Profession / Affiliation
Advises financial institutions, corporate clients, multilateral and bilateral development institutions and consulting firms on international corporate finance, development finance, emerging market operations, investment analysis, private sector development, sustainability issues and financial product development. On accountability, priority areas include project monitoring and evaluation, impact assessment, audits and assurance mechanisms, corporate social responsibility reporting and Equator Principles training. Expertise includes strategic planning, standards and metrics development, and stakeholder and civil society engagement.
Definition of Responsible Investment Banking
I draw my definition of responsible and sustainable investment and banking from the Equator Principles…
Finance and advice should be “developed in a manner that is socially
responsible and reflects sound environmental management practices.” Priority should be given to the impact of “climate change, biodiversity, and human rights.” “Negative impacts on … ecosystems, communities, and the climate should be avoided where possible. If these impacts are
unavoidable they should be minimised, mitigated, and/or offset.” “Our role as financiers affords us opportunities to promote responsible environmental stewardship and socially responsible development, including fulfilling our responsibility to respect human rights .”
Areas of Expertise
sustainability, international development, private sector development, risk management, emerging markets, independent evaluation, microfinance, human rights, community engagement
Suellen Lambert Lazarus is a Washington, DC based independent consultant advising clients in international finance, private sector development, investment structuring, independent evaluation and sustainability. Her work includes assisting financial institutions with development and implementation of environmental and social policy, strategy and training. In 2010-2011, she led the Strategic Review for the Equator Principles (EP) Association to produce a multi-year strategic vision, which served as the first step of the EP update process. From 2006-2009, Ms. Lazarus was Senior Adviser at ABN AMRO Bank advancing the bank’s sustainability and corporate social responsibility agenda including representing ABN Amro on the EP Steering Committee. Ms. Lazarus worked at the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) for 23 years including as director of IFC’s Syndications Department where she was instrumental in the development and launch of the EPs and in their implementation as a global standard for environmental and social risk management, and as Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President of IFC.
She has held senior managerial roles in both the private and public sectors in international development banking and finance in the World Bank Group and at a leading international bank. She combines a high-level perspective of international development banking as advisor to the CEO of IFC and to US board member of World Bank Group, with hands on experience promoting private sector investment in emerging markets. She has significant experience in banking and finance, both big and small, as Director of IFC’s Syndications Department, raising capital globally from private and public sources, managing major financial restructurings, as an Investment Officer in IFC’s East Asia and Chemicals and Petrochemicals Departments leading major project financings and structuring equity investments, and for ABN AMRO Foundation promoting microfinance. She is an accomplished speaker and writer on private sector development, emerging markets and sustainability issues. Ms. Lazarus has an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a BS from the University of Wisconsin.
When launched in 2003, the Equator Principles (EPs) signaled a major shift by international banks in their approach and responsibility for environmental and social outcomes in the projects to which they were lending. From the 10 European, US and Australian banks that were the original adopters of the EPs, by the end of the first year, 25 financial institutions from 14 countries had adopted the EPs, including a Japanese bank and an export credit agency. Ten years later, there were 76 Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFIs) and two Associate members from countries as diverse as Mauritius, Mexico and Morocco.
In 2006, the EPs were revised to reflect changes in IFC’s Performance Standards and needed modifications based on implementation experience. The update process took less than six months and expanded the scope of the EPs and introduced reporting requirements. In 2010, the EP Association embarked on another revision process (EP III), which took over 2-1/2 years to complete. What changed in the five intervening years to make the process so much slower? Were the EP Association’s aspirations for this revision higher, had the issues become more complex, did the broad geographic scope of the EP membership make consensus more difficult, or had the management of EP Association become less efficient? In reality, all of these issues had a part to play. Certainly, the management system of the EP Association with its rotating chair, 14-member Steering Committee and 10 working groups is both a strength and a weakness of the EPs. With its flat structure and lack of dedicated professional resources, the EP Association now has to work longer and harder to develop solutions, reach consensus and make decisions.
This extended process provides some insight into the complexity of managing a global standard with a broad range of constituencies. Among some of the tradeoffs that had to be navigated were: 1) the desire to introduce more robust and consistent reporting requirements while recognizing that some countries have a culture of corporate privacy; and 2) addressing climate change and promoting lower carbon outcomes while accommodating those countries that are actively developing carbon intensive industries such as tar sands, hydraulic fracturing and coal reserves. Nonetheless, the revision reflects breakthroughs including the expansion of the scope of the EPs to include Project Related Corporate Loans and strengthened reporting requirements.
The release of EP III at the Association’s ten-year anniversary provides the opportunity to reflect on what the EPs have achieved and where challenges remain.
International financial institutions, multilateral development banks, bilateral development agencies, microfinance institutions, civil society organizations.
Hobbies & Social Engagement
Founder and executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival and the Martha’s Vineyard Author Lecture Series. Enjoys tennis, travel, reading and writing.