10/11/17

New USD 405 Million Fiji Water Resilience Scheme Highlighted to World Climate Community

At the COP 23 climate summit Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and President of COP23 today welcomed new support from the European Investment Bank to better protect water infrastructure against extreme weather events in his country. The new long-term loan represents the largest ever support for water investment in a small island state by the world’s largest water financier.

The European Investment Bank, the European Union’s long-term lending institution, will provide USD 75 million for a new USD 405 million investment programme by the Water Authority of Fiji. The scheme will strengthen resilience of water distribution and wastewater treatment following Cyclone Winston, the world’s second strongest storm ever recorded, which hit Fiji in February 2016.

In the presence of Prime Minister Bainimarama, and climate leaders from around the world, the 20 year EIB loan was formally signed at the EIB Pavilion at COP23 by the Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications of the Republic of Fiji and Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank responsible for development and lending operations in the Pacific.

“This welcome financing will be used with funding from the Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the Fijian Government. A great many people in Fiji will benefit from this project, which will cost a total of approximately USD 400 million, and I am grateful to the EIB for its support and its foresight. Financing of projects to build resiliency in developing countries is critical, and I sincerely hope that this project can serve as a model for other developing countries that wish to access blended financing on behalf of their own people,” said Frank Bainimarama Prime Minister of Fiji and President of COP23.

“As the bank of the European Union, the European Investment Bank recognises the crucial importance of investing in water and improving access to clean water and sanitation worldwide. Small island states are vulnerable to a changing climate as witnessed by the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston in Fiji last year. We are pleased to support the transformation of the water infrastructure on the island of Viti Levu that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Fijians and better protect key services from extreme weather in the future. This record EIB loan for water investment in a small island state reflects the professionalism of the Water Authority of Fiji and excellent cooperation preparing this new investment programme. Here at COP23 Fiji is leading discussions to ensure a better future for our planet and this project is already demonstrating best practice to help overcome water challenges around the world.” said Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

More than 275,000 people currently living around the capital city of Suva will benefit from the project that will both help to improve current service levels and reduce leakages and enable quicker resumption of water supply following cyclones.

The scheme includes construction of a new water treatment plant and upgrading existing wastewater treatment facilities, as well as improving and expanding water networks. Once complete the scheme is expected to support a number of sustainable development goals including health, economic development and sustainable urban growth. The new water investment is also financed by the Fijian Government, Asian Development Bank and Green Climate Fund.

Ahead of the signing ceremony the EIB hosted a workshop to outline practical experience gained from three water projects around the world to enhance climate resilience. Priyaraj Lakmal Munasinghe, CEO of the Water Authority of Fiji and representatives of the Lilongwe Water Board in Malawi and the EUR 5 billion Emsche River Renovation project highlighted key issues to consider and discussed how to overcome practical challenges with climate experts at COP23.

Over the last decade the EIB has provided more than USD 40 billion for water investment around the world in Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Pacific.