The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has provided some €7 billion in assistance in 2020, until August, to countries it invests in to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its related impacts on their economies; with a special focus on the private sector and small and medium-sized enterprises, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveiled.
Sunak's statements came during the opening of the EBRD's 29th annual meeting, kicked off virtually from London on Wednesday.
He assured that supporting the private sector, entrepreneurship, and a free market systemis crucial to growth from now on; adding that global collective and coordinated efforts are needed to speed up the recovery from the pandemic.
Acting President Jürgen Rigterink said the EBRD’s immediate priority was to help the economies where it invests recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, with a focus on helping them build a resilient and more sustainable future.
Accordingly, the EBRD has launched a solidarity package worth €21 billion to back its member countries from 2020 to 2021, and to address the repercussions of COVID-19, said Rigterink.
He revealed that the bank’s revenues recorded €1.4 billion in 2019, the highest in a decade, while the total bank’s investments amount to €10 billion, 46 percent of which was centred on green and low-carbon investments.
He also added that during the first six months of 2020, the EBRD financed 1,000 trade deals worth €2 billion, the highest in the bank’s history.
For the EBRD’s 2021-2025 strategy, that is expected to be approved during the meeting, the bank will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, through which green finance will be the majority of the bank’s business by 2025, according to Rigterink.
The EBRD also aims to promote equality of opportunity through access to skills and employment, finance and entrepreneurship; and support for women, young people, and under-served communities. It will also accelerate digitisation, unleashing the power of technology to bring about change for the better, Rigterink expounded.
“The strategy affirms as well the EBRD’s interest in a limited and incremental expansion of its activities to sub-Saharan Africa and Iraq during the next five-year period,” he added.
The Prince of Wales, Charles, gave a speech during the opening meeting through a pre-recorded video message, urging business leaders to be “even more ambitious, and even more radical” in moving towards a low-carbon future, as “time is rapidly running out.”
“International financial institutions and development banks such as the EBRD have an absolutely crucial role to play in this. After all, we know that it is not a lack of capital that is impeding our progress, but how we deploy it,” he added.
Referring to the COVID-19 crisis, the Prince said it exemplifies the devastating impact global threats can pose to human and economic wellbeing.
Meanwhile, the EBRD’s new Green Economy Transition approach for 2021-2025 is seeking majority green investment and is expected to be the bank’s new blueprint for supporting its countries of operation pursue a green, inclusive, and resilient recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
Moreover, an emergency support programme for infrastructure providers is helping ensure the provision of vital services and the continuation of sustainable infrastructure projects despite acute pressure from the pandemic.