EBRD Annual Meeting 2015: Sustainability Leadership

By Eoin Casey

EBRD Inspiring Sustainability Leadership

How do you transition from talking about sustainability to becoming a leader in it? Is it affordable? And what are the tangible benefits of doing so?
 
These were among the main questions discussed during the Inspiring Sustainability Leadership panel at this year’s EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Tbilisi, Georgia.

How to balance affordability with the desire to ‘do the right thing’ is a very common concern expressed by companies.

“The idea that transitioning to a sustainability-focussed business model comes at great expense is a myth,” said Oliver Rothschild, Chairman, Oliver Rothschild Corporate Advisors.

Always being one step ahead of increasing regulation allows you to become a leader in sustainability management, which helps drive your profits, rather than hinder them, he said.

There are many reasons why the EBRD can be described as inspiring sustainability leadership. It uses ‘best-in-class’ systems, standards and expertise to help clients improve their environmental and social performance, encouraging them to implement good practice that often goes beyond their own countries’ accepted standards and norms.

The EBRD embraced sustainability for a number of reasons, said Josué Tanaka, Managing Director, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, at the EBRD. He cited the 2005 G8 Summit as a critical event, after which the EBRD began hearing from its shareholders that a focus on better sustainability management was necessary.
 
The EBRD’s transition mandate had evolved over the years since its inception to include environmental transition, he added.

Last year the EBRD invested €8.9 billion in more than 30 countries across 377 operations, each of which was assessed for its ability to meet the EBRD’s standards and to protect and benefit the environment, employees and communities.

As a leader in sustainability, the EBRD tackles issues such as energy efficiency, climate change, water quality, gender equality and road safety, all of which have a lasting and beneficial impact on people’s lives and environments.

The future of sustainability will be based on evolution, rather than revolution, said Mr Rothschild. We now have a sustainability culture in place, where business owners and shareholders both see the value in being sustainable, and the need to be sustainable in an environment of increasing regulation.
Watch interviews with the winners and expert panelists at the Sustainability Report launch.

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EBRD Sustainability Awards

The panel was followed by an award ceremony, celebrating the efforts of EBRD clients in the field of sustainability.
 
The 2015 award winners were:
 
For Environmental & Social Best Practice, the Eurasia Tunnel (Turkey); for
Environmental and Social Innovation, the Hines Poland Sustainable Income Fund (regional); for Sustainable Energy, the Sokhna Alternative Fuels Plant (Egypt); and for Climate Change Adaptation, the Qairokkum Hydro Power Rehabilitation Project (Tajikistan).