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Going green with our donors

By Cecilia Calatrava and Olga Aristeidou

How the EBRD and its donors promote green innovation 

Whether it is solar-powered smart benches, “green” chewing gum or window blinds equipped with photovoltaic modules, there is great potential for new products and technologies to reduce the impact of climate change.

However, sometimes it can be challenging for entrepreneurs or municipalities to put such impactful ideas into action. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) wants to create a market for these innovative ideas and make them more widespread across our regions but this would not be possible without the generous support and expertise of our donors.

Combining finance and green technology

This support and expertise help to preserve the environment for future generations – and it also makes sense from a business perspective: new technologies make companies more competitive, more energy efficient and more cost effective.

We help firms implement innovative climate technologies through our Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change (FINTECC) programme, supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the European Union (EU).

We also help innovative companies to find new approaches to improve their climate resilience. For example, six Ukraine-based companies received climate innovation vouchers to cover 75 per cent of the eligible costs of pioneering solutions and technologies to address climate change.

The innovations rewarded included agricultural drones, hemp houses and more.

Greener cities

Cities worldwide are the source of at least three-quarters of emissions, making them a key starting point in tackling climate change. Projects that help cities become greener range from introducing modern waste management and cutting-edge recycling programmes to promoting more environmentally friendly transport and modernising energy-inefficient buildings.

Our EBRD Green Cities programme builds a better and more sustainable future for cities and their residents. It identifies, prioritises and connects environmental challenges with innovative sustainable infrastructure and policies.

In total, we have already mobilised more than €2 billion to address environmental degradation and provide support in more than 50 cities that have committed to becoming green. This programme receives essential funds from our donors: Austria, the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), the Czech Republic, the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P), the EU, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF), Japan, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the Western Balkans Investment Framework.

Modern solutions to outdated infrastructure

Sustainable infrastructure is vital for improved and more resilient urban development.

We manage two multi-donor funds, the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) and the E5P that focus on bolstering resilient infrastructure in the public sector with the aim to reduce energy use, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The E5P, a €235 million fund, has supported crucial projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus, including cleaner and safer public transport in Georgia, improved solid waste in Moldova and energy-efficient street lighting in Armenia, among many others. Donors to the E5P are: the EU (the largest contributor), ArmeniaAzerbaijanBelarus, the Czech RepublicDenmark, Estonia, FinlandGeorgiaGermanyIcelandIrelandLatviaLithuania, MoldovaNorwayPolandRomania, the Slovak RepublicSwedenSwitzerlandTaipei ChinaUkraine and the United States of America.

Donors to the NDEP are BelarusBelgiumCanadaDenmarkFinlandFranceGermanythe NetherlandsNorway, RussiaSweden and the United Kingdom.

Smarter homes

Residential buildings are widely acknowledged as one of the key causes of carbon emissions. Poor insulation makes them energy inefficient and expensive. Improving the main component of urban infrastructure is one of the goals of our Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF). The programme provides individual homeowners, municipalities and communities with finance to invest in energy efficiency measures, such as new windows and roof insulation. It also supports business investment in green technologies.

Across our regions, the programme operates through a network of more than 140 local financial institutions across 26 countries, supported by more than €4 billion of EBRD finance. This has enabled more than 130,000 clients to collectively avoid almost 7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

Bilateral donors that support the GEFF programme include Austria, the Bohunice International Decommissioning Support Fund, BP, Canada, the CIF, the Czech Republic, the EU, the GCF, the GEF, Germany, Japan, Norway, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Taipei China and the United Kingdom. Several multi-donor funds, such as the EBRD Early Transition Countries Fund, the EBRD Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Multi-Donor Account, E5P, the European Western Balkans Joint Fund and the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund also support the programme.

Inclusion for a greener future

We recognise the importance of involving women and men equally in developing and implementing gender-responsive climate policies.

For example, we have collaborated with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in Egypt to provide financial management, improve corporate and climate governance, and support equal opportunities and career development for women and young professionals in the renewable energy sector.

With Japan’s support, we help tens of thousands of people affected by the decommissioning of the coal sector in North Macedonia by giving them access to job opportunities and high-quality nationally accredited retraining courses focused on green skills and energy efficiency.

What’s in stock for the future

Our new Strategic and Capital Framework (SCF) recognises green as one of our main priorities and sees donors as key enablers for delivering our mission. Whether we aim to tackle urgent needs related to the climate crisis or ensure a sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, working with donors is very much part of the equation. 

For example, we recently approved the £1 billion High impact programme for the corporate sector. It will promote the uptake of low-carbon technologies in the industrial sector and facilitate a transformational shift within energy intensive industries, agribusinesses and the mining sector in seven countries.

The programme combines concessional finance from the GCF, the EBRD and other co-financiers, as well as additional funds from the GCF and the EBRD for technical assistance and policy dialogue.

Overall, the programme expects to reduce emissions by 17.2 million tonnes of CO2 over a 20-year asset lifetime, which is equivalent to avoiding one year’s worth of energy-related CO2 emissions by a country like Croatia.

We will continue to cooperate closely with existing and new donors, other international financial institutions and the global development community to help countries accelerate their green agenda to the benefit of all: citizens across our regions, businesses and, of course, the environment.

Our donor cooperation has turned into an essential part of our business model and helped us invest significantly to fight climate change. Today, donor funds support almost half of the EBRD’s investments. In 2021 alone, donors cumulatively provided more than €600 million for investment.


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