It is fitting that in the year of its 25th anniversary, the EBRD once again proved capable of navigating a challenging world to deliver strong results. High levels of transition impact arose from the Bank’s increased support for policy reform in combination with investments. During 2016, robust policy engagement accompanied €9.4 billion of investment in 378 projects – equalling the record amount invested in 2015.
Highlights of the year included a large number of operations in countries at earlier stages of the transition process, a 33 per cent share of Annual Bank Investment in support of transition to a green economy, numerous projects that further gender equality, and innovative ventures that seek to develop local currency lending and capital markets.
Between now and 2020, I have pledged to deliver still greater transition impact in our region, which stretches from Mongolia in Central Asia to Morocco on the Atlantic coast.
In order to help us do that, we have adopted a fresh approach to defining transition that clarifies how the EBRD should fulfil its mission of developing strong market economies.
The Bank’s activities can help countries become more competitive, better governed, greener, more inclusive, more resilient and better integrated. Under the EBRD’s revised concept of transition, these six qualities will inform our investment decisions and policy dialogue engagements.
This sharpening of our focus comes as global economic challenges continue to affect the regions where we invest. Geopolitical and security concerns also weigh heavily on the economies of some EBRD countries of operations. It is a demanding environment that requires a flexible approach on the part of the Bank. Accordingly, in 2016 we launched a programme to ensure we are as lean and responsive as possible in order to maximise our external effectiveness. I am pleased to report that this is already yielding good results.
We are flexible – but also steadfast. There can be no greater example of that than our role in making safe the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine, the site of the 1986 accident. The successful sliding into place of the New Safe Confinement (NSC), a dome to encase the damaged building and stop radiation leaking out, was one of the high points of 2016 for me. The EBRD manages the NSC project and has heavily funded it along with other donors. The NSC is an engineering marvel and a tribute to internationalism that the New York Times described as “a model … of what humanity can do in the face of a real danger that no one country … could manage”.
Internationalism and multilateralism drive our desire to help our countries of operations improve and succeed. Chernobyl is a potent symbol of the values that we bring to all aspects of our mission.