Everything is intertwined. With the pandemic, we face a short-term crisis, but we cannot for a moment set aside the long-term threat from climate change. And the solution to these global issues is beyond the capacity of even the most powerful country or region—we must work globally. We must, if you like, intertwine ourselves more and more. Our diplomacy, our values, our innovations and our investments must aim to resolve the problems of everyone in the world, or they will fix nothing at all.
Development work of the kind you have read about in this report contributes to the answer.
The European Investment Bank takes EU policy and imprints it on the real economy, wherever we work. Outside the European Union, we signed €10 billion in investment in 2020, half of it in Africa. We accelerated disbursement and boosted our aid to existing projects. From microfinance to big public loans, we focused on a swift response to COVID-19—without forgetting that we believe in a green recovery that reorientates economies and sets up developing countries for a sustainable, resilient future.
We made a strong commitment to Team Europe with the European Commission on COVAX, and we backed a range of other health investments. Partnerships such as Team Europe have become extremely important in providing quick and decisive action across a range of organisations and even continents. The result is greater effectiveness and impact on the ground—and lives improved and saved. Because we have all been affected by the pandemic, our projects recognise that we cannot produce vaccines only for industrialised countries. Yes, our health is also intertwined. In Africa, other diseases are often a greater threat than COVID-19, in fact. With the kENUP Foundation, we launched a project to scale up local production of drug components in Africa.
Beyond the pandemic, we see the continuing climate crisis and its impact on developing countries, such as the small island nations of the Pacific, which are so threatened by rising sea levels. Africa is the region that contributes the least to greenhouse gas emissions and yet is heavily impacted by climate change. Its growing population and economic progress calls for a rapid increase of electricity supply, with sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency measures the basis for long-term prosperity. That is why cooperation between Africa and Europe is so important. Europe is a global leader in the renewables sector, which positions European stakeholders well to cooperate with Africa in its endeavour to move from fossil fuels towards Paris Agreement goals. Our well-targeted investments can assist the green transition and contribute to social development. They strengthen the adaptive capacity of the people and regions most at risk from climate change.
We aim to do more on biodiversity and adaptation in developing countries, and to decarbonise the grid with projects that often link renewable energy to expanding digital industries, like our work with Orange in Guinea, where diesel generators for mobile phone towers are replaced by solar panels. We will continue to mobilise investment for women entrepreneurs. Our SheInvest initiative has been a great success in supporting microfinance for women and women’s participation in the agricultural value chain. We bring a gender lens to the kinds of projects that, in the past, failed to take women into account, such as our investments in Indian urban transport. We ensure that there are women drivers and women-only cars that allow women to travel there with a feeling of security.
We have a range of instruments from loan guarantees and direct equity to senior loans, as well as technical assistance in the preparation of projects. We also invest in funds that help small companies in Africa, and others that build innovative renewable energy projects across the developing world. In every sector, our toolbox is diverse. Because everyone is intertwined, but everyone is not the same. Our approach is nuanced enough to cope with this reality.
The climate objectives we have set for ourselves in the last year include developing countries as an integral part of what we aim to achieve. Security from climate change is like all our other objectives, from economic prosperity to better health and more inclusive societies—so long as any part of the world lacks it, the quality of all our lives is lessened. At the European Investment Bank, we are ambitious for Europe and for the entire world.
Ambroise Fayolle and Thomas Östros
Vice-Presidents for development
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