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EBRD ‘changing in a changing world’

By Anthony Williams

EBRD President's speech

EBRD President optimistic about the future of the Bank’s regions

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is changing in a changing world but its mission is as important and the prospects for the countries where it invests are as bright as ever, its President said today.

The EBRD, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of its founding tomorrow, has learned a lot in its first quarter of a century of building sustainable market economies, Sir Suma Chakrabarti said.

"We are well placed to work with our partners, old and new, to continue to invest in changing lives,” he told the Center for Global Development in Washington D.C.

The world of 2016 is changing far faster and the influences bearing on it are much more multifaceted than was the case when the EBRD was established at the end of the Cold War, he said.

Climate change, new demographic trends, the growth of ever larger cities, and the cross-border movement of trade, services, capital, information and people all pose acute challenges for the future, Sir Suma said in a speech.

International financial institutions such as the EBRD and the countries where they invest have had to devise responses to these challenges in a hostile economic environment.

The average growth of emerging markets has halved since 2010, investment has slowed, some countries are suffering from ‘reform fatigue’ and economic nationalism has made a comeback.

“Our mandate, fostering transition to market economies and promoting private enterprise, hasn’t changed,” Sir Suma said.

“How we define transition is evolving, however, and is likely to evolve still more.  

“In practice and in the light of the more complex world we now live in, we see our goal as boosting reforms and our countries’ competitiveness, reinvigorating transition and growth.”

The President cited several examples of the way the EBRD has moved quickly to respond to new circumstances, among them its new Green Economy Transition approach which aims to invest €18 billion in climate finance over the next five years.

It is also now working in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, and Cyprus and Greece, which were never centrally planned economies.

Such activity reflects the EBRD’s new strategic priorities:

Building up economic resilience and institutions in the countries where it invests

Helping them to integrate better into the regional and world economy

Assisting them in combatting common global challenges such as climate change.

Sir Suma was optimistic about the prospects for many of the countries where the EBRD invests, saying: “last year we witnessed a very encouraging resurgence of structural reforms”. 

“A new generation of leaders is in power in some of these countries, with vision that extends far beyond the next electoral cycle.”

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