25 Years of Green Investments in Communities in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region

Since its creation in 1994, the North American Development Bank (NADB) has helped preserve, protect and enhance the environment and public health of the U.S.-Mexico border region, home to more than 25 million residents. Working closely with communities, water utilities, local and federal governments, private sector sponsors, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions, NADB has played a key role in the progress achieved in improving various indicators in the region related to the provision of basic services, environmental quality and public health. In addition, it has become a benchmark for binational coordination on various environmental issues.

True to its vision, mission and values, in its 25-year history, NADB has approved 268 environmental infrastructure projects for financing, 236 of which were in operation at the close of 2019. The completed projects represent a total investment of US$9.53 billion, with US$2.99 billion financed through loans and grants from the Bank. At the same time, NADB has supported institutional strengthening at the local level, closing historical gaps in operational efficiencies.

As documented in this performance evaluation, great strides have been made in advancing the mission of the Bank. As a palpable example, between 1995 and 2015 wastewater treatment coverage in the border region of Mexico rose from 21% to 91%, with NADB participating in most of the public treatment plants that were built and went into operation during that period. Even more importantly, the homes of thousands of families on both sides of the border have been connected to reliable water distribution and sewer systems, providing first-time access to these basic services that many people take for granted.

Clean and renewable energy is another area that has seen significant growth in the past decade. NADB has played an essential role in the emerging renewable energy market in the border region of both countries, supporting the construction of 32 wind farms and solar parks with a combined installed capacity of 2,861 MW, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of 916,540 homes and the displacement of carbon dioxide emissions from 910,747 cars.

These and other achievements have been made possible thanks to the guidance and ongoing support of the NADB Board of Directors, the dedication of Bank staff and the collaboration of many border stakeholders, in particular municipal and state governments in both countries.

Although significant progress has been made, challenges remain. While coverage of water and wastewater services has increased substantially, there are still needs in terms of service reliability, water quality and aging infrastructure, as well as issues related to water availability and storm water management. Likewise, some indicators for air quality have been deteriorating as our cities grow and people rely more on private vehicles, prompting the need for effective solutions for mobility and urban development.

For 25 years, NADB has participated in the development of the region, promoting a vision of binational governance and cooperation in pursuit of a better shared destiny. Looking towards the future, NADB is firmly established as one of the first green banks in the world and is well positioned as a self-sustaining and competitive institution to continue promoting the sustainability and development of the U.S.-Mexico border region.

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