Partnership for Environmentally Sustainable Economies (EcoLinks)
From 1998 to 2006 the USAID EcoLinks program promoted market-based solutions to environmental problems facing municipalities and industries. The crux of the program’s effort was based on the formation of cross-border partnerships between local businesses, municipalities, and associations with their counterparts in the U.S. and neighboring Eastern Europe & Eurasia (E&E) countries. EcoLinks assisted in addressing the environmental management, technology and investment challenges critical to modernizing infrastructure and improving municipal economic and ecological performance.
EcoLinks partnerships produced results in three areas:
- Increased cross-border environmental technology trade, finance, and investment;
- Disseminated best practices for adoption by industrial and public sectors; and
- Increased the ability of public and private sector entities to identify and remedy environmental problems.
The approach was based on the assumption that strong, market-based partnerships would foster cost-effective solutions leading to the financing and implementation of viable projects with positive impact on environmental quality for cities and citizens in the region.
TCGI managed the program’s core activities including coordinating partnership building and information dissemination between U.S. technology and E&E region public and private sector entities through a network of EcoLinks Technical Representatives stationed at seven regional U.S. Embassies. TCGI also worked on a daily basis with partners at the Global Trade and Technology Network (U.S. Department of Commerce) and a parallel EcoLinks Grants program to assist regional actors in prioritizing environmental problems, sourcing technology and expertise, and developing partnerships.
EcoLinks provided $10.6 million in grants to develop project feasibility studies and collaborative partnerships to strengthen environmental management capabilities in Europe and Eurasia. EcoLinks also coordinated a trade and investment program which facilitated partnerships through environmental business conferences, trade missions, trade delegations, training courses and commercial consulting services provided through its overseas technology representatives.
The program generated some US$500 million in trade and investment in environmental initiatives and participating cities and industries adopted best environmental management practices and technologies. The program succeeded in improving municipal management and knowledge-transfer through collaboration between regional firms and municipalities and the U.S. clean technology sector.
EcoLinks Program Achievements:
- $180 million in cross-border trade in environmental products, services and infrastructure facilitated by EcoLinks trade and investment activities;
- More than $320 million in additional infrastructure and technology investment leveraged through trade, FDI, and grants partnerships
- Catalyzed over 450 new environmental and clean technology ventures between U.S. firms and local regional partners;
- Engaged 1,500 public, private and NGO sector EcoLinks Alliance network participants from Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia and the United States;
- Awarded 187 Challenge Grants totaling US$8.6 million to develop project pre-feasibility studies required to finance viable municipal projects and disseminate best practices;
- Awarded 576 small Quick Response Awards (QRA) to U.S. and/or local firms;
- Developed EcoLinks country strategies and environmental alliances and led municipal environmental finance seminars for city officials;
- Organized 10 Market Development Seminars to inform U.S. firms of E&E needs and 12 business matchmaking events to link U.S. technology providers to E&E region environmental projects;
The EcoLinks Program relied on TCGI’s strengths in working with public and private sector actors for community-oriented and economically sustainable results. The program demonstrated how appropriate market-based interventions can positively impact local communities and environmentally polluting industries on a regional scale.