Last year, I met many of the leaders that are here with us today, still with a lot of precautions and social distancing, but one sensed optimism that normality would return after the COVID-19 pandemic.
None of us imagined that Russia was planning a war with global consequences. We were quite rightly focused on addressing the fallout of the pandemic, and the twin challenges of digital and green transformation. And, crucially, on how we could turn these challenges into opportunities.
The world has changed since President Von der Leyen first announced the Global Gateway as a new EU geostrategic priority. And the change is, unfortunately, not for the better.
The relevance of the Global Gateway initiative has only increased as we need to:
enhance connections with our partners - those represented here today and many others around the world
address the challenges of food and energy security
double down on the Sustainable Development Goals to counter an alarming trajectory
and protect vulnerable communities globally from the devastating consequences of climate change, COVID, and now - this war.
It is essential to accelerate transformational investment, and we must find adequate models to finance it.
The time is now! The conversations at EDDs must lead us to tangible outcomes, based on true partnership, common priorities, and mutual interests.
At the EIB we stand ready to deliver concrete investment-based solutions for the challenges we are facing.
It seems to me that the War in Ukraine is the strongest possible argument for greening our economies and accelerating our independence from fossil fuels.
This decade remains critical to address our planet's climate emergency. To achieve this, trillions of investments are required. It is clear that the issue cannot be solved by single actors alone.
Last year at the EIB we dedicated more than one third of our lending outside the EU to climate action. In Africa, for example, together with our partners, we are supporting solar energy in Zambia, wind power and geothermal projects in Kenya, hydropower in Liberia, Ghana and Madagascar and off-grid solutions that will improve access to energy for households and micro-entrepreneurs.
We need to continue on this path and multiply our efforts.
I believe the COVID-19 pandemic can offer some useful lessons. At the beginning, everybody thought it would take 3-5 years to develop a new COVID vaccine.
In the end, it took 10 months, thanks to the willingness of investors, like the EIB [with the support of the European Commission], to take risks from which traditional investors shied away.
And only few months later, we are supporting the deployment of mRNA technology in developing countries to tackle COVID and many other diseases.