EBRD to host water seminar in Belgrade

By Viktorija Melohina

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is holding a seminar on water and waste water development, in Belgrade, Serbia, on 20-21 May.

Water and wastewater management is a key issue for the Western Balkans region as a whole as it modernises its infrastructure and works to decrease pollution levels. For European Union candidate and potential candidate countries in the region, adopting the EU environmental policy as a preliminary to accession negotiations is a policy priority, and more than half the estimated environmental investment needed is in the water and wastewater sector.

The EBRD has an active relationship with water and wastewater sector stakeholders throughout the Western Balkans and elsewhere, working with utilities, city administrations, ministries and regulators to build operational and financially sustainable water supply and wastewater management operations complemented by corporate development support and policy dialogue for sector reforms.

“The seminar will provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate the Bank’s experience in this vital sector and improve the quality of the preparation, execution and implementation of EBRD-financed water projects,” said Lin O’Grady, Deputy Director of the Bank’s Municipal and Environmental Infrastructure Team.

This networking event will allow existing and potential municipal EBRD clients in the Western Balkans to share experience of water and wastewater projects, thereby strengthening regional integration as well as sector expertise.

At the Belgrade event, which is being funded by the Norwegian Government, EBRD and guest speakers will share experiences as well as lessons learned from past operations, and discuss other questions from the use of energy efficiency components in projects to the relationship between a utility and a city to water reform. The working language will be Serbian, with English translation available.

Among those attending, alongside representatives of utilities and municipalities across the region, will be Bank economists, water specialists and procurement experts as well as bankers, EU and other donor representatives, such as Switzerland and Sweden who are already active in the region, WHO representatives to discuss the Protocol on Water and Health, and Serbian officials.

The EBRD’s involvement in the Western Balkans aims to promote stability, regional cooperation and economic development. The EBRD works closely with donors on these programmes. A series of initiatives lends support to SMEs and the wider private sector, promoting strategic investments in infrastructure, the financial sector, industry, commerce, energy and agribusiness. The Bank closed 2013 with record levels of regional investment – nearly 70 deals totalling €1 billion.