Sustainable investments are becoming more and more crucial in the modern world, and, for countries in transition, there has never been a better time to implement green, sustainable practices to safeguard the future. In 2015 the United Nations agreed the Sustainable Development Goals, the framework that will determine how we tackle development and environmental and social challenges between now and 2030. The EBRD contributed to the formulation of the Goals and will work to ensure that they are implemented.
The EBRD has had a strong sustainability mandate from its foundation. We assess the environmental and social impacts of all of the projects we invest in and work with our clients to achieve good international standards across all our countries. We have robust safeguard policies and put a particular emphasis on economic inclusion, gender equality and stakeholder engagement. Through our investments in sectors such as water supply, wastewater treatment systems, public transport and sustainable energy we make a real difference to peoples’ lives.
- A year of progress
- Achieving results
- Challenges remain
- The year ahead
- About the EBRD
- EBRD approach to sustainability
A year of progress
While the investment environment in the EBRD region continues to be extremely challenging, 2015 was a year of great progress for the Bank in terms of our sustainability and support for green finance.
At the COP21 climate conference we announced the adoption of a Green Economy Transition approach to increase the level of our financing in sustainable resources to some €18 billion over the next five years.
Climate mitigation continues to be crucial in the EBRD’s overall strategy and operations. We’re doing more and more for the green economy – in fact, it now accounts for nearly one-third of our total investments.
The EBRD is aiming to increase its green financing to at least 40 per cent of total annual investments by 2020 compared with a target share of 25 per cent over the previous five years. In 2015, the EBRD in fact dedicated 30 per cent of its total €9.4 billion in investments to sustainable energy and resource finance.
The Bank continues to make strides in encouraging sustainable business practices, diversity and inclusion, with the approval of the Bank’s first Gender Strategy in December 2015 as well as the continuing expansion of our Women in Business programme, now available in a total of 16 countries.
Through investing in a wide variety of projects ranging from a solar plant in Kazakhstan and a wind farm in Morocco to energy efficiency projects in factories and commercial and residential buildings, EBRD finance for sustainable resource use has led to a reduction of carbon emissions of around 77 million tonnes a year.
The EBRD goes beyond providing project finance or being a mere presence when it comes to sustainability in our region. We influence change, achieve results and see a positive impact on daily lives.
In addition to promoting transition in our countries of operations, the projects we financed in 2015 will see:
- 1.8 million people benefit from improved access to wastewater services
- 1.4 million people benefit from improved public transport
- 6.3 million people benefit from improved solid waste management
- 244 thousand people benefit from improved district heating
- over 24 million people benefit from improved infrastructure.
But crucially, the work we do in helping our clients make the transition to a sustainability-focused business model demonstrates that doing so does not come at a great expense – in fact, the very opposite. By encouraging our clients to implement best practices that often go beyond the acceptable standards in their countries, we’re helping them to become sustainability leaders themselves.
The EBRD launched its first project in response to the refugee crisis in December 2015, with a loan of up to US$ 14 million to the Water Authority of Jordan to carry out an urgently needed upgrade of the country’s wastewater infrastructure. As an estimated 1.4 million Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan, there is now extra pressure on the country’s resources and infrastructure. The upgrade of the existing wastewater pipeline and related infrastructure has been designed to implement best environmental and sustainability practices, as well as improve health and safety standards in general. This fulfils our mandate of going beyond providing finance and creating real change in people’s lives.
While many of the EBRD’s countries of operations have made significant progress towards more environmentally and socially sustainable economies, such progress has been inconsistent and challenges remain. The communist era left a legacy of widespread environmental neglect and wasteful use of energy. In spite of significant investment during the past 25 years, environmental and social performance is often still poor. Basic health and safety standards are routinely not adopted or enforced. The economic and social benefits of gender equality are not widely appreciated. The southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region faces the particular challenge of significant and worsening water scarcity. Crucially, the inability of markets to internalise and monetise the cost of environmental and social damage has often exacerbated this situation. So despite the achievements and progress that we are reporting on here, we recognise that more needs to be done.
The year ahead
In the year ahead we will continue to build on the progress we made in 2015. Promoting energy efficiency is what the EBRD has become known for, both at the national and global levels. With the start of the implementation of the Green Economy Transition (GET) approach we aim to build on that expertise and apply it to a wider range of sustainability challenges. The EBRD continues to be a major player in building partnerships and alliances across our region to raise the profile of green finance. As countries step up their climate finance, policy reform activities will play an increasingly important role in our support. We will continue to work with authorities at all levels to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives in the introduction of regulations, legislation and new investments. We will work with new and existing clients to help them tackle their environmental and social challenges and in doing so will promote the transition to more sustainable market economies. We will also continue to engage with all of our stakeholders, including local communities, civil society and international organisations to learn from them, understand their needs and explain the benefits of the EBRD’s work.
About the EBRD
What do we do?
The EBRD is investing in changing people’s lives and environments from central Europe to Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. Working together with the private sector, we invest in projects, engage in policy dialogue and provide technical advice that fosters innovation and builds sustainable and open market-oriented economies.
Where do we work?
We are owned by 67 countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank. We work primarily with the private sector and, since our establishment in 1991, we have become the largest financial investor in the EBRD region.
This Sustainability Report has been prepared using the framework of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 Indicator protocols and the GRI Financial Sector Supplement. The Bank has a self-declared “B” rating according to the GRI application levels. The GRI Content Index is published here.
The following publications provide additional information on the EBRD’s activities, results and impact in 2015 and can be found on ebrd.com:
In accordance with our Public Information Policy, we also publish information on individual projects (including environmental and social impacts) through our online project summary documents database.
Our internal performance
We are committed to minimising the environmental impact of our offices and business activities. Click for further information.
EBRD APPROACH TO SUSTAINABILITY
How do we approach sustainability?
The EBRD makes a significant contribution to sustainability through its investments. These investments aim to advance the transition to market-oriented economies, set the highest standards of corporate governance and promote environmentally sound and sustainable development. We regard a proactive approach to achieving sustainability as an integral component of economic transition. Negative environmental and social externalities impede economic activity and wellbeing. Conversely, sound market economies where true environmental costs are fully reflected by prices, aim to build resilience, adapt to environmental hazards, protect livelihoods and provide safe working conditions. Promoting gender equality and inclusion increases the skills base of an economy. The efficient use of resources has both economic and environmental benefits, and sustainable development is linked directly to innovation, growth and energy security. Sustainable development is therefore central to the EBRD’s mandate.
Our approach to sustainability is multifaceted and involves:
- incorporating environmental and social requirements into the appraisal and implementation of all Bank-funded projects based on European Union standards and international good practice
- providing finance and technical assistance specifically aimed at addressing environmental and social issues
- promoting economic inclusion and access to community services such as water and public transport
- supporting projects that promote gender equality
- encouraging public participation through pre-investment consultation and information disclosure, and maintaining regular strategic dialogue with civil society organisations and other stakeholders.
In this report you will find detailed information about our sustainability projects and initiatives over the last year. Measuring and reporting on the impacts of our projects is an important objective for the EBRD and we pride ourselves on monitoring our work in a transparent and accountable way.
Watch our video on inclusion here.