By Vanora Bennett
As part of plans to revive the Moldovan capital, Chisinau – formulated since the city joined the EBRD Green Cities urban sustainability programme and created a Green City Action Plan to address its challenges – the EBRD is lending €8 million(US$8.75million) towards a €20 million project to regenerate the River Bic and transform it into an attractive asset for its residents and the region.
The EBRD loan is complemented by an €8 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and an investment grant of €4 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF grant was signed Wednesday.
As Chisinau has grown, the river Bic has become polluted and is prone to flooding that impacts local communities, infrastructure and the economy, reducing the appeal of the city. Severe flooding is expected to become more harmful through the predicted impact of climate change, which is seen likely to bring more short intense downpours.
The project will finance a blend of solutions that will collectively improve the management of storm water run-off and its interaction with the river Bic, including partial reprofiling of 7.6 km of the river channel and integrating flood water management measures, such as the rehabilitation of the drainage network and installation of flap valves along the urban reaches of the river. It will reduce the harm and costs associated with increased flooding risk to around 2,100 direct beneficiaries. More broadly, it will restore water quality and the appeal of the river, providing alternatives for recreation, amenity and sustainable mobility to around 100,000 people who live, work and visit the city, with positive impacts for health and wellbeing.
This is also the first time the EBRD has formally implemented a nature-based solution into a project. Included in the project are plans to retrofit ca. 90 rain gardens and 85 tree pits in urban settings – sustainable urban drainage solutions that use engineered natural systems to manage surface water run-off flows and enhance its water quality, as well as create green spaces, which complement more traditional storm water management systems.
EBRD Green Cities was set up in 2016 to help cities identify and address their urban development challenges sustainably. The flagship programme now work with more than 50 cities across EBRD regions, and channels funding of more than €5 billion towards their sustainability projects.
Chisinau, whose Green City Action Plan was approved in May 2020, chose to focus on improving climate adaptation and water quality as well as improving climate-resilient blue-green infrastructure.