Environmental protection and natural resource efficiency

The EU’s environment policy is aimed at greening the European economy, protecting the natural environment, and safeguarding the health and quality of life of European citizens. In 2017, first signatures in environmental projects totalled EUR 4.0 billion.

Strategic context for EIB’s 2017 operations to protect the environment

EU legislation has established more than 130 separate environmental targets and objectives to be met between 2010 and 2050. A key Europe 2020 target is to cut energy consumption by 20% relative to “business-as-usual” projections by 2020. The EU’s environment policy for the period up to 2020 is set out in the Seventh Environment Action Programme which identifies three key objectives:

  • protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital;
  • help develop a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon European economy; and,
  • protect EU citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing.


These objectives are to be met in a number of ways including through increased and smarter investment for the environment and climate policy. The EIB has a key role to play here.

Types of EIB operations to protect the environment

The EIB provides long-term financing and guarantees for investment in a range of projects that help to protect the environment. Sectors supported include:

  • forestry - afforestation and rehabilitation of degraded areas and low productivity forests. This helps mitigate the effects of climate change through carbon sequestration, prevents soil erosion and increases soil water retention capacity to improve fresh water quality and reduce the risk of floods;
  • development of water resources - drinking water and waste water management. Water scarcity and flooding are threats which are being exacerbated by climate change;
  • solid waste management – support for progress towards a resource-efficient circular economy through increased investment in recycling and energy recovery from waste bringing environmental benefits and reduced dependence on imported raw materials.

New EIB operations to protect the environment in 2017

2017’s new operations to protect the environment will bring real improvements to the lives of millions of EU citizens. 29 million people are expected to benefit from improved sanitation and 21 million from safe drinking water. Others will experience reduced risk of flooding in their neighbourhood or improved refuse collection and recycling services.


The EIB remained the largest debt provider to Europe’s water sector in 2017, a role which included identifying new financial structures for innovation in the sector. The Bank is currently increasing its focus on water security and innovation.

Selection of expected results from new operations signed in 2017 to protect the environment

Recycling and circular economy, Green Fibre International, Romania

Water supply and sanitation, Portugal