Venue: Silk Road Congress Centre, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Thank you very much for your gracious words of support for the EBRD and our joint partnership.
We are delighted to hold this event in Uzbekistan - and in your presence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the EBRD’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Business Forum.
And welcome to the ancient city of Samarkand, one of the treasures of Central Asia.
This region has regained its historic role as a vital link on the Silk Road connecting East and West.
And Uzbekistan itself is now a major investment destination.
We at the EBRD are very proud of the part we have played in putting the country back on the map of international investors since 2017.
And greater momentum on reforms to open up the economy, develop the private sector and accelerate the green transition will, of course, attract more foreign investment.
Holding our event here is our tribute to shared achievements – and testament to the Bank’s commitment to Uzbekistan’s reform agenda.
I would like to thank the President and all our partners here for everything they have done to prepare for this week – and, in general, to make the EBRD’s work in Uzbekistan such a success.
Thanks to our partnership, we have invested over 3 billion euros in the last 6 years here, including more than 800 million euros last year alone.
Some shining examples of that success are the three solar plants that can generate almost 900 megawatts of energy whose financing we announced last month.
Another is the Bank’s largest ever renewable energy project in our regions, in the shape of two wind plants in Bukhara which will generate 1 gigawatt of power.
We could not achieve such results – and many others elsewhere - without our long experience, our local knowledge, our unique mandate and our trademark focus on the private sector and policy reform.
These are powerful strengths for the Bank to deploy for the benefit of our existing regions and, if you approve, in new ones too.
These strengths are now more relevant, more in demand – and more important - than ever.
And so is the EBRD.
We are living through an age of alarming geopolitical tensions.
The world - and our countries of operations - have been facing multiple crises: the pandemic, the dramatic impact of the war on Ukraine and the resulting energy and food crises.
Inflationary pressures are adding to the challenges.
Our response has been swift and effective.
Our investment reached the record level of 13 billion euros last year.
Most importantly, the impact of these investments has also been very high.
We can see that in our performance across the strategic themes you defined for us at the 2020 Annual Meeting, when you also elected me as the Bank’s President.
Let me take them one by one:
Record green investment of 6.4 billion euros last year, the second year running we have delivered on our pledge to invest half our business volume in green financing.
Another pledge fulfilled: aligning all our activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement by the end of 2022.
And a personal highlight for me: the leading role EBRD plays in the Energy pillar of Egypt’s pioneering Nexus on Water, Food and Energy, and the support we received from world leaders for this strategy at COP 27. Many of you here today have helped launch this very exciting partnership of private and public funding for a just transition.
Second, Gender and equality of opportunity
Gender-smart activities were part of 37 per cent of our projects last year, well above the target.
The number of inclusive projects also doubled year-on-year with a strong focus on skills and jobs.
And protecting livelihoods and human capital was key to our response to Russia’s war on Ukraine as well.
Lastly, the digital transition
Our approach to accelerating this, approved less than 18 months ago, is now delivering real results across our regions.
36 investments signed, 50 policy engagements launched and advice to more than 800 SMEs last year.
In the midst of this, we have also moved to new headquarters which embody our commitment to sustainability.
And it was a great privilege for me personally to welcome King Charles in March to officially open our new home, one of Europe’s greenest buildings.
The King was deeply impressed, I think, by the diversity of the staff he met.
This diversity is a huge asset for the Bank.
And I want to pay tribute to the commitment and dedication of all our teams this past year.
We should be very proud of the Bank’s outstanding work across three continents.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has been a stern test of the EBRD and our mission, one which will continue to shape much of what we do for years to come.
It is an attack on the shared values which underpin the EBRD.
It is costing many lives and causing much destruction.
It is damaging and disrupting many economies.
And is creating much uncertainty, including here in Central Asia.
This Annual Meeting and Business Forum is being held under the banner of ‘Investing in Resilience’.
The Ukrainian people’s own resilience has been an inspiration to me.
It is what struck me most in my two trips to Kyiv over the last year.
Despite the air raids, despite the risks, despite the fear and the trauma, life goes on,
And the country is united around a shared goal of freedom and, in the future, recovery.
We have helped Ukraine keep the lights on, heat homes and businesses, ensure that trains continue to run, to repair war damage and safeguard human capital - and in many other ways.
We deployed 1.7 billion euros there last year, with a further 200 million euros mobilised from partner banks.
We have committed to delivering at least 3 billion euros over 2022 and 2023.
And that is what we will do.
The war’s destructive impact has not stopped at Ukraine’s borders.
And nor has our response to the conflict.
We have supported energy security in the Western Balkans and Moldova, food security in the Middle East and North Africa, connectivity in Central Asia and access to capital markets in Eastern Europe.
Here again, we could not have done all this without you - and the generous financial contributions of our donors.
We will continue to support Ukraine this year and in the longer term.
We will do so in wartime - and during reconstruction on its path towards EU accession.
Deciding HOW best to do this will be part of your discussions tomorrow.
More support for Ukraine will allow us to sustain capacity to deliver in all our regions.
For example, our response to the dreadful earthquakes in Türkiye earlier this year.
Across our regions the EBRD is – I repeat - now more in demand – and more important – than ever before.
The EBRD’s strengths are well known: our long experience, our local knowledge, our unique mandate and our trademark focus on the private sector and policy reform.
With the support of you, our shareholders, we want to ensure that the Bank is fully equipped for the mission ahead.
And thus to deliver maximum value for you, And maximum benefit for all our regions. We must support them. It is our duty to do everything we can to do so.