The European Investment Bank (EIB), the bank of the European Union (EU), officially inaugurated its new representation office in Suva Tuesday, covering Fiji and the Pacific region.

The new EIB office will be located on the premises of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific. It will strengthen the European Union’s partnership with the region and enhance the EIB’s technical and financial support for environmental and climate action projects and for green infrastructure development, areas that are fully in line with the Fijian government’s priorities and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders.

At the opening ceremony for the Suva office, EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics of Fiji Biman Chand Prasad were joined by the Deputy Director General for International Partnerships of the European Commission Myriam Ferran and the Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific Sujiro Seam. Also in attendance were other high-level representatives, government officials, local partners, multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, local financial institutions, and other stakeholders.

EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, who is in charge of EIB operations in the Pacific, said: “With the opening of an EIB representation office in Suva, the bank of the European Union is demonstrating its growing ambition to be closer to the people, companies and institutions of the Pacific region, and to invest more in projects there. What we aim to do is reinforce Team Europe’s presence on the ground. This office will be another bridge between the region and the European Union, including as part of the EU Global Gateway initiative. It will help address key issues such as climate change and climate resilience, the energy crisis and food insecurity more efficiently. Looking ahead, I am confident that we will be able to make a difference in helping to unlock green, sustainable and empowering growth and development for Fiji and the Pacific region.”

Biman Chand Prasad, Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics said: “This is a great moment for both EIB and the Government of Fiji as this marks an important milestone in our EU-Fiji partnership. It is indeed a sign of trust and confidence placed by EIB in the future of our country and shows EIB’s willingness to not only deepen its engagement with Fiji but expand its role in the region.”

Myriam Ferran, Deputy Director General for International Partnerships of the European Commission (DG INTPA), said: “The opening of the new EIB regional office in the Pacific will be instrumental in implementing the Global Gateway, the EU infrastructure investment strategy rooted in partnership, sustainability and the rule of law. It demonstrates the European Union’s commitment to sustainable growth and to strengthening the resilience of our partners around the world in a competitive geopolitical landscape. The presence of the EIB office in the Delegation of the European Union premises is a clear sign of the Team Europe spirit in which we want to work for the benefit of our partners.”

The Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific Sujiro Seam said: “The opening of the EIB representation office for the Pacific strengthens Team Europe (the European Union, its Member States and financial institutions), helps increase engagement between the European Union and the Pacific and reinforces Fiji’s position as a hub for the Pacific.”

Strengthening the impact of EIB Global and Team Europe in Fiji and the Pacific

Since the launch of its operations in the Pacific in the 1960s, the EIB has granted more than €760 million in loans and equity, mobilising more than €5.1 billion in investment. The EIB has been actively engaged in Fiji, having invested €180 million (FJD 425 million). The EIB supports EU external priorities in Fiji and the Pacific, lending to public and private sector projects in countries in the Pacific region that have a strong development impact and promote economic stability, sustainable growth and employment.

Thanks to the work of the EIB representation office for the Pacific in Suva, the Bank is building up a new pipeline of operations for the Pacific in collaboration with the European Commission. These include areas such as renewable energy (hydropower plant project in Fiji), water and sanitation (project in Timor-Leste) and connectivity (rehabilitation and greening of port infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and a multipurpose port in Kiribati).

Benoît Cambier, the new head of the EIB representation office for the Pacific, said: “Opening the EIB representation office in Suva is a clear sign of our profound dedication to Fiji and the Pacific region. As a well-established and reliable partner, this new office will help EIB Global to boost cooperation in the region and scale up its support for climate action, including climate change adaptation and mitigation, recovery and resilience, and environmental protection and the sustainable management of natural resources. The goal of our new office in the Pacific is also to develop new partnerships and reinforce our current ones. With a permanent EIB presence in Fiji, we expect to foster our cooperation with the European Commission, other partners and donors in delivering even more targeted support for key projects in the Pacific region under Team Europe’s Global Gateway and Green-Blue Alliance for the Pacific initiatives.”

Accelerating clean energy from hydropower in Fiji

As the EU climate bank, the EIB will continue to support and accelerate Fiji’s ambitious climate action and green transition goals, in particular by investing in hydropower projects.

In this regard, EIB Global signed a letter of intent with the Fijian national utility provider Energy Fiji Limited to support two major renewable energy projects, namely the Qaliwana and Vatutokotoko hydropower plants. The projects will help to increase the share of renewable energy in Fiji’s generation capacity, bringing it up to 75 percent from its current level of 60 percent.

Supporting clean and safe water in Fiji

Improving access to clean water and sanitation is an area where the EIB already cooperates with the government of Fiji. It has now teamed up with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Green Climate Fund to finance a water and wastewater project. This includes the construction of a new water treatment plant in Viria and an upgrade of existing wastewater treatment facilities. It will also improve and expand water networks in Fiji.

Representatives of the EIB and ADB, along with the management of the Water Authority of Fiji and the Minister for Public Works, Communications, Transport and Meteorological Services Ro Filipe Tuisawau, undertook a tour of the ongoing construction works in Viria to see first hand how the project is progressing.

Strengthening partnerships for the benefit of the Pacific Island States and Territories

Ahead of the EIB office opening in Suva, EIB Vice-President Fayolle and Agence Française de Développement’s Pacific Ocean Regional Director Virginie Bleitrach signed a letter of intent between the two institutions in Nouméa, capital of the French overseas collectivity of New Caledonia.

Strengthening their ties, AFD and EIB Global — which are the only European lenders present in the Pacific region — confirmed their intention to integrate their joint action in developing, preparing and financially supporting investments in the Pacific, including in the French overseas countries and territories belonging to the region. A first example of what this collaboration could bring is the promising prospect in Papua New Guinea, looking at rehabilitating and greening the country’s port infrastructure with EU support under Team Europe.