Environment, sustainable development and social integration
Environment and climate action
Climate change is one of the major risk drivers for social inequality. While affecting all, the poorest are likely to suffer most. Protecting vulnerable populations, whether from climate disruptions, urban sprawl or other environmental pressures, is at the core of the CEB’s mandate.
Building resilience to climate change into project design
The CEB systematically looks at the possibilities for reducing the carbon footprint for the projects it funds. Together with the borrower, the Bank explores ways of improving the project’s design and implementation to optimise resilience and minimise climate change impacts. By integrating climate change considerations into the design and implementation of projects, the CEB aims to provide beneficiaries with access to infrastructure that is safer, more robust and entails lower operational costs.
In 2016, the CEB adopted a new Environmental and Social Safeguards Policy that integrates lessons learned during the past five years of operational experience, accommodates new CEB lending instruments, clarifies the ways in which social safeguard issues are addressed, and ensures consistency with international best practices.
By reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions, energy efficiency measures constitute an important part of climate change mitigation. In 2016, the CEB continued to make investments in energy-efficiency projects through direct loans to municipalities and regions or intermediary banks, a large portion of which goes to greening residential buildings.
The CEB blended its € 14 million sovereign loan to Georgia with a grant from the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P) to assist the authorities in their objective to introduce energy efficiency into the national social sector infrastructure. With this CEB funding, approximately 25 public school buildings will be renovated to include energy efficiency measures, benefitting at least 15 000 school children.
While millions of Europeans still face a stark choice between “heating or eating”, the CEB’s financial support for improving energy efficiency in households also helps fight energy poverty and increase the resilience of the most vulnerable segments of society.
Sustainable development and social integration
The CEB’s investments in key social fields, such as affordable housing, health, and education, significantly contribute to inclusive development in the member countries. At a time when cuts in public spending exacerbate rising inequalities, CEB funding ensures that vital public services continue to be provided.
European citizens spend an increasing amount of their income on housing, a trend that disproportionately affect people at risk of poverty. At the same time, governments across the continent are struggling to provide affordable housing solutions.
Improving access to social and affordable housing represents a significant share of the CEB’s lending activity. In 2016, the Bank invested almost € 1 billion to provide decent housing at an affordable price to socially vulnerable groups such as low-income households, migrants, the elderly, single families, people with disabilities and other Europeans living in precarious conditions.
Education plays a crucial role in helping people acquire basic skills and preparing them for the job market. It also promotes common values and contributes to building cohesive societies. The arrival of large numbers of refugees and migrants in Europe makes inclusive education more important than ever.
Against the backdrop of increasing needs for public investment in education across the continent, the CEB continues to provide support to the sector. In 2016, the CEB invested € 719 million in education and vocational training projects across Europe. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Hungary and Sweden all benefited from funds to improve the quality and inclusiveness of education.
Investing in local infrastructure
The CEB’s investments in local infrastructure – including the construction of day-care centres, playgrounds, green areas, social care facilities and local transport – improve living conditions for millions of Europeans and contribute to the social inclusion of the most vulnerable.
Whether through direct lending to governments and municipalities or on-lending operations with commercial banks, the CEB sees its role as a provider of “downstream” support to local communities in order to fill the funding gaps for the successful implementation of socially-oriented investments corresponding to national priorities.
Flexible financing for greater impact
To better respond to borrower needs, the CEB’s Development Plan 2014-2016 introduced two flexible financial instruments: Public Sector Financing Facility and EU Co-financing Facility. Since 2014 the Bank approved more than € 1 billion in loans using these two instruments.
Loans granted under the CEB’s EU Co-financing Facility (ECF) facilitate better absorption of EU funds in the CEB’s member countries, helping countries, regions and municipalities address social investment needs, advance economic development, and reduce regional imbalances. They maximise the benefits of the European Structural and Investment Funds and enable the CEB to augment the impact of its funding.
In 2016, the CEB extended a € 200 million ECF loan to Bulgaria, to partially finance the investment priorities of the EU Partnership Agreement with Bulgaria. The CEB funds will help to ensure the smooth implementation of national operational programmes and make a significant contribution to promoting regional development and strengthening Bulgaria’s economic and social cohesion.