EBRD Annual Meeting Highlights 25 Years of Environmental Transition

EBRD15 May 2014: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced the winners of its annual Sustainability Awards and launched its Sustainability Report 2013 at its 2014 Annual Meeting and Business Forum. A panel focusing on environmental change during economies' transition process was held in conjunction with the awards announcement and report launch.

The Annual Meeting, themed 'Changing Economies, Changing Lives,' was held in Warsaw, Poland, from 14-15 May 2014. The EBRD Environment and Sustainability Department and the Energy Efficiency and Climate Change team organized the sustainability events, which took place on 15 May 2014.

BNP Paribas Polska received the Sustainability Award for Energy Efficiency and Climate Change for its work in financing renewable energy projects, monitoring the sustainability of its own operations, integrating sustainability into its corporate culture, and offering customers a range of socially responsible financial products.

The winner in the Environmental and Social Performance category was the Turkish bank Garanti, the leader in financing wind projects in Turkey. Garanti Bank has supported EBRD's Sustainable Energy Financing Facilities (SEFFs) and promotes sustainability in its own activities and through innovative financing tools.

EBRD's Sustainability Report 2013 focuses on three themes, namely: impact, assurance and engagement. Under the first, EBRD reports that it committed almost €2.5 billion to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate change adaptation and mitigation in 2013.

Under assurance, EBRD reviews its Good Governance Policies, which include the Environmental and Social Policy, the Public Information Policy, and the Rules of Procedure for the Bank's independent Project Complaint Mechanism. The year 2013 also saw the start of an integrated review of all three policies, which will be completed in 2014.

On the theme of engagement, EBRD announced that 2013 represented a "shift towards early engagement and high-level dialogue with civil society stakeholders." Throughout the investment process, EBRD emphasizes that it values the inclusion of a wide range of stakeholders in consultations on policies, strategies and projects to be adopted and undertaken in recipient countries.

The report explores these themes through 32 case studies. The projects examined range from a green shipping programme in the Russian Federation to modernizing an aluminum plant in Turkey, from water and wastewater networks in Croatia to paper recycling in Turkmenistan.

The panel featured Adam Pogozelski of the Polish Environment Ministry's Air Protection Department, Stephen Lintner, Former World Bank Senior Technical Adviser, and Jacqueline McGlade of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). EBRD's Managing Director of Operational Strategy and Planning and the Energy Efficiency and Climate Change team, Josué Tanaka, moderated the panel.

Panelists noted that civil society has become more engaged in environmental issues in the region and that environmental activism is taking hold. According to Lintner, while environment helped drive the process of democratization even 25 years ago, today, democratic institutions, such as better access to information, environmental assessments and accountability mechanisms, are the drivers of a growing sustainability movement. The panel also fielded questions from the audience on issues such as environmental trade-offs faced in undertaking projects.

EBRD made its 2014 annual meeting carbon neutral and offset the emissions related to the event, which attracted approximately 2,500 people, by contributing Kyoto-compliant carbon credits from a wind power project in northwest Poland. The project will replace electricity currently generated by fossil fuels. [EBRD Press Release, 15 May 2014] [EBRD Press Release, 12 May 2014] [EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum Webpage] [EBRD 2013 Sustainability Report]