During its first meeting of 2021 held online, the Board of Directors of the North American Development Bank (NADB) approved three new projects in the water sector that represent a total investment of US$8.26 million. The first project is a drinking water distribution system for the Hillcrest Subdivision in El Paso County, Texas, which will receive a US$1.6 million grant from the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF), which is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by NADB. The second project is a wastewater collection system extension and improvements for Doña Ana County, New Mexico, which will receive US$2.15 million in BEIF grant funding. The last project is located in Camargo, Chihuahua and will extend the wastewater collection system with a US$500,000 grant through the Bank’s Community Assistance Program (CAP).
During today’s meeting, the Board of Directors discussed the prospect of broadening NADB’s strategic direction to include investments in a wide variety of environmental infrastructure projects that tackle climate change and promote the green economy. “We had an open and committed dialogue on addressing the evolving needs of the border region, growing NADB’s loan portfolio and promoting new projects that are important to the implementation of the agendas of both Presidents from Mexico and the U.S.,” stated Jose de Luna of Mexico’s Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico (SHCP) and Board chair. The SHCP representative also announced that the Mexican Government has contributed an additional US$11.5 million in capital towards Mexico’s commitment under the USMCA framework.
“The Board wants to maximize NADB’s benefits to border communities, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts, as well as assist the region in transitioning to a green economy by allowing NADB to invest in a broader array of environmental projects, without reducing the attention to water, wastewater and solid waste projects,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Mathew Haarsager, of the U.S. Treasury Department and Board co-chair.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Katherine Dueholm highlighted the bank’s COVID-19 Recovery Program, noting, “It has helped a number of border communities improve their financial strength and contribute to the health and well-being of residents. The COVID Recovery Program simplified approval of additional environmental infrastructure projects and provided refinancing of three projects located in Maverick County, Presidio, and Agua SUD in Texas, resulting in combined savings of $6.5 million for the life of the loans.”
During today’s conversation, the Board also directed NADB to play a key role in providing a platform to bring stakeholders together to reach consensus on a framework for resolving transboundary flows. “This binational framework will help both governments shape the approach to coordinating and resolving crossborder flows such as those found in the Tijuana River,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Jane Nishida of the U.S. EPA.
“We are determined to take full advantage of NADB’s lending capacity to address other urgent infrastructure and environmental needs, which is critical for improving lives and livelihoods and supporting a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S.-Mexico border region,” said Calixto Mateos-Hanel, NADB Managing Director.
Within the public meeting portion of the Board meeting, NADB and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) signed a cooperative agreement for the establishment of a first-of-its-kind binational fund that aims to improve air quality monitoring capabilities in the Paso del Norte air basin. The fund will be managed by the Bank and initially funded by TCEQ.