€11 billion in 2020 through 411 projects, addressing the urgent needs of the 38 economies where it invests
EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso said: “The Bank put in an impressive performance and delivered on its promise to help our countries and clients deal with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our investments were sharply higher than the year before and we also provided policy support to help the private sector through the crisis.”
The EBRD was the first international financial institution to adopt emergency measures to address the economic impact of the pandemic in March last year. It focused on supporting existing clients with the provision of short-term liquidity and working capital to protect viable companies and safeguard progress towards sustainable, fair, and open market economies in its countries of operations.
Keeping vital trade flows going, the EBRD supported a new record of 2,090 trade finance transactions worth €3.3 billion under its Trade Facilitation Programme, involving 90 issuing and 140 confirming banks across 40 countries worldwide. Examples of transactions include the import of medicines from Spain, Turkey, and Switzerland into Lebanon, Georgia, and Jordan, or the export of solar power technologies from Greece to Spain and the United Kingdom.
In addition to its own funds, the EBRD also directly mobilised €1.2 billion from co-investors at a time when the global economy was suffering its most severe slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Bank continued to concentrate its support on the private sector, which accounted for 72 percent of total EBRD investment last year.
Due to the urgency of addressing the Covid-19 crisis, in 2020 the share of green investment fell to 29 percent after 46 percent in 2019. However, in October the Bank reaffirmed its commitment in this area with the adoption of a new five-year Strategic and Capital Framework, which aims to make the EBRD a majority green bank by 2025.
The Bank continued to promote economic resilience by supporting the development of local currency and capital markets. Following a significant decline in the early days of the crisis, activity rebounded to reach a total of 113 projects.
The development of the euro-US dollar exchange impacted the Bank’s reported investment levels, in particular in countries where it has substantial operations in US dollars.
Addressing urgent needs
The EBRD stepped up its investment to address immediate needs and to create the foundations for recovery, with a focus on building back better economies in the future. As the pandemic is exacerbating inequalities, especially for women, young people, and other groups, the Bank reinforced its efforts with regard to gender and economic inclusion. This work resulted in a 24 percent increase in inclusion projects, with a total investment volume of €4 billion, and a record number of gender activities.
In central and eastern Europe, Warsaw joined the Bank’s flagship Green Cities urban sustainability programme and, as a first project, received a joint €87.2 million-equivalent loan from the EBRD and ING for the acquisition of new metro trains. The Bank also intensified its engagement in green energy with five major new renewables projects in carbon-intensive Poland.
The Green Cities programme continued to grow rapidly and reached 44 municipalities across the EBRD regions by the end of the year. Responding to high levels of demand, the Bank’s Board of Directors approved a doubling of financing so that the programme now commands more than €2 billion of funding.
Facilitating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, the Bank launched a Just Transition Initiative to ensure that those communities, sectors, and workers who stand to lose economically as a result of policies associated with decarbonising economies are protected through new alternatives.
One of the first projects under this approach was a €75 million bond investment by the EBRD in support of a new solar photovoltaic plant in a coal-dependent region of Greece, the largest solar energy project in south-eastern Europe to date. The programme in renewables led to the launch of new auctions for solar and wind in Albania and wind in Uzbekistan.