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EBRD 2016 Annual Meeting: Sustainability Event

By Jane  Ross

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Tomorrow’s Sustainable World.….a Future Vision

2015 saw the approval of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious agenda for change that aims to make significant progress in eradicating poverty, promoting prosperity and protecting the environment by 2030.The goals were endorsed by world leaders and the heads of multilateral development banks, including the EBRD, and include 17 goals that encompass social, economic and environmental issues.

But how can the EBRD, its clients and the rest of us – in the EBRD region and beyond – help achieve these goals? These questions were at the heart of a special event, 'Tomorrow’s a sustainable world …a Future Vision' at the EBRD’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Business Forum.

The highlights of this year's work by the EBRD to promote the best environmental and social standards; tackle climate change; and advance inclusion and gender equality.

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The EBRD’s track record over the quarter of a century since it was founded and its readiness to generate and adapt to new ideas gives it a unique perspective on what is needed for a sustainable future.

Alistair Clark, Managing Director of the Environment and Sustainability Department, reminded the audience of how the Bank’s sustainability agenda has evolved to respond to pressing global challenges, and used the occasion to launch the latest edition of the Sustainability Report which highlights the impact of the EBRD’s recent investments and policy dialogue on water management, energy efficiency, climate resilience and gender equality.

All of these factors are essential for the SDGs to succeed. This was the clear message from the ensuing panel discussion, moderated by Jonathan Charles, Managing Director of the EBRD’s Communications Department.

But despite these activities and achievements, “the rate of environmental change is too fast for the policy machinery we have. Governments can’t keep up,” explained Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She added: “There is also an inconsistency in governments’ policies in the developed world that adversely affects us all.”

One of the consequences is that governments are leaving behind those on the ground who are being innovative in helping to reduce environmental threats. Samuel Fankhauser, Co-Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment believes that “we need diverse views, conversations with those from cities and local communities, not just politicians”. It was important to take account of research and data, ”the workhorses of investment” and to recognise that “we haven’t unleashed all human ingenuity yet”.

Both believe that partnership between state and private sector is vital for the SDGs to succeed. Indeed, if there was one policy change to help address environmental problems and ensure a sustainable future, Fankhauser believes it would be to “get price incentives right to make the private sector invest in the right way in the right things”.

In this way, the EBRD, with its focus on the private sector and on private finance, is already playing a crucial role in overcoming obstacles in the business environment to help ensure our sustainable future.


EBRD 2016 Sustainability Awards

The EBRD promotes environmental and social sustainability through investments in projects, financial intermediaries and technical cooperation programmes. But unlike many international organisations, the Bank not only reports on the impact of these investments but also recognises clients’ progress in promoting environmental and social responsibility through its Sustainability Awards.

The final part of the Sustainability Event at the Annual Meeting was dedicated to a ceremony for the 2016 Awards.

The Sustainable Energy Award was presented to the Burnoye Solar Power Project in Kazakhstan. The 50MW solar photovoltaic site is the first large-scale solar power plant in a country where the power sector has been dominated by coal usage, obsolete technology, low energy and environmental performances and prolonged lack of investment. The project – expected to result in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of 60,000 tonnes of CO2 annually –  is leading the way for further investments in renewables in Kazakhstan.

The Climate Change Adaptation Award was presented to the West Delta Electricity Production Company for the Damanhour Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) project in Egypt. The Damanhour CCGT project –  the EBRD’s first climate resilience transaction in the thermal power sector –  will not only result in considerable GHG savings but will also avoid significant water losses, particularly important given the anticipated water stress in Egypt.

The Environmental and Social Innovation Award went to Flash Candy & Gum and Maghreb Industries, a small Moroccan agribusiness producing chewing gum and confectionery. The company is constructing a modern production site on the outskirts of Casablanca with the ambition to design and construct a new facility that is “as green as possible”. Solar panels will cover 90 per cent of the roof space of the new facility and the company is adopting an innovative mix of sustainability measures.

Shymkentcement –  the Kazakh affiliate of Italcementi Group and one of the largest cement producers in the world – is joint winner of the Environmental and Social Best Practice award. Shymkentcement is notable for reducing carbon intensity in the Kazakh cement industry and introducing alternative fuels. The company has expanded its comprehensive energy and environmental-management systems and undertaken education initiatives with local universities and colleges to disseminate knowledge about energy efficient technology and environmental best practice.

KCM – a leading Bulgarian pure metal producer –  is joint winner of the Environmental and Social Best Practice award. KCM has constructed a new lead plant (including a state-of-the-art smelting furnace) and made major upgrades to the zinc smelting process. Benefits include a reduction in the emission of fugitive dust in the workplace and the local environment by a factor of 10, resulting in much improved employee safety and industrial hygiene conditions, and significantly reducing the contamination of the surrounding soils.

EBRD bankers/operation leaders nominated 30 companies for the 2016 Sustainability Awards. The winning companies were selected by an independent panel of judges: Mark Hurley, Head of Environment and Energy at WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff Group; Geoff Lane, Partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP in the United Kingdom, with responsibility for its work on sustainability and climate change issues; and Kadri Samsunlu, Chief Financial Officer, Akfen Holding (sponsor of the Sustainability Event).

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