Sustainable development is growth that doesn't burden our children or grandchildren. We at the EBRD believe that the current economic crisis is an opportunity for us all to have a close look at the way we manage our resources and build our future. And we are already doing exactly that in Turkey.

Sir Suma Chakrabarti
Sir Suma Chakrabarti, born in 1959 in West Bengal, India, is the sixth President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The Bank’s Board of Governors elected Sir Suma as President of the EBRD for the next four years, from July 3, 2012. He replaces Thomas Mirow, the President since 2008. Most recently he held the position of Permanent Secretary at the British Ministry of Justice and was its most senior civil servant. Prior to this, from 2002, he headed the UK’s Department for International Development—formerly the Overseas Development Administration (ODA)—where he worked closely with economies undergoing substantial reform in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and North Africa. After studying Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the University of Oxford, Sir Suma took a Master’s in Development Economics at the University of Sussex. He also holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Sussex and East Anglia.

Sustainable development is growth that doesn't burden our children or grandchildren. We at the EBRD believe that the current economic crisis is an opportunity for us all to have a close look at the way we manage our resources and build our future. And we are already doing exactly that in Turkey.

Our understanding of the way resources power growth is changing. For years we believed that resource prices would not increase in real terms. And we assumed that the world around us could absorb our economies' waste products at little or no cost. But as the world's economy has expanded, we have been extracting and consuming resources ever more hungrily, even as climate change threatens to make some of them, such as water and food, scarcer. Commodity prices have risen sharply and in a much more volatile fashion than before.

Of course, as prices rise, so the incentives for efficiencies and innovation increase. Businesses realize that smart approaches to energy and resources will make them more competitive. And in Turkey we can already see that dynamic in action.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invests in 34 countries across Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. Some of them are resource superpowers, sitting on huge natural resource stocks. Others are resource starved, heavily dependent on imports for their energy needs and may also be short of water and thus even more vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

The EBRD invests one-quarter of its annual business volume in projects that promote sustainable energy or, increasingly, the sustainable use of resources. As of now, we have invested over €11 billion in this field and our projects have reduced CO2 emissions by 50 million tons already.

Turkey is one country where our efforts are welcomed not only by the government, but also by the private sector. To date, we have invested more than €1.2 billion in sustainable energy in Turkey, almost half of our total portfolio in the country. EBRD-funded renewable energy generators already produce about 7,000 GWh annually, the equivalent of lighting all homes in a city of 4 million people—almost the size of Ankara.

The bank supports sustainable energy generation through investment in renewable energy, such as wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass, and high-efficiency, gas-fired plants, which are significantly less carbon-intensive than coal. This is achieved through direct investment in large wind farms and gas-fired projects and via credit lines tailored for medium-sized renewable energy generators.

The EBRD also has an extensive program for promoting energy efficiency, saving businesses money in the long run and making them more competitive. Credit lines for businesses and households support this, as do pioneering schemes in which clients pay for energy improvements from savings on their bills.

Other international organizations, most notably the EU and the Clean Technology Fund, are also working with the EBRD to strengthen Turkey's sustainable development and energy independence by providing grants that finance expertise.

At the same time, there are many other ways of championing sustainability. For example, we need to capture the commercial value of waste material when it is produced and boost reutilization and recycling. The EBRD has studied the issue together with the government of Turkey, and we see considerable opportunities here for both the public and private sectors. A lot of industrial waste can be converted into a valuable raw material. A recent EBRD loan to Befesa Silvermet for $49 million will help the company build a zinc recycling plant in Adana. There are more deals we are looking at that will help Turkish businesses turn waste into a resource.

Some say that efficiency, as in energy efficiency, water efficiency, or materials efficiency is not the most rousing of battle cries. I beg to differ. An economy that husbands its energy resources efficiently is an economy that is more competitive and better placed to face the challenges of tomorrow than one that doesn't.

In May 2013, the EBRD held its Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Istanbul under the slogan “Innovating for Growth." The more efficient use of the natural resources around us can be a powerful spur to change. The EBRD will continue to push for more innovation in this area. And we hope that the Sustainable Resource Initiative, which we launched in Turkey at the Annual Meeting, will bring real change to every country where we are active, from Morocco to Mongolia.