Starting back in 1996, US NGOs and environmental groups began to press the US Ex-Im Bank to develop and implement environmental and social standards for the projects it supported. Following the implementation of these "standards", the US pushed the OECD to commit to a "level playing field" to define environmental and social standards for OECD ECAs. This triggered the weak Common Approaches at the ECG/OECD.

As NGOs and international environmental groups began to coordinate their efforts on ECA "standards", similar pressures were developed at the level of the G20 in order to give the impression that national ECAs, international development banks and other institutions were actively concerned about environmental and social standards.