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BECC/NADB Board of Directors met in San Antonio

Posted on February 19, 2016

BECC/NADB Board of Directors met in San Antonio

• 2015 closes with 14 approved projects with an estimated cost of more than US $833 million • BECC, NADB merger moves forward

On December 2nd, the Board of Directors of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADB) held its second public meeting of 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. 

The meeting was an opportunity to recognize the valuable contributions made by members of the Board and the technical and financial staff of the two institutions for the implementation of major environmental projects that have improved the quality of life of over 26 million residents of the U.S.-Mexico border region. Additionally, during the meeting, the Board of Directors approved a resolution doubling the capital of the Bank –US $450 million in paid-in capital and the remainder in callable capital– subject to the legislative approval processes of both countries.  

Some of the organizations’ achievements in 2015 include the certification of 14 environmental infrastructure projects, which represent a combined investment of more than $833 million and will benefit a combined population of more than one million inhabitants. These projects are receiving US $239.2 million in NADB loans and $18 million in grants, and cover different environmental protection areas such as: renewable energy, water, wastewater treatment, and air quality. 

Jose Antonio Larios, Acting Consul General of Mexico in San Antonio, welcomed Board members and those attending the public meeting to San Antonio. He highlighted the work developed by the NADB and BECC during the past 20 years to address environmental issues along the border region. He said “there is surely no other such bilateral effort elsewhere in the world," and added that "our two countries should be very proud of having these institutions that, relying on strong technical support and efficient financial performance, have developed hundreds of strategic infrastructure projects that are critical to preserve the ecological and environmental balance of our extensive common border.”

In the renewable energy sector, approval was issued for three wind farms in Mexico –two in Tamaulipas and one in Coahuila–, as well as the first industrial emissions control project, also located in Monclova, Coahuila. In the water and wastewater sector, US $17 million in grants from EPA’s Border Environmental Infrastructure Fund administered by the NADB were approved for the implementation of several projects to benefit the communities of Willcox, Arizona; Sunland Park, New Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas, in addition to a project to improve the water distribution system in Mesilla, New Mexico.  Additionally, the Board received a report from the BECC and NADB management regarding the progress made thus far in the process for integrating the two organizations, including processes undertaken to seamlessly combine the project development and technical assistance programs, as well as internal operations. 

In this regard, NADB Managing Director Geronimo Gutierrez said that 2015 "was a year of changes and consolidation, as it marked the beginning of the BECC/NADB merger process.” He also highlighted the solid and visionary step taken by the Board of Directors “by recommending to the governments that these institutions be integrated, based on their operating perspective." He added that this merger "between two great organizations," will bring major benefits to the U.S.-Mexico border community. 

Maria de los Angeles Gonzalez Miranda, Board Chair and Head of the International Affairs Unit at Mexico’s Ministry of Finance, underscored that “substantial progress has been made by the NADB and BECC in the integration process,” and said “the amended charter is ready to be sent for formal legal review, and the preliminary work that the two institutions are doing to merge their project development programs and other internal operations will facilitate its implementation.” 

During the public meeting, two financing agreements totaling US$1 million were signed for grants from the NADB-funded Community Assistance Program (CAP). The City of Nogales, Arizona received a US$500,000 grant to replace the water distribution main on Crawford Street which will have at least 330 connections and benefit a population of 1,178. The Municipality of Sabinas, Coahuila received the second grant, also for US$500,000, to support rehabilitation of its downtown sewer system which will benefit a population of 3,027 and will have 462 sewer connections that will eliminate 160,000 gallons per day of uncollected wastewater.

The Mayor of Sabinas, Ignacio Lenin Lucio, thanked all members of the Board for approving financing for his community, as these funds will help address a huge wastewater collection backlog and prevent further pollution of the local water tables. He said he has a “strong commitment and an ongoing effort” to work “to have the best facilities and services and above all, to protect human health.” 

In addition, NADB and the Monterrey Technological Institute (ITESM) signed an agreement to implement a training program developed by NADB, which will be taught by ITESM’s Latin American and Caribbean Water Center (CDA). This program seeks to strengthen the administrative, financial and leadership abilities of water and wastewater utilities. The agreement was signed, on behalf of ITESM by Manuel Zertuche, Dean of the School of Engineering; CDA Director Jurgen Mahiknecht; Alejandro Poiré, Dean of the School of Government and Public Transformation, and NADB Managing Director Geronimo Gutierrez. 

Attendees to the public meeting included Gary Gallegos, Executive Director of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), who asked for NADB’s assistance to develop a project and obtain financing for a commercial international crossing in Otay Mesa, in the Tijuana-San Diego border. This crossing would be the first of its kind along the border using advanced technologies. The Board Chair said this is a high priority project within the scope of the bilateral relationship, not only in the context of the BECC and NADB, but also for the High Level Economic Dialogue established by the two governments, as it contributes to create a competitive border region. 

Environmental Protection Secretary Carlos Graizbord, representing the government of Baja California, presented six projects currently in the BECC development pipeline that are related to energy conservation, solar heaters, sustainable housing, pollution reduction in the New River, public transportation, and comprehensive waste management in the state. 

On behalf of the government of Arizona, Edna Mendoza of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), congratulated the BECC and NADB for establishing the CAP program, which has benefited communities in her state. On the matter of border crossings, she recognized the efforts made to develop a study on the subject, as this is an issue of utmost importance for Arizona. She gave the example of the Nogales-Mariposa crossing, which has exceeded its capacity and needs to be expanded. Another project that needs to be taken into consideration is the proposal to prevent stormwater pollution in the Santa Cruz River –an issue that requires a sustainable solution. 

In closing, BECC General Manager Maria Elena Giner emphasized that the meeting reflected a year of successfully fulfilled goals, with the BECC and NADB teams already working together under integrated processes. She also pointed out that efficiencies in the certification and approval of funding have significantly improved in both institutions and the benefits are tangible for border communities. 

To view video of the 2015 NADB-BECC Status Report, please use the following link:
http://www.becc.org/news/videos/2015-nadb-becc-status-report#.Vs30XPkrKM8




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