New partnership boosts urban regeneration, green buildings & sustainable / inclusive tourism to revitalize local economies

Urban regeneration, green buildings and sustainable and inclusive tourism with links to the local economy are the priorities of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development‘s (EBRD) new strategy for the property and tourism sector, approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors on October 3, 2019. To date, the EBRD has invested over €3.3 billion in around 200 projects in the property and tourism sector.

In particular, their new strategy will guide the Bank’s investments and policy work for the period 2020-24 with an emphasis on:

  • managing and developing green and sustainable buildings;
  • investing in an inclusive and competitive hospitality and tourism sector;
  • promoting urban regeneration initiatives for more competitive, sustainable and greener cities; and
  • supporting the diversification of funding sources for real estate development and ownership through capital markets, thereby facilitating the sector’s resilience.

Vlaho Kojakovic, EBRD Head of Property and Tourism, said “A vibrant property and tourism sector is crucial for functioning economies. We are proud that the new strategy supports economic growth and promotes social inclusion in the EBRD economies, aiming to respond to challenges such as urbanisation and climate change. Greener buildings, promoting inclusive tourism and supporting urban regeneration are at the heart of the strategy.

From 2020-24 the Bank will target investments in commercial, logistics and residential real estate, as well as in hospitality and hotels. The EBRD regions have enormous potential in tourism which remains widely untapped and needs to be developed carefully and responsibly.

Real estate stock is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 30 per cent of global emissions. Despite the fact that associated emissions from buildings need to be reduced by 80-90 per cent by 2050 to stay under the 1.5 °C warming limit, the EBRD’s regions still lag behind advanced economies, in terms of adopting of sustainable development practices, implementing advanced environmental regulation and utilizing climate resilient components.

In this spirit, the EBRD property and tourism strategy is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. It also enhances the role greener buildings and cities can play in addressing climate change challenges.

In addition, the strategy underpins the significance of the hospitality sector in driving economic growth and generating sustainable and inclusive employment opportunities. A sustainable tourism sector has the potential to become a leader in creating high-quality local jobs, especially for young people and women, strengthening local supply chains and increasing regional integration and resilience.

(L-r) EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. Photo courtesy of EBRD.

A day later, on October 4, 2019, the EBRD and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) joined forces to strengthen sustainable and inclusive tourism as a tool for achieving growth and development.

Under an MoU, signed by EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid, the two institutions pledge to work together in promoting and fostering tourism for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The MoU is also aligned with the new property and tourism strategy the EBRD published yesterday.

In particular, the EBRD and UNWTO are looking for ways to strengthen the role of the tourism sector for social, economic and environmental development for regional integration and economic diversification.

EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti said, “I am very delighted to be working with UNWTO to promote sustainable and inclusive tourism across the EBRD regions. Travel and tourism represent a vitally important and fast-growing sector of the global economy, and can benefit poorer, more remote regions, opening up job opportunities, promoting economic inclusion for all and facilitating the transfer of valuable skills. These are all objectives central to the EBRD’s mission.

Fostering education and training in tourism for job creation and socioeconomic inclusion, by adopting the best practices to increase and improve skillsets in the sector, is a key priority for both the EBRD and UNWTO. The two institutions will also look to strengthen tourism governance and institutions, promote policy dialogue at national and regional level on matters of common concern, facilitate investments and advocate for the increase of Official Development Aid flows to the tourism sector, including through UNWTO.

The EBRD and UNWTO are longstanding partners. In 2015, the two institutions signed an agreement in the framework of the EBRD’s commitment for supporting inclusive and sustainable tourism in the economies where the Bank invests, particularly in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region and the Western Balkans.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili commented, “Tourism has become a central part of the global sustainable development agenda. Strengthening our partnership with the EBRD will help us drive the sector forward, deliver change in the tourism climate and digital economy and help guide the growth of tourism in a responsible and inclusive manner for the benefit of all. We are happy to be your tourism intelligence and action partner.

The new strategy was presented at an event organized by the EBRD in Piraeus, Greece on October 8, 2019.

Photo of the Port of Piraeus in Athens, Greece via Adobe Stock.

See EBRD website.

See UNWTO website.

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