European Investment Bank defends its environmental credentials

During a conference organised by the Centre for European Policies Studies (CEPS) on 19 September, EIB Vice-President Peter Sedgwick highlighted the bank’s increased commitment to environmental objectives.

Speaking at a CEPS conference on 19 September, EIB Vice-President Peter Sedgwick said that in 2002, the EIB lent a total of 17.9 billion Euro for projects tied to environmental objectives, and 1.8 billion Euro of this sum went to environmental projects in acceding countries.

The EIB has been criticised in the past by the CEE Bankwatch Network for investing in environmentally unfriendly projects in Eastern and Central Europe. The NGO coalition was not speaking at the CEPS conference.

 

Commenting on the investment of the Bank in environment on 19 September, Peter Sedgwick, EIB Vice-President, said that the increase in environmental lending follows the evolution of EU policies priorities. He noticed that the importance of environmental issues is not only rising in multilateral financial institutions like the EIB, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), but also in the private sector.

According to the CEE Bankwatch Network, the statistics of the EIB on the environmental lending portfolio are "inflated and misleading" because the EIB "interprets as environmental lending all projects which improve the human created environment, i.e. basically the improvement of the quality of city life." Moreover, the NGOs criticises the fact "that the EIB itself does not have sectorial environmental guidelines for its lending operations and has little in-house capacity to verify environmental impact assessments carried out by project partners."

EIB statistics show that the percentage of financing allocated to environmental projects has been constantly growing between 1999 and 2002 and represents more than one-third of the Bank total lending in 2002. Most of environmental lending by the Bank is in the fields of water, waste, air pollution control, urban transport and renewable energy projects.

This increased importance of environmental issues has lead the EIB to make the protection of the environment one of the key elements taken into account in the appraisal of projects, along the economic and financial viability and the engineering side of the project.

 

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, is in charge of granting loans to support Community policies. The EIB is the biggest public lender in the world with a current portfolio of investments in about 140 countries and an annual lending in the range of 36 billion Euro. More than 18 percent of the EIB’s total lending is outside the European Union. Its resources consist of capital from EU Member States and funds borrowed on the world’s capital markets.

The CEE Bankwatch Network is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) with member organisations from 12 countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS region. It aims to prevent environmentally and socially harmful impacts of international development finance, and to promote alternative solutions and public participation.

 

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