Funding boost for innovative EBRD urban greening programme

By Vanora Bennett

EBRD Green Cities programme financing increases fourfold to almost €1 billion

Batumi joined EBRD Green Cities in July 2018.

  • EBRD quadruples its urban greening programme to limit climate impact of cities
  • Almost €1bn, with support from GCF, dedicated to addressing environmental degradation
  • Cities account for 70 per cent of energy use and 80 per cent of GHG emissions

The EBRD’s successful urban greening programme, EBRD Green Cities, is quadrupling in size, and has also won new support of €87 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board.

As EBRD experts explained at a Green Cities event today at the COP24 international climate talks in Poland, addressing climate change and environmental degradation is urgent. Cities represent one of the greatest opportunities to address these challenges, since they account for 70 per cent of energy use and 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is particularly true of cities in the EBRD regions where obsolete urban infrastructure is degrading the quality of life of citizens, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and preventing communities from adapting to climate change.

The EBRD Green Cities programme offers tangible support to help cities address their environmental issues and improve the quality of life of their residents. Progress on the pioneering programme – which identifies, prioritises and connects cities’ environmental challenges with sustainable infrastructure investments and policy measures – is being marked with the launch of a dedicated new website.

The EBRD is expanding its programme after a first €250 million of Green Cities funding, designed to last five years, was mostly committed within just two years. In October 2018 the EBRD approved a further €700 million of funding to cities with strong needs and strong commitment to improve environmental performance. This expands the number of cities that can be supported and raises the level of ambition across cities and environmental performance. The €87 million GCF support will go to concessional and technical cooperation funding to cities in nine countries.

The Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar in November 2018 became the latest city, and the first in Asia, to join the Green Cities programme. Ulaanbaatar pledged to address its pressing ecological and infrastructure challenges with a Green City Action Plan (GCAP) developed with EBRD support. Ulaanbaatar is the 14th city in the programme, with three action plans completed – in Tirana, Tbilisi and Yerevan - and a further 11 now underway.

Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, invested US$ 412 million to implement its plans. One of the first sustainable solutions the EBRD backed was the municipality’s acquisition of 143 new compressed-natural-gas buses, reducing the car emissions that cause 85 per cent of air pollution. As part of its action plan, the city has also made environmental improvements in water and wastewater services, solid waste management, the climate resilience of buildings and other energy efficiency measures. These changes are expected to reduce annual CO2 emissions by around 450,000 tonnes and to save around 55 million m3 of water per year.

The EBRD is also working with Minsk, Sofia, Belgrade, Batumi, Zenica, Chisinau, Gyumri, Sarajevo, and Amman.

With its comprehensive business model for sustainable urban development, combining strategic planning with investment and associated technical assistance, EBRD Green Cities is helping the EBRD achieve its ambition to increase the volume of its green financing under its Green Economy Transition (GET) approach to 40 per cent of annual investment by 2020.