The China Development Bank’s (CDB) environmental and social standards are being questioned in a report that points to several harmful projects in the bank’s portfolio.

The report, published jointly by Friends of the Earth and BankTrack, acknowledges the importance of CDB in international development finance and the measures taken by the China Banking Regulatory Commission in February 2012 to implement environmental best practices. But it urges CDB to do more towards making overseas deals more ecologically sustainable.

BankTrack director Johan Frijns says: “From the Shwe gas project in Burma, to tar sands development in Canada, and illegal logging in Indonesia, CDB is involved in ‘dodgy deals’ around the globe. It is clear that CDB’s policies are not doing nearly enough to protect communities and the environment.”

CDB was not available to comment on the report when contacted by GTR.

Describing the bank’s global footprint and environmental and social financing policies, the report also includes case studies with examples of how communities are affected by CDB’s transactions. It points out that CDB’s recently released 2011 corporate social responsibility report, which shows a growing number of environmental projects in the bank’s portfolio, was not included in the analysis.

“CDB’s concerted efforts to finance environmentally beneficial activities shows that the bank has tremendous potential to catalyse ecologically and socially sustainable development,” says Friends of the Earth US director of economic policy programmes, Michelle Chan. “By working hand-in-hand with stakeholders, including Chinese civil society, CDB has the potential to show global leadership in this area.

“Like other international banks, CDB needs to develop strong safeguards for environmentally and socially sensitive transactions, be much more transparent on how it conducts its operations and include local communities and other stakeholders in decision-making on investments that affect their legitimate interests.”

‘China Development Bank’s Overseas Investments’ is the third report related to the Chinese banking sector that Friends of the Earth and BankTrack have jointly published.

According to the organisations, CDB is now the world’s largest development bank by total assets (almost US$1tn) and China’s biggest lender, financing cross-border transactions and investment in over 90 countries and regions.