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November 9th meeting of the NADB-BECC Board of Directors in San Antonio

Posted on December 12, 2017

November 9th meeting of the NADB-BECC Board of Directors in San Antonio

The Board of Directors of the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADB) announced at its biannual meeting held on November 9, that amendments to the Charter establishing the integration of the BECC and NADB into a single institution for the development and financing of sustainable environmental infrastructure in the U.S.-Mexico border region, come into force as of November 10.

On Thursday morning, the Board held its private meeting, followed by a press conference by the NADB leadership, and in the afternoon, a public meeting was held, which included comments from different representatives of the border communities.

The topics discussed in the Board´s private meeting were reported at the press conference offered by the Managing Director and Deputy Managing General of the NADB, Alex Hinojosa and Calixto Mateos, respectively, and by Salvador Lopez, the organization´s Chief Environmental Officer. Alex Hinojosa highlighted that four new water and wastewater projects were approved and the institution´s strategic planning for the future was reviewed. He also said, “it was a special meeting because today is the last day that these organizations operate as such... the BECC and the NADB.” He also confirmed that “as of tomorrow, after the exchange of diplomatic notes between the two countries, the BECC ceases to exist and becomes part of the Bank.”

Hinojosa added that “the Bank has had a quite strong growth in recent years, with a US $1.4 billion loan portfolio and, looking forward, we still have many needs to address and we are ready to continue providing financing wherever there are needs.”

The approval of the following projects was reported during the press conference:
- Expansion and improvement of the water and wastewater systems in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, a project that will receive a loan for up to US $10 million for construction
-Approval of US $3.6 million through the Border Environmental Infrastructure Fund (BEIF) for three wastewater collection and treatment projects that consist of replacing a portion of the Colector Poniente and several associated sub-collectors in the northwest area of Tijuana, Baja California; a wastewater collection system for the community of Loma Blanca, Chihuahua; and a wastewater collection project in Marathon, Texas to replace the main sewer that conveys wastewater to the local treatment plant, dismantle an existing lift station, and extend the wastewater collection system to provide first-time service to nine households in the community.

During the press conference, Calixto Mateos explained that “this integration is simply to be able to make more efficient and effective the function that was already carried out by both by the Bank and the BECC.” He said that “what is being sought at all times is to reinforce that function, that participation that existed in the border communities,” and added that “this is the purpose for incorporating the role of the Chief Environmental Officer position into the Bank's management team.”

Salvador Lopez, the first person to occupy that position, said, “we want to make it very clear that the merger in no way minimizes or diminishes the Bank's mandate regarding environmental issues, or the safeguards we have to ensure that projects comply with the applicable environmental requirements and permits before they can be implemented.”  

The public meeting was co-chaired by Carlos Marquez-Padilla Casar, Head of the International Affairs Unit at Mexico´s Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP), and Geoffrey Okamoto, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Development Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The presidium also included U.S. board members Colleen Hoey, Director of the Office of Mexican Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Mark Kasman, Director of the Office of  Regional and Bilateral Affairs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Jose Rodriguez, Texas Senator and U.S. Border State Representative, as well as Denise Ducheny, U.S. Border Resident Representative. On behalf of Mexico, board members present included Citlali Orquídea Pérez Saucedo, Deputy General Director for Border Affairs, Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Armando Yáñez Sandoval, Deputy General Director for Border Affairs, Office of International Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources; Homero Soto Vargas, State Representative, and Carlos de la Parra Rentería, Border Resident Representative.

The opening ceremony began with comments from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolf, who acknowledged “the positive impact” that NAFTA has had, including a remarkable growth in trade between the two countries. He expressed the same opinion about the NADB, which “over the years has played a significant role along the border.” He closed his participation wishing “that we all continue our efforts to ensure the success of the North American Development Bank.”

The next speaker was Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendivil, Consul General of Mexico in San Antonio, who also acknowledged that “what was done by the North American Development Bank and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission shows that we can work together for the benefit of communities on both sides of the border.” She said that this framework “is a perfect example of how two countries can work together.”

Subsequently, a video was presented showing the most relevant accomplishments made by the two institutions in 2017:

  • Approval of six water, wastewater, and renewable energy projects involving US $276 million in loans and grant funding.  
  • Approval of US $928,000 in Project Development Assistance Program (PDAP) funding for the development of 13 water and wastewater projects.
  • Use of grant funding from NADB´s Community Assistance Program (CAP) to provide equipment for regional solid waste projects in Coahuila and a project to replace a water system in El Paso County, Texas.
  • Approval of US $1.14 million in technical assistance to support 12 studies and institutional capacity building actions such as the Basics of Water Utility Management course provided to 26 participants from 11 water utilities in Sonora
  • US $125,000 in grant assistance for the installation of solar panels donated by the Mission Solar Energy firm to the Fundación Castro-Limón Pediatric Oncology Center in Tijuana (inverters donated by KAKO Energy).
  • Completion of the first Emerging and Sustainable Cities workshop in Hermosillo, hosted by NADB in coordination with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Colegio de la Frontera Norte.

 Next, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Carlos Marquez-Padilla said that “the integration ensures that the Bank functions well and operations continue to be strengthened in order to better serve the border communities.” He acknowledged the great work made by the two institutions in these more than two decades and said that the impact is reflected in an improved quality of life for residents of both sides of the border and especially in the environment.

Board of Directors Co-Chair Geoffrey Okamoto also recognized the BECC and NADB managers for having achieved the integration. He said that “it is a monumental achievement ... and it will be a platform to serve border communities more efficiently.” He added that the United States government is very focused on economic growth, not only for itself but also for Mexico. He hopes that “together we can have a beneficial economic growth and are able to expand economic opportunities for residents of both sides of the border.”

Afterwards, a public comment session was held and stakeholders shared their concerns and proposals.

The issue of natural gas played an important role in the public comments. The Mayor of Columbus, New Mexico, Philip Skinner, and Mario Juarez-Infante, talked about the need of this community and the neighboring community of Palomas, Chihuahua, to have a natural gas system. They requested US $100,000 in assistance to perform a feasibility study for a natural gas project for both communities. Brad Newton, Executive Director of the Presidio Municipal Development District, asked that NADB be involved in the financing of natural gas infrastructure. He highlighted the strategic location of Presidio between El Paso and Del Rio, which gives it significant development potential, including the possibility of a railroad crossing for Southern Pacific’s 56´ corridor. He wants the natural gas infrastructure to be expanded to Presidio and the neighboring city of Ojinaga. On behalf of San Luis, Arizona, Matias Rosales, chairman of the City Council and member of the Port Authority of Yuma, AZ, requested financial support to develop a binational feasibility study for a natural gas high-pressure line.

Jacob Giesbrecht, of the Port Authority of Presidio, recognized all the support that has been provided to the border area. He asked that the Bank consider financing a railway crossing and bridge extension. He said that this is justified by the strategic position of Presidio-Ojinaga and the increased trade and manufacturing activity resulting from NAFTA.

The U.S. Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission, Edward Drusina, said that “there is a great history of collaboration between the IBWC, the BECC, and NADB.” He recognized the great success that the NADB has had in improving water and wastewater treatment systems, “which benefits both countries.” However, he pointed out that the existing infrastructure has aged and deteriorated after more than two decades in operation. He recommended that the Bank “focuses on paying attention to this aging infrastructure that is beginning to create problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Mexicali Mayor Gustavo Sanchez sent a recorded video in which he asked for NADB´s support to relocate the city´s waste transfer and garbage collection station and “apply innovative and modern procedures in this project.” He also requested assistance to clean up an area that borders the Xochimilco lagoon system.

Jose Ramon Cardenas, of the Municipality of Reynosa, requested that special projects be considered for the current administration, such as a green building, a wind plant, a garbage incineration system, the replacement of lighting fixtures, and a scrap tire recycling facility.

Douglas Schnoebelen, Associate Director of the U.S. Geological Survey´s Texas Program headquartered in San Antonio, acknowledged that “water is one of the most important issues for the two countries.” He stressed that his agency should precisely be more involved in water issues because of its complexity, using science to support decision-making.

Tijuana Council member Manuel Rodríguez, who chairs the city´s Economic Development Commission, thanked the Bank for approving the Colector Poniente project, which aims to improve the wastewater collection and treatment system of this binational Tijuana-San Diego community. He requested that the rehabilitation of the wastewater and garbage collection systems be included in the binational agenda and in the Bank's programs.

Carlos Marquez-Padilla closed the proceedings of this public meeting of the Board of Directors by stating that “it was very productive in terms of dialogue” and that he was able to identify points of coincidence between the two governments on issues and priorities, He acknowledged that “growth, at the end of the day, is a common goal... that should translate into improving the quality of life of our communities.” He advocated for strengthening the region´s competitiveness with new projects.  

To view video of the event, please use the following link: 2017 San Antonio




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