The FINANCIAL -- Efforts to secure a clean and safe environment for the citizens of the Georgian capital Tbilisi will receive a major boost under a Green City Action Plan (GCAP) approved by the municipal authorities on September 29.
Lin O’Grady, EBRD Deputy Director, Municipal and Environmental Infrastructure, welcomed the decision: “We are very proud that with today’s approval the implementation can now begin. Together we have been able to develop a plan that will have maximum impact on the environment and bring other social and economic benefits for the city. While the plan is challenging, we believe that it will be possible to deliver over the next five years as the EBRD, the Georgian authorities and donors continue their strong and fruitful cooperation.”
The Plan includes measures to improve areas such as water and wastewater services, solid waste management, energy, local industry development, the resilience of buildings, and energy efficiency, as well as transport. It was developed by the City of Tbilisi with the support of the EBRD and financial support provided by the Czech Republic.
Since Georgia’s independence in 1991 Tbilisi has attracted a growing number of visitors, and developed from being an insiders’ tip to an increasingly popular destination. While the city offers a special heritage, in many respects Tbilisi has reached the limits of what its ageing and outdated infrastructure can sustain.
For example, 400,000 cars were registered in Tbilisi, of which 74 per cent were over 15 years old, according to 2013 data. Around 90 per cent of air pollution in the city comes from transport, with diesel-powered vehicles the major contributor as most city buses and all minibuses and taxis use diesel. Improving traffic flows in Tbilisi will also reduce levels of pollution and congestion, according to EBRD.
Under the GCAP, Tbilisi’s new Strategic Vision of a Sustainable City Mobility System envisages an efficient, attractive and competitive public transport system. The bus fleet will be renewed with low-emission buses with high safety standards. Steps towards this goal were taken last year, when the EBRD provided a €27 million sovereign loan to the city of Tbilisi for the acquisition of up to 200 new buses that are fueled by compressed natural gas.
The Tbilisi Green City Action Plan will also expand non-motorised transport, optimise the road infrastructure network (with public transport a priority), and upgrade the traffic management system.
Similar steps will boost the city’s infrastructure. As a result, the implementation of the total GCAP is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by around 450,000 tonnes per year and to save around 55 million m3 of water per year. Implementation of the Plan is estimated to cost €412 million, half of which will be sought from private sector partners or the government of Georgia.
Bruno Balvanera, EBRD Director for the Caucasus, Moldova and Belarus, added: “It is paramount for growing cities to have innovative infrastructure to mitigate the consequences of population growth and climate change. The EBRD constantly invests in projects that make people’s lives better through greater investment in energy efficiency, renewables and green transport. We have already financed environmentally friendly buses in Tbilisi and Batumi, and supported solid-waste management projects, and we continue to modernise Tbilisi’s vital municipal infrastructure.”
David Narmania, Mayor of Tbilisi, noted: “The Green City Action Plan combines the strategic directions and priorities of our city. We will make sure that the implementation will be based on adequate urban and environmental planning, satisfying the population's growing needs and creating more effective governance for the well-being of our city.”
Promoting sustainable and environmentally sound investments is one of the EBRD’s priorities in Georgia. To date, the Bank has invested over €2.8 billion in 205 projects. The Green City Action Plan is based on the EBRD Green Cities Programme adopted in 2016 based on the EBRD’s two decades of experience investing in municipal and environmental infrastructure. Also, the GCAP falls under the Green Economy Transition approach to put investments that bring environmental benefits at the heart of EBRD’s mandate.
“The Tbilisi GCAP is a significant milestone for both the city and the Bank,” said Nigel Jollands, EBRD Associate Director, Policy and Climate Finance. “It is the second GCAP to be approved after Yerevan. Together, the Yerevan and Tbilisi GCAPs represent the EBRD’s new approach to supporting cities to systematically plan for, and deliver, a clean and safe environment for their citizens.”