The European Investment Bank (EIB) has renewed its policy on lending to water projects to adjust it to the developments and challenges of this important sector. The renewed water lending policy will help the EIB to further strengthen its role as a major global financier of the sector, and as the “EU Water Bank”. The document has been presented at major conferences, among them at the recent Stockholm Water Week and at the International Water Association’s World Water Congress held this week in Vienna.

From Spain and Portugal to Greece and Cyprus as well as in the wider Mediterranean region coastal cities in several countries continue to experience drinking water supply emergencies due to severe droughts. On the other hand, catastrophic floods have devastated parts of Central and Northern Europe in recent years, causing loss of lives and significant economic damage. On a global level, more than 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and in Africa seven out of ten people are in need of basic sanitation. The increasing importance of water issues and the problems highlighted above are clearly reflected in the EU’s environment and development policies, with water being one of the most comprehensively regulated areas of EU environmental legislation.

The EIB’s involvement adds significant value to water projects through project preparation, as well as advisory and technical assistance activities. The Bank’s intervention will be predicated on maximizing value added, and priorities will be determined on this basis. The EIB disposes of key strengths that make it unique among financing institutions, in particular the transfer of sector and project experience from the EU to other parts of the world.

It is against this background that the Bank has developed a renewed water sector lending policy. It takes into account the EU policy drivers to define a set of principles and actions that respond to major challenges, and that will consolidate the role of the Bank as a key contributor to investments in the water sector. With its renewed water sector policy, the EIB disposes of a comprehensive document to reaffirm its commitment as a major lender to the water sector inside and outside the EU]; enhance the Bank’s good track record, provide further leverage, increase its value added in the sector, and enhance the EIB’s climate change policy by complementing the ongoing mitigation measures with an adaptation strategy.

The complete text of the EIB’s Water Sector Lending Policy can be found on the EIB web site:

Note to Editor

Since its inception in 1958, the EIB has been playing a key role in the development of the EU water sector. The Bank has emerged as the largest source of loan financing to the global water sector, compared with all other International Financing Institutions. In the last five years the Bank lent EUR 10 billion directly to water and wastewater projects, of which 88% was in the EU-27. Water projects in all their forms constitute an important component to support environmental protection and sustainable communities, one of the EIB’s six lending objectives inside the EU as per its Corporate Operational Plan 2008-10, and an increasing share of its activities in Partner Countries. The other five lending objectives for the EIB comprise support to economic and social cohesion; implementation of the Innovation 2010 Initiative; development of Trans-European Networks; support for SMEs as well as funding of sustainable and secure energy.