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Sustainable and Responsible Project Implementation in AIIB to Promote Sustainable Economic Growth and Improve People’s Lives

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) supports sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors to promote economic growth and improve people’s lives. Consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals, AIIB recognizes the need to address the three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental—in a balanced and integrated manner. In addressing development challenges, AIIB subscribes to the principles of sustainable development in the identification, preparation and implementation of its projects.

Meet the team of environment specialists and climate change specialists who support the integration of environmental and climate change dimensions into the work of AIIB. Together with social development specialists, they manage the environmental, social and climate-related risks and impacts in AIIB’s investment strategies, policies, programs, and projects per the requirements of AIIB’s Environmental and Social Policies (ESP).

Q: What do you do as an environmental safeguards specialist / a member of the climate change team at AIIB?

Alex Hadzhiivanov, Senior Environment Specialist—Private Sector, Operational Services Department

Working on environment safeguards and on the environmental and climate agenda is rewarding from both a personal and professional point of view because my work brings value add to both clients and project-affected communities. By contributing to the management of the environmental risks and impacts of projects, we help to future-proof our clients’ investments and improve their environmental footprint. Further, green and environmentally sound infrastructure helps to address potential adverse impacts in terms of air, water and soil pollution, helps with efficient use of resources, reduces and ensures proper waste management, and reduces impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems. In many cases, the advanced techniques applied in our investments can not only reduce any net losses, but also bring about net gains and result in more appreciation of the natural capital on which our economic activities depend.

Rong Zhou, Environment Specialist—Private Sector, Operational Services Department:

My job is challenging and inspiring. As an environmental safeguard specialist for the private sector, I work as part of AIIB’s project team to support our clients achieve high environmental sustainability outcomes. AIIB is gradually expanding its private sector investments and is offering more and more innovative solutions to mobilize private capital to achieve greater development impacts, so every day, I interact with different private sector clients, including financial institutions and companies from different AIIB Members to develop these projects.

Xing Zhang, Senior Climate Policy Specialist, Strategy, Policy and Budget Department

I lead the climate strategy team of the AIIB, and the key mandate of the team is to support the AIIB in developing and implementing its climate-related ambition, strategies and guidance by working closely with both internal and external stakeholders and partners. AIIB has strong climate commitments: (1) the ambitious target to achieve at least 50 percent climate finance by 2025; and (2) to align all its new financing operations to the goals of the Paris Agreement by July 1, 2023. Our team works together with our investment operation colleagues to ensure those goals and ambitions will be fully realized with good quality. 

Julija Polycarp, Climate Change Specialist, Strategy, Policy and Budget Department:

As a climate specialist at AIIB, I am responsible for overseeing adaptation-related workstreams within the climate team. Specifically, I ensure that all AIIB investment project proposals include climate risk and adaptation considerations. This includes conducting a review and assessment of a project’s exposure to climate risks, conducting an analysis related to the project’s vulnerabilities, and identifying measures to address them so that our infrastructure investments are resilient to the impacts of climate change.

I am also responsible for strategic engagement with different stakeholders, including other multilateral development banks (MDBs), by sharing our experiences and approaches with regards to different financing opportunities for climate adaptation and resilience. For example, AIIB has recently issued its first Climate Adaptation bond, and I worked closely with the funding team of the Treasury Department on the potential project list, framing and relevant methodologies for the underlying bond.

Q: How does AIIB incorporate environmental considerations into its investment decisions? What specific measures or policies does AIIB have in place to ensure environmentally sustainable projects?

Rong Zhou: AIIB commits to high environmental and social (ES) standards, and consideration of ES standards is embedded in the full project cycle from screening, concept review, final review, and approval. We continue to support clients during project implementation. AIIB’s Environmental and Social Policy (ESP), underpinned by three associated mandatory Environmental and Social Standards (ESSs) and Environmental and Social Exclusion List (ESEL), constitute AIIB’s ES framework. Every investment project is subject to assessment based on the ESF requirements, and gaps identified are subject to improvement action plans to align the ES performance with the policy requirements.

Alex HadzhiivanovEnvironmental considerations are an integral part of the investment decision-making process. AIIB supports projects and investments which will deliver a net positive environmental and social impacts, or those where adverse risks and possible impacts are well managed, mitigated, disclosed or offset. AIIB has a robust and comprehensive Environmental and Social Framework and applicable ES standards, which provides hands-on guidance in line with the global good environmental practice.

Julija Polycarp: AIIB’s ESF also sets out requirements regarding climate risks; it requires AIIB-financed projects to identify and manage climate change-related impacts and risks. Furthermore, AIIB has a set of tools which support its climate adaptation and risk assessment efforts.

Xing Zhang: We have mainstreamed climate considerations along the project cycle. We are actively exploring, and where relevant, maximizing the climate finance opportunities in our operations to support clients in addressing climate risks. This includes mitigating the climate transition risk by promoting low-carbon technologies, solutions and designs while mitigating physical climate risks by climate-proofing the project design to make the project more resilient to climate hazards.

Q: In your opinion, what makes AIIB a unique organization to work for in terms of environmental and social safeguards? Climate adaptation and mitigation?

Rong Zhou: As a young MDB that was established in the 21st century, AIIB adheres to high international ES standards while maintaining a lean structure to be more agile. Its lean structure also provides environmental and social specialists with exposure to different types of transactions and enables us to have a wide range of interactions with both private and public sector clients and financial institutions. We get to experience implementing ES safeguards in different countries and in different contexts.

Xing Zhang: AIIB serves a highly climate-vulnerable region exposed to climate change and disproportionately impacted by climate hazards. The demand for and potential value add by AIIB is tremendous. It is very exciting to work for an MDB with the ambition and commitment to respond to global challenges like climate change.  In addition, AIIB is versatile in how it uses its capital and product offerings, does product innovation, and works with partners to address the challenge of climate change. It furnishes the environment and culture for young people make a change.

Q: What advice can you give applicants who are interested to join AIIB's ES and climate teams? How can individuals interested in this field prepare themselves for a career at AIIB? What skills and qualities will help them succeed in this role?

Julija Polycarp: AIIB is a diverse organization, with people from many different nationalities and countries, and we encourage people with different backgrounds to come and join us. The AIIB Climate team welcomes people with relevant experience in identifying climate investment opportunities, keen interest in driving AIIB’s climate agenda and a vision of how a 21st century bank should think about climate innovative products and solutions.

Alex Hadzhiivanov: AIIB is a very dynamic, fast developing institution, governed by policies and procedures on par with that of other MDBs. Here, you will enjoy all of the advantages of working for other MDBs and find many opportunities for professional growth and enriching personal experiences. The Bank’s operating model offers immense opportunities for professional learning and growth due to the nature and diversity of investments it supports. It offers a very pragmatic and collaborative environment, which makes it possible for ES specialists to realize their professional potential. Finally, AIIB’s Headquarters are located in Beijing which offers its own unique cultural experiences.

Join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on its exciting journey of growth and sustainable development. As a young and dynamic bank, AIIB is expanding its teams and recruiting talented individuals who are passionate about making a meaningful impact. By joining AIIB, you will not only become part of a growing organization but also contribute to shaping the infrastructure for tomorrow. As a member of our team, you will have the opportunity to work on impactful projects on infrastructure. Whether you have expertise in finance, infrastructure, sustainability, or technology, AIIB offers a diverse range of roles to suit your skills and aspirations.

To learn more about AIIB and the exciting opportunities that await you, click here sign up for our virtual event on July 27, 2023. This event will provide you with insights into our mission, what we offer, hear the experiences of our staff, and the transformative projects we are undertaking. You will also have an opportunity to interact with our recruitment team and ask questions.

Additionally, if you prefer an onsite experience, we invite you to join our recruitment event in Singapore on Sep. 9, 2023. This will be an excellent opportunity to meet our team, learn about available positions, and take the first step towards a meaningful career at AIIB.

At AIIB, we believe that together, we can make a difference. Join us and help create a prosperous and sustainable Asia while growing your career in a diverse and innovative environment. Visit our website and sign up for our upcoming events today to embark on a career that is both fulfilling and impactful.

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