematic weaknesses in the environmental and social documentation across the projects. In most instances, neither the applicants (project developers) nor their consultants appeared well-versed in the IFC Performance Standards.

  • The one-day workshop for small hydropower and biomass developers was held on 9th of June with a total of 28 representatives from developers and their consultants. ERA, KfW and the GET FiT Secretariat (Multiconsult|Norplan) were also represented. The main objective of the workshop was to increase the knowledge and understanding among small hydropower and biomass project developers of key elements of the IFC Performance Standards, the Ugandan frameworks and the related GET FiT requirements as well as how to address these requirements in project documentation. 
     
  • The half-day solar developers’ workshop was held on 10th of June with a total of 17 representatives from solar developers and their consultants. ERA, KfW and the GET FiT Secretariat were also represented. The main objective of the workshop was to increase the knowledge and understanding among solar project developers of key elements of the IFC Performance Standards, the Ugandan frameworks and the related GET FiT requirements.
     
  • A series of bilateral meetings with prospective biomass / bagasse developers was held, aimed at further lifting their understanding of GET FiT environmental and social requirements, as well as offering them specific and targeted advice.
     
  • Most of the projects approved by the Investment Committee have received some technical support from the GET FiT Implementation Consultant through review, comments and discussions of Terms of References for environmental and social studies, draft reports and draft plans.

Despite the workshops, meetings and provided technical support, several developers and their consultants remain unable to properly address and manage environmental and social issues. Their requirements for bilateral support are putting a strain on the Implementation Consultant’s team and budget. While GET FiT will continue to actively support developers there is a limit to what can be provided. Thus, some developers are required to substantially step up their efforts or risk further delays or even losing support under GET FiT.

On the other hand, a limited number of developers have gradually responded in a more proactive and forward-looking manner. Recruitment of dedicated internal capacity at the developer has in one instance contributed to marked improvements and much more targeted investments in the environmental and social processes. The project management of at least one other developer has taken much more responsibility and engaged seriously with the issues and recognised their importance for overall project success. This engagement has included in-depth scrutiny of consultants’ actual abilities as opposed to relying on consultants’ self-proclaimed capabilities. 

Beyond securing the GET FiT Premium Payment, the proper handling of environmental and social issues are likely to guard against unforeseen risks and impacts during construction and operation and also to secure a social license to operate. The reputation and ‘stamp of approval’ that accompany IFC Performance Standards can also be attractive to new investors and financiers, though some of the developers are unlikely to obtain such an approval unless learning from some of their peers under the GET FiT Program.

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E&S Workshop in Kampala, June 9th – 10th (Photo: GET FiT)