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Water and wastewater management

A healthy water sector is critical to economic growth and competitiveness. By 2025, 800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and the stress of diminishing water resources will be felt by two-thirds of the world’s population. This, alongside ageing or insufficient infrastructure and poor water and wastewater management has a lasting impact on people, economic activities and the environment.

As the largest lender to the global water sector to date, with almost EUR 64bn for some 1 400 projects, we are making water security for economic growth a priority. In 2015, we provided nearly EUR 4bn in finance for water related projects, bringing access to safe drinking water to 21 million people and improved sanitation to 20 million people.


The EIB supports investment to:

  • increase secure access to water resources
  • protect against destructive water-related events
  • ensure reliable provision of sustainable and affordable water and wastewater-related services both in quantity and quality to all stakeholders, and
  • promote the increase in energy efficiency measures and recovery mechanisms.

For wastewater our lending comprises facilities for treatment and disposal of residual waste, and increasingly, infrastructure aimed at increasing the levels of materials and bio-waste recycling, where the latter can also enable generation of renewable energy from bio-gas.

This integrated approach - water for energy and at energy for water - aims to ensure that both water and energy resources are developed sustainably  and that water and energy services are produced and consumed efficiently. Efficient allocation is based on the consideration of all end-user needs and is therefore a cornerstone of water, energy and food security.

Our water financing in numbers

The energy/water connection

Population growth in the Great Lisbon area has increased demand for water significantly in the last decade. To respond to the challenge, Empresa Portuguesa das Águas Livres (EPAL) refocused its attention on improving the water distribution network through increased energy and water efficiency. We supported this effort by financing 50% of the operation with an overall cost of EUR 140m.

Award-winning water and sanitation investments in eThekwini

A EUR 50m EIB loan has financed a considerable share of the 2009-2014 eThekwini (formerly Durban) Water and Sanitation investment programme in the South African metropolitan area, which is home to over 4 million inhabitants. The project supported the extension of access to basic services for a vast and diverse population, while improving the efficiency of the water supply system via innovative technologies. The project provides first-time access to piped drinking water for 1.3 million people and to sanitation services for 700 000 people.

Water security: So that the economy doesn’t dry up

If a company or a community doesn’t have enough water, the money dries up too. “Water security” is a major economic issue—and not just in deserts. It’s a big challenge for European cities like Turin, too, and will be the theme of World Water Week in Stockholm at the end of August. “Water is as important as electricity to economic growth,” says Thomas van Gilst, who heads the European Investment Bank’s water management division. “Water risk is one of the greatest risks to businesses.”


We have a wide range of products to support public and private investments offering flexibility, expertise and creativity to get projects off the ground