Profession / Affiliation
Senior Environmental and Social Adviser within the Environment & Sustainability Department at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Definition of Responsible Investment Banking
As a Senior Advisor within the Environment & Sustainability Department I am responsible for leading or oversight of the appraisal and due diligence of the Bank’s investments for their potential risks and compliance with the Banks Environment and Social Policy (ESP) and Public Information Policy (PIP) requirements. The role provides technical leadership and sector guidance and I lead on high risk projects and/or policy development and implementation. The role incorporates reviews of institutional liabilities of financial and reputational nature related to E&S impacts of Bank’s transactions, country and sector policies and broader initiatives.
Areas of Expertise
Debbie Cousins is a Senior Environment and Social Advisor within the Environment and Sustainability Department at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development undertaking due diligence and monitoring of projects to ensure that all investments are consistent with the Bank’s Environmental and Social Policy and Performance Requirements. Prior to joining the Bank she was a Project Director in a multi-national environmental and energy consultancy working on a broad range of environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA), due diligence, environmental health and safety risk management frameworks, CSR policy and auditing projects. Over her career, Debbie has had the opportunity to work in project development, on construction sites and as Lender Environmental and Social Advisor for a wide range of due diligence assignments across the world including oil and gas projects in Sakhalin and Nigeria and power projects in Hong Kong.
In these roles, Debbie has reviewed and benchmarked hundreds of projects against international environmental and social standards. Her public and private sector project experience extends to the oil and gas, transportation, power (including wind and nuclear), natural resources and infrastructure sectors.
Debbie Cousins is an environmental and social specialist with 20 years of experience in the areas of environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), environmental and social due diligence and auditing, environmental health and safety risk management frameworks, and the development and implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility policy, management systems and best practices. Over her career, Debbie has had the opportunity to work in project development and as an ESIA and management system advisor, as well as a wide range of due diligence assignments for Lenders across the world and is currently working as a Senior Environment and Social Advisor within the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Environment and Sustainability Department. She is one, of only a very few members of the ESD Department, with a dual role, as the lead specialist assigned to manage both the environmental and the social due diligence of projects (resettlement, labour and stakeholder engagement) and has also been the lead when EBRD has been mandated to be the Lead Environmental Bank on a number of deals.
In these roles, Debbie has reviewed and benchmarked projects against international environmental and social standards. Her public and private sector project experience extends to the oil and gas, transportation, power (including wind and nuclear), natural resources and infrastructure sectors. Debbie also has extensive experience working on international projects, including numerous EBRD countries of operations (BiH, Brunei, Bulgaria, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine). She is a strong team player, used to working in a multicultural environment, to deadlines and with varied professional and IFI groups, public and private sector clients and civil society organisations. Debbie is a Chartered Environmentalist and is the Financial sector representative on the Professional Standards Committee at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.
Assessing and understanding the potential environmental and social (ESG) risks is an essential step in the preparation and development of a project seeking investment. Understanding the due diligence process, the scope of issues to be covered, how interfaces or relationships between key parties can potentially affect the risk profile of the project and timeline for financial approval is explored in this paper. Including ESG requirements as a key component of the investment works best when incorporated early in the project cycle and should ensure that the project meets national requirements. However, the introduction of international lenders may broaden the ESG risk analysis and require the project to be recalibrated to meet an additional set of standards, requirements or principles. This can be a challenge for all parties involved. This chapter considers some of the lessons learnt from the environmental and social appraisal processes and from the monitoring of project development and implementation in practice, or ‘on the ground’ of large scale infrastructure projects. It explores some complexities of interfaces and how they address project ESG risks and highlights areas where there may be some capacity building needs.
Debbie attends various MFI and IFI network events on a range of environmental, social and stakeholder engagement issues. She is also a Chartered Environmentalist and is the Financial sector representative on the Professional Standards Committee at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).
Debbie has developed a wide network of contacts with environmental and social consultants. She is also a mentor to environmental and social professionals.
Hobbies & Social Engagement
Debbie spends most of her free time with her family, involved in a range of activities and charity projects relating to education, health, renewable energy and cancer . She is passionate about dogs, supporting re-homing projects and particularly enjoys walking along the coast with her rather large dog!