The EBRD joins the Clean Oceans Initiative

By Vanora Bennett

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  • EBRD joins development banks in the fight to preserve marine environments
  • Clean Ocean Initiative committing €4 billion in investment to reduce plastics, other pollutants at sea
  • EBRD to invest in clean municipal infrastructure, maritime transport, circular economy, costal property and tourism

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is joining the Clean Oceans Initiative (COI) to strengthen its action aimed at reducing ocean pollution, in particular from plastics.

The Initiative entails a commitment by the signatories to collectively invest up to €4 billion by 2025 in public and private sector projects that can stop plastic waste from polluting seas.

It is estimated that a staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the oceans every year. This threatens marine flora and fauna as well as the millions of people whose livelihood depends on the oceans.

To help tackle this issue, the COI helps identify and finance projects in plastic reduction, solid waste, wastewater and storm water management in coastal and river areas globally, with a focus on Africa, Asia and Latina America.

The Initiative was launched in 2018 by the European Investment Bank (EIB) together with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and KfW, joined by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and the Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO). Today the EBRD officially joined these development banks at a ceremony during the One Ocean Summit in France.

In three years, the Initiative has channelled €1.6 billion financing for public and private sector projects.

The Bank is set to become a strong partner in combating plastic pollution in the sea, building on its capacity to invest, attract donor support and engage in policy reform in sectors connected with marine conservation.

To date, the Bank’s investments in the Blue Economy sectors amount to €6.7 billion in operations ranging from water and sewage systems, ship building and water transportation, ports and harbour, solid waste management and property and tourism in coastal areas. Since 2020, the EBRD has been subscribing to the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles, which are a benchmark for investing in a sustainable ocean economy.

The Bank also closely collaborates with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in reducing the global spread of invasive species and pathogens in the ballast tanks of international cargo vessels.

In the Mediterranean region, the Bank finances advanced environmental technologies for cleaner coasts and water systems through its Environmental Technology Transfer programme, with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “We are delighted to join this important initiative for the future of our oceans and the planet. The EBRD’s robust commitment to green investments and track-record in fighting environmental degradation in marine ecosystems, such as the Baltic, Black, Mediterranean and Red Seas, make us ideal partners to push this agenda forward. Our operations in greener municipal infrastructure, maritime transport, as well as costal property and tourism will make a real difference in reducing ocean pollution.”

The Bank is gathering momentum for the creation of a partnership among multilateral agencies and governments to replicate in the Mediterranean region the work done in the Baltic and Barents seas by the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership.

The EBRD has committed to enhancing its climate action by increasing the proportion of its green investments to more than 50 per cent of the total by 2025. By 2023, the EBRD is committed to align all its operations with the goals of the Paris Agreement on limiting climate change. These further enhance its work fostering the green transition in the 38 economies in Europe, Asia and Africa where it invests.


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