You have probably heard of the phrase “Help Me, Help You,” made famous by Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire. He utters it in a desperate attempt to persuade his last remaining client, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Rod Tidwell, to start engaging in independent activities—those outside the control of his managing agent. This would help Maguire’s company to not only survive, but to thrive and establish a new standard of managing athletes: one that is more personal, flexible, efficient and — most importantly — more independent.
I use this plot as a metaphor for how The IDB is engaging with some clients in Latin America & the Caribbean. As part of our loans, we sometimes offer Technical Co-operations (TC) or support funds that cover the cost of performing different studies or implementation of environmental systems. These studies or systems, which could include environmental, feasibility or pre-inversion reports, help bring clients up to speed on different topics, fostering a deeper level of environmental and social know-how, and allowing us to engage with them on a more profound level. Sometimes these documents help the client meet The IDB’s or other national policies; sometimes they improve their overall institutional capacity.
These studies and systems are not the only ‘freebies’ that can come with a loan. They are also accompanied by The Bank’s technical expertise, as well as best practices and lessons learned from across Latin America & the Caribbean that experts have learned and built across the years by working with different stakeholders on several sectors.
One of our best examples of implementation is in Ecuador, a megadiverse country around the same size as the state of Nevada. Ecuador is among the top ten most biologically diverse countries in the world, with the 8th highest number of registered species. A country with dramatic variations in landscape—from the Darwinian paradise of the Galapagos Islands to the riches of the Amazon jungle and 20,000’ mountains in the Andes. It also contains some of the last equatorial glaciers in the world.
One of our largest clients in Ecuador is the Banco de Desarrollo del Ecuador (BdE), for which the IDB has successfully implemented several development loan programs in the urban, transport, and water & sanitation sectors. As part of two of these projects, the Prodesarrollo and Prosaneamiento program, The IDB has taken a ‘Help Me, Help You,’ stance by including a capacity building component that consists of designing and implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS).
What is an EMS? An EMS is designed to improve the management of a project’s environmental and social components, and thus its overall quality of implementation. At the same time, an EMS helps a project comply with international environmental and social standards. An important EMS feature is that it helps standardize the methodology, tools and procedures of environmental and social management in an institution. Without an EMS, if one department located in the high Andes region is managing a road project that will intersect with a protected area, their management of the environmental impacts and mitigations would be totally different from a department located in the Amazonian region facing the same issue. An EMS brings a standardized approach, so that the process to deal with an intersection of a protected area is homogenous within an institution.
For The IDB and BdE, it was important that this system would not only be utilized for IDB’s loan-related operations managed by the BdE, but for all operations falling under the BdE’s scope. And, one year after the EMS’s successful implementation, the BdE has benefited from a standardized operational approach in many ways—including its increased appeal in attracting international finance from other Multinational Financial Institutions.
The implementation of this EMS in Ecuador has successfully enabled a “Help Me, Help You” approach. Jerry Maguire would be proud!