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EBRD can do more to support global development goals

By Anthony Williams

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD President

Read the speech

President Chakrabarti proposes phased approach at Annual Meeting in Jordan

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) can step up its activities in support of global development goals that the international community has pledged to achieve by 2030, EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti said.

At the opening of the Bank’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Jordan, the President said the EBRD had once again delivered positive change for millions of people in 38 economies across three continents with a record level of investments in 2017. But he warned against complacency.

“The EBRD is … delivering significant impact in today’s world. But to pursue the ‘business as usual’ approach risks missing a great opportunity to do everything we can for the world of tomorrow. An opportunity that should be seized,” Sir Suma said.

There were just 12 years to go before the 2030 deadline to achieve Sustainable Development Goals to which the international community had signed up in 2015, he noted.

The SDGs are a blueprint for global development, promoting environmentally sustainable and inclusive economic progress.

In his speech to the Board of Governors, which represents the 68 shareholders who define the EBRD’s strategy, the President outlined a possible approach whereby the Bank would seek immediately to do more in its existing countries of operations.

He also noted there were countries in the EBRD’s southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region where it was not yet investing.

He added that, if the EBRD had additional capital capacity that could be deployed, it could “begin a feasibility study of whether to extend our work gradually and incrementally to new countries, with sub-Saharan Africa an obvious region to consider’.

The EBRD President said it would be premature to seek specific decisions from governors at this stage. But management would develop options on the basis of shareholders’ guidance.

“This will require much thought and careful preparation – and direct, open communication with you, our Governors,” Sir Suma said.

He also said it would once again require the ambitious outlook that Governors had displayed in the past.

The EBRD initially worked in central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union after it was set up in 1991 to promote the development of market economies following the collapse of communism.

 It then started operating in Mongolia in 2006 and in Turkey in 2009.

The EBRD expanded into the SEMED region at the request of the international community following political upheavals in the Arab world in 2011 and began investing there in 2012, initially in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

Its 2018 Annual Meeting on the Dead Sea in Jordan is the first to be held in this new region.

In Jordan alone, the EBRD has invested more than €1 billion and almost €7 billion in the wider SEMED region. Most recently the EBRD has expanded its operations to Lebanon and also in 2017 it had started investing in the West Bank and Gaza.

The EBRD had responded rapidly to the demands of the Arab economies, President Chakrabarti told the conference in the presence of King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein.

The EBRD business model now delivered in countries far removed from its original region of operations. “We have done this time and time again, whenever our shareholders have challenged us to move into new territory,” he said. .

The EBRD President pointed to an impressive performance across all of the Bank’s regions in 2017, with record investments of €9.7 billion in a total of 412 projects, also a new high.

In line with its commitments to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the EBRD had also stepped up its investment in the green economy, achieving new climate finance targets set for 2020 three years ahead of time.

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