Speaking at a side event at the UN Water Conference in New York, Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle stressed the importance of investing in water supply, sanitation, and agricultural irrigation.

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>@Antonie Kerwien/EIB


Dear Ministers Kwape and Juma,

Esteemed Undersecretary-General Fatima,

Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to be here with you to discuss not only the challenges, but also the solutions that Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) contemplate to help them ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The European Investment Bank is strongly committed to working with countries that face great hurdles on their path to sustainable development, be they least-developed, landlocked, or small-island developing states. Our commitment to this agenda is cross-cutting – and Undersecretary-General Fatima knows this all too well, as she has met three high-level representatives of the European Investment Bank within the last few months. Our commitment also exists at all levels of the institution.

The EIB has financed more than €3 billion of projects in Landlocked Developing Countries over the last six years. These projects will improve lives and enhance opportunities in 24 of the 32 countries on the LLDC list.

When we help Malawi’s capital Lilongwe become more drought resilient; when we help build a water-drainage channel in Burkina Faso to stop the recurrent flooding of its capital Ouagadougou; or when we invest in clean water and wastewater collection in Uzbekistan, our goal is to help those countries achieve the SDGs. Our goal is also to help them be better prepared for what, most likely, will be a troubled future. A future in which they are disproportionately exposed to the severe impacts of a changing climate.

Many LLDCs are in dryland regions, where – due to global warming – desertification and land degradation are pronounced. Recurrent droughts in the Sahel or Southern Africa affect food and water security. Lake Chad has shrunk, in large part, due to high temperatures and droughts. The contraction of the Aral Sea is a concern to wide parts of Central Asia. The lack of abundant surface water combined with heatwaves increases the risk of violent wildfires.

Against this backdrop, it is not enough to slow down climate change. We have a moral obligation to help the most fragile countries adapt to it. And well-designed water-sector projects are at the heart of this adaptation. Access to water is crucial for a resilient economy. Investment in more diverse and reliable water sources, rainwater harvesting, reduction in water losses, and desalination are adaptation actions that can improve – and even transform – the water sector. Water is the natural focus for our increased ambition on adaptation finance. We want to triple our adaptation finance by 2025 compared to the past five years.

Coping with too much rain or too little rain is an urgent priority, especially in regions that are already experiencing economic challenges. We need investment in grey and green infrastructure, including, where possible, nature-based solutions that can help reduce the impact of flooding in cities and – for non-LLDCs – in coastal areas, at scale.

We have worked with partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia for almost six decades to unlock transformational investment, and we are stepping up our efforts. Last year we launched EIB Global, our specialised arm for operations outside the EU. EIB Global will build deeper relationships with countries and non-governmental actors, and it will yield better results. EIB Global recently reinforced its office in Nairobi. We expect this East African hub to accelerate our work in the entire region, and we would be delighted to see LLDCs benefit the most. More generally, we are extending our presence in the field, with now 32 offices in partner countries outside the EU.

We have a solid pipeline of projects in Landlocked Developing Countries. It includes substantial investments in water supply, sanitation, and agricultural irrigation. I trust that I will be able to report on some of them when we see each other at the LLDC3 conference in Rwanda in June next year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Landlocked Developing Countries have limited potential to mitigate or adapt to the impacts of climate change. Some lack the financial and technical capacity. They need enhanced international support to build and strengthen adaptation capacity, and to prepare bankable projects.

My message to you today is that the European Investment Bank will provide this support in loans to large-scale projects, or through small-scale water and sanitation measures financed through financial intermediaries or investment funds. When we call on our partner countries to adapt, we also need to stand ready to provide any support they may need.

Thank you for your attention.