"Thank you for turning your attention to this publication and its messages. We hope we manage to convince you, if necessary, of the importance of digital transition and the green agenda in the development process."
ForewordFostering the digital agenda
We are living in turbulent times. After more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presents a new challenge, which has jeopardised political stability and is upending lives and livelihoods in the economies where we invest. The EBRD strongly condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine within hours of the invasion and suspended access to its resources for Russia and Belarus. The Bank also put in place a €2 billion resilience package to address the huge needs of Ukraine and neighbouring countries. This facility is helping citizens, companies and governments to overcome difficulties resulting from the war.
At the same time, the Bank has been careful not to lose sight of the directions its Governors set in the Strategic and Capital Framework 2021-2025: creating a world that is more green, digital and equal. Across the economies where we operate, the Bank has continued to make investments and expand policy engagement to advance these dimensions of the development agenda. In the digital sector, highlighted in this issue of the Law in Transition Journal, the Bank’s activities focus on three areas:
- Promoting the foundations of a sustainable and inclusive digital economy through the adoption of appropriate policies and regulations, access to connectivity through infrastructure, and a skilled workforce.
- Facilitating organisations’ adaptation by providing access to finance, technical cooperation and advisory services that support digitalisation of services, assets, business processes and value chains.
- Fostering innovation and sustainable growth among digital-first clients through an ecosystem of policy and advisory services, as well as debt finance and direct and indirect equity investments.
I believe the EBRD can add exceptional value to the development of these areas in the economies where we invest. The work of the Legal Transition Programme, which is integrated with the EBRD’s policy work in our countries of operations, is particularly relevant to the first area, as it actively promotes policies and regulations for the digitalisation of government services. The stories in this issue of the Law in Transition Journal showcase our work on this theme. From cloud computing and blockchain in government services in Poland, to digitising mining geodata in Mongolia, to digitalising the work of court bailiffs and promoting open contracting data standards in public contracts, our specialists have shared a wealth of expertise.
To help accelerate the digital transition, the Bank created a Digital Hub in January 2022. The Hub should help the Bank further develop a coordinated and coherent digitalisation offer to countries and clients. As a concrete example, the Hub is already providing support in pilot policy products such as a cyber-security tool kit. The Hub will also take the lead on external engagement and outreach, prioritising cooperation and partnership with other international financial institutions.
Besides its digital focus, this issue of the journal also touches on another direction of our Strategic and Capital Framework 2021-2025. The green agenda has been, and will continue being, a leading priority of our work. I am delighted that this journal also discusses questions relating to climate change and sustainability, in particular the EBRD’s efforts to contribute to the COP26 commitments made in Glasgow last year.
More than ever, there is a need to strengthen legislative and policy frameworks in the economies where the EBRD works to help them weather the current crisis and those yet to come. As UN Secretary General António Guterres so correctly observed: “Facing dramatic global challenges, we need a global capacity to address them that reaffirms the importance of multilateralism and the importance of a rules-based set of international relations, based on the rule of law and in accordance with the UN Charter.” Through our policy dialogue and technical cooperation, we are proud to contribute to this process and the pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
More than ever, there is a need to strengthen legislative and policy frameworks in the economies where the EBRD works to help them weather the current crisis and those yet to come.
I am pleased to present to you the 2022 edition of the Law in Transition Journal. This publication reflects on, and showcases, the achievements of the EBRD Legal Transition Programme. The programme itself is an initiative by the Bank to promote the development of the legal rules, institutions and culture on which a vibrant, market-oriented economy depends. The many crises our world has faced in recent years only make it more urgent to build societies based on the rule of law. In the economic sphere, it is crucial to strengthen investors’ confidence that they can conduct their activities in a safe and predictable environment. The trend towards digitalisation of government services is an essential step in that direction. That process was, in fact, accelerated by practical considerations linked to the pandemic. When social contacts are limited, it is imperative for citizens to be able to continue interacting with government structures through digital tools.
The first part of this journal focuses precisely on that theme: how can government services be digitalised so they are accessible to all and more efficient. Let’s look at the contents of this part and how the stories relate to each other:
The first article, by Eliza Niewiadomska and Alenka Cerne, explores the challenges of digital transformation of public-sector services from the angle of open government, in particular in the post-pandemic environment.
The second story, by Milot Ahma, tells us about the assistance the EBRD provided to the Polish government on the use of the cloud computing and blockchain technology, with concrete examples in the financial sector, in healthcare and in education.
In a third contribution, Alexei Zverev and Eliza Niewiadomska discuss the feasibility of using electronic public procurement to select a private party in concessions and public-private partnership projects. This is a very innovative approach, not tested much in practice, and the authors therefore highlight the many challenges facing governments in this approach.
Yulia Shapovalova and Veronica Bradautanu reflect on the Bank’s work in helping court bailiffs improve their processes. Based on experiences in the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova and Ukraine, they advocate the use of digital tools to strengthen professional practices by bailiffs, with a view to increasing enforcement rates of court decisions. This is a very important aspect of the business environment that foreign investors consider before deciding to invest in a given country – hence the need to get it right.
Paul Moffatt then tells us how the Bank helped Mongolia create a cutting-edge digital platform to capture, store, process, analyse and disseminate critical geological information on the country’s mineral resources. Moving from paper documents to digital tools is expected to facilitate investment in this sector, which is fundamental to the country’s economy.
Finally, Catherine Bridge Zoller and Hester Coutanche present an EBRD initiative designed to give small and medium-sized enterprises digital tools with advice on how to remain resilient in the Covid-19 and post-pandemic environments. The initiative, first launched in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, has reached many small firms, helping to strengthen this vital part of the countries’ economic life.
The secondary focus of this issue of the Law in Transition Journal is on the green agenda, another crucial dimension of the EBRD’s strategic focus for the current period. There are three stories in this part: first, a contribution by Mike Strauss and Harry Boyd-Carpenter looking at the EBRD’s agenda to address climate change and the role lawyers can play in achieving the Paris Agreement’s goals. They argue that lawyers have not only the capacity, but also a duty, to contribute to the global effort to save the planet.
The second article in this green agenda section is by Vesselina Haralampieva and Robert Adamczyk. It deals with environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in connection with companies’ reporting. The authors highlight the need to bring together corporate and market action as well as government and regulatory pressure to ensure delivery of the sustainability goals at all levels. They share experiences in preparing ESG guidelines for stock markets in Poland and North Macedonia (for this last country, with a special contribution by Pavle Djuric).
The final story by Paul Alexander and Adonai Herrera-Martinez explains how technology, standards and regulations are rapidly evolving to help save biodiversity and our natural capital.
Thank you for turning your attention to this publication and its messages. We hope we manage to convince you, if necessary, of the importance of digital transition and the green agenda in the development process. These priorities are not only valid for the economies where we operate, but equally for the entire world. As always, we welcome your feedback on our stories.
The many crises our world has faced in recent years only make it more urgent to build societies based on the rule of law. In the economic sphere, it is crucial to strengthen investors’ confidence that they can conduct their activities in a safe and predictable environment.