In this issue: Kyoto in Bonn * Combating poverty in Georgia * Oil revenues for Weapons * Nukes in Ukraine * EIB Info Policy * EBRD - Language Apartheid * PVC ban in Slovakia * Two new World Bank strategies * Yugoslavia Gets USD 1,3 billion
As the Kyrgyz Republic is an Early Transition Country with limited capacity for additional external borrowing and in light of recent political events in the country, Bankwatch emphasizes that the EBRD must carefully weigh and analyse any project it considers for financing in this particularly vulnerable country.
The new version of the investment programme for a new unit at the Sostanj lignite power plant was prepared by the project promoter after the Slovene government expressed doubts over the economic viability of the investment. All the three previous versions of the document were hidden from the public eye.
Serbian and international civil society organisations call on the EBRD board of directors not to finance the Kolubara lignite mine project since it would constitute the indirect support of human rights violations committed by the project promoter and furthering coal dependency in the Serbian energy sector.
The letter poses questions regarding the environmental and social appraisal for the Kolubara lignite mine project and the due diligence carried out by the EBRD before the project's approval by the EBRD:
How has the EBRD assessed the corporate behaviour of the Kolubara and EPS companies towards communities affected by the extension of mining operations?
How has the EBRD defined the project's influence in the Kolubara basin?
Can EBRD staff provide studies or numbers justifying Serbia's need for further growth of coal production?
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and German development Bank KfW are considering supporting the development of a new field in the lignite open pit mine in the Kolubara mining complex in Serbia. Interestingly, the investment is categorised as "Environmental Improvement" on the EBRD's website. But no matter how efficient future processing is, investments into perpetuating lignite production - the dirtiest of fossil fuels - instead of clean electricity generation alternatives rather resembles re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic than serious 'environmental improvement'.
Bankwatch and the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest wrote to the Global Compact on 28th March 2011 regarding Vinci's non-compliance with its Global Compact Commitments in relation to the first section of the Moscow – St. Petersburg motorway project. Our letter subsequently formed the basis of an enquiry to Vinci by the Business and Human Rights and Human Resource Centre, to which Vinci responded on 26th April 2011. Having carefully reviewed Vinci's response, we still believe that the company is not in compliance with its Global Compact commitments.
The revised Public Information Policy (PIP) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) adopts only few of the NGOs' proposals submitted during the first stage of commenting, therefore missing the opportunity to improve the draft. We insist that the detailed comments submitted in January should be further considered by the EBRD before drafting its final PIP. These comments concentrate on several priority issues, in addition to those submitted in January.
The current draft of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's public information policy lacks several provisions and innovations which should be considered the latest best practice in information disclosure in multilateral development banks.
As the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development celebrates twenty years of market and democracy promotion in central and eastern Europe, Bankwatch evaluates the institution's activities since its inception and concludes the bank needs to move swiftly and genuinely towards prioritizing social justice and lowering carbon intensity of economies, if it wants to bring real benefits to the region.
On the occasion of the EBRD's 20th anniversary, Bankwatch Mail is complemented by a range of personal reflections from people both within and beyond central and eastern Europe, people who have worked directly on issues related to the EBRD, or who have studied the bank's impacts.
In 2010, the EBRD approved a EUR 100 million loan for the Sostanj lignite power plant unit 6 (TES 6) project with a further EUR 100 million syndicated to commercial banks. A recent report on the management of the project has important implications for the EBRD's involvement and raises questions about the project appraisal process that led the EBRD to approve the project.
The oil and gas-fired thermo-power plant in Vlora, Albania - in a tourism-dependent city and only 100 metres from the protected Narta lagoon - was financed by the EBRD, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank.
After a slew of problems, including lack of proper public consultation, the plant is not actually working - two years after it was supposed to have been completed – and it is increasingly doubtful whether it will start to produce electricity any time soon.
The EBRD is and has been involved in a number of high voltage electricity transmission lines in Ukraine that eventually would lay the technical groundwork to export nuclear and coal-based electricity to the EU.
In the Ukrainian electricity transmission field, the EBRD should focus its efforts on utilising the massive potential to increase the reliability and efficiency of Ukraine’s energy system through the modernisation of existing grid, especially low-voltage local grid below 110kV where power losses now are two times higher than average in the EU.