The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed today in London to deepen their cooperation and establish a strategic partnership to promote sustainable maritime transport, according to the Bank’s website.
The cooperation was formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Phil Bennett, EBRD First Vice President, and Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General.
Under the agreement, the EBRD and the IMO will exchange know-how and experience and will work together with national governments, in countries where both institutions are active, to help them implement frameworks for a fair, effective and sustainable maritime industry.
Initially, the cooperation will focus on Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey and cover topics such as attracting more investment in the sector, tackling climate change, enhancing energy efficiency and promoting the highest standards of health and safety.
A UN agency with 173 member states and three associate members, the IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the facilitation of maritime traffic, and the security, safety and environmental performance of international shipping.
The EBRD is a multilateral bank, owned by 66 countries as well as the European Union and the European Investment Bank. It promotes the development of the private sector and entrepreneurial initiative in 38 economies, across three continents. The Bank’s investments are aimed at making the economies in its regions competitive, inclusive, well governed, green, resilient and integrated. To date, it has invested €1.2 billion in the maritime sector, including ports, shipyards and shipping firms across 19 countries.
“Applying its green principles, the EBRD is investing in ports, shipyards and shipping companies to encourage development of the ‘motorways of the sea’, an international vision to transform shipping into an environmentally friendly alternative to land transport. With the IMO’s expertise we want to help the economies where we invest, and the companies we finance, to make maritime transport greener and more sustainable,” said Bennett.
Lim, in his turn, noted that this strategic partnership, combining the IMO’s global mandate and outreach and the EBRD’s experience and expertise in investment and finance, is expected to contribute a great deal to sustainable maritime transport and the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
International shipping transports more than 80 percent of global trade to people and communities all over the world. Shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transport for most goods; it provides a dependable, low-cost means of transporting goods globally, facilitating commerce and helping to create prosperity among nations.
The EBRD is an international financial institution founded in 1991. As a multilateral developmental investment bank, the EBRD uses investment as a tool to build market economies.
Azerbaijan has been cooperating with the EBRD since 1997. Since the start of its operations in the country, the bank has invested over €2.3 billion in 163 projects in the financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors, with 58 percent of those investments in the private sector.
The EBRD’s efforts in Azerbaijan aim to help diversify the economy away from a dependence on energy and natural resources. The Bank has invested in many smaller, private sector non-energy projects. They each have a positive impact in helping to build the private sector and enhance skills.
The Bank allocated over €294 million since the beginning of cooperation to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Azerbaijan. It also provided €233 million in indirect finance, supporting an SME lending portfolio of banks reaching over 94,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises annually.
More than 850 SMEs in Azerbaijan have received consulting assistance since 2003, including assistance to improve accounting, to enter new markets, and work under the Women in Business program, whose goal is to provide financial and consulting assistance to companies run by female entrepreneurs.