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Current focus and key challenges

The core objective of the Bank's MEI operations is to promote greater efficiency and higher quality in the provision of local authority services through investment and the promotion of independent, well-managed and financially sustainable operations provided on commercial principles and in a market-oriented institutional and regulatory framework.

Municipal infrastructure is probably one of the areas where challenges are the most daunting in the EBRD countries of operations. In 2010, an estimated 26 million people in the EBRD region did not have access to an improved water supply – and six countries had more than one million people without such provision. Eighty-six million people only had access to substandard or shared sanitation. More than 150 million people in the EBRD countries of operations depend on district heating and yet about 10,000 towns and cities in Russia alone and 2,000 in Central Europe await rehabilitation of their systems.

The scale of ‘needs’ across the MEI sector is large and there are many investment opportunities – but at the same time, the challenges in structuring and delivering ‘bankable’ and sustainable projects are large too.

The goal is therefore to achieve the sustainable delivery of essential services throughout the EBRD region. To reach this goal, the MEI sector faces three over-arching challenges, outlined in Section 3:

  • providing essential services in areas with very different demographics;
  • fostering transition to a market economy in order to create sustainable organisations, infrastructure and services; and
  • making more efficient use of energy and water and adapting to climate change.

The EBRD will seek to operate where the challenges intersect, and will apply transitional, market-based solutions to deliver essential services and generate environmental and social benefits. Where not all three challenges are present, the Bank will proceed as long as sufficient transition impact is achieved.

Last updated 4 July 2012


  • MEI factsheet

    MEI factsheet

    This document provides an overview of the EBRD's work in this sector.