VEB.RF’s Urban Laboratories office at 10 Vozdvizhenka Street hosted a demonstration of Russia’s City Life Index and a presentation about the citylifeindex.ru platform.
The event was attended by residents of Salekhard, Krasnodar and Nizhni Novgorod, along with Vladimir Mau, Rector, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA); Andrey Samokhin, Chief Managing Director and Head of VEB.RF Group Analytics and Marketing; Svetlana Chupsheva, General Director, Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI); and Igor Shuvalov, Chairman, VEB.RF.
The City Life Index is a publicly available analytics platform based on global best practices. This is the first project to provide comprehensive assessment for a variety of different factors in urban life, from infrastructure availability to transport accessibility to private spaces to public confidence. The findings of studies on quality of life are posted at citylifeindex.ru/research.
The City Life Index was developed by VEB.RF in cooperation with PwC, RANEPA and ASI. The analytics system makes it possible to deal with issues of city development and due diligence for potential investment projects. The index uses a database of more than 200 indicators, and 115 Russian cities are benchmarked against international comparators. The database is updated every year.
Vladimir Mau, Rector, RANEPA:
“Quality of life takes precedence over economic growth. Economic growth is good only when accompanied by improved quality of life and structural modernisation. … The Russian Government is advocating a customer- or human-centric approach. This is a very important shift in policy and philosophies. Customer centricity is the dialogue of federal and local authorities with people. Indeed, the key repository of interests is individuals and their families. It is, however, important to keep different aspects in balance: efforts to meet present-day needs should be accompanied by foresight and constant innovation.”
Andrey Samokhin, Chief Managing Director and Head of VEB.RF Group Analytics and Marketing:
“VEB.RF is primarily mandated to help to launch investment projects that have a large-scale effect on the economy and quality of life. And our work is focused on urban areas because city dwellers make up 75% of Russia’s population, or 110 million people. Developing urban economies is key to improved quality of life for three-fourths of the country’s population. To find out where investment will achieve the best social outcomes, we launched the City Life Index project. This is an analytics platform that helps with investment decision-making based on social outcomes. It shows the advantages and development zones of cities, helps to identify best practices for city development and extend them to other cities.”
Svetlana Chupsheva, General Director, ASI:
“ASI has the regional Quality of Life Ranking, and VEB.RF is presenting the City Life Index today. This provides every governor with a powerful tool to improve quality of life in Russian regions. What are the determining factors in quality of life? They correspond to the 12 aspects selected by VEB.RF. These are matters of vital importance to everyone; they are factored in when people decide whether or not they and their families will live in a city or region. And our common goal is to use the results of the ranking and index to find and promote across the country the best solutions, whose effects will be noticed by everyone.”
Igor Shuvalov, Chairman, VEB.RF:
“The City Life Index is a tool related to everybody: city dwellers, city governments, businesses. The index will be increasingly sophisticated and intelligent to provide a more insightful analysis of a family’s city life, such as climatic and educational factors. We’ll use these data to take business decisions. The index will help us to make the best investment decisions with maximal effect. Our responsibility is to learn how to finance and support projects cleverly in order to convert public goods into quality of life as in EU and OECD cities. Russia has a lot of opportunities. We want to learn to see them and make effective use of them.”
Elizaveta Filippova, Partner, PwC Russia:
“Cities compete for talent. For the first time, the knowledge economy and flexible forms of employment made it possible to differentiate between the notions of a city for working and a city for dwelling. Dwellers can constantly choose and change where to live. The index is also designed to help people to make an informed choice, enabling them to compare quality of life not only in Russian cities but also abroad.”
Russian Railways Construction Project for Kaluga Special Economic Zone Railway Receives IRIIS Certification
The completed project to build a railway to the Kaluga special economic zone under a concession agreement between Russian Railways and the Kaluga Region Government has received certification as compliant with the IRIIS requirements.
An official ceremony took place on 6 December 2021 as part of the IRIIS Final Session on Pursuing Quality and Sustainable Infrastructure to mark the awarded certification.
The project was verified by the Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA); Expert RA; and the Russian Center for Competences and Analysis of OECD Standards (Russia-OECD Center RANEPA).
Svetlana Yachevskaya, Deputy Chairperson and Member of the Management Board, VEB.RF:
“We started testing the system on real infrastructural projects early this year and we have already finished assessing three transport projects. The Russian Railways project in the Kaluga Region is the second pilot awarded IRIIS certification. The verification process involved leading expert organisations: rating agencies and consulting companies. It’s particularly important to build up a portfolio of projects for quality infrastructure investment, taking account of Russia’s goals of creating new, modern infrastructure.”
Vadim Mikhaylov, First Deputy Managing Director, Russian Railways:
“The fact that we gained IRIIS certification is another step for the company towards quality and sustainable infrastructure projects for railways. We have already completed the railway and are in the process of preparing it for operation. Independently verified compliance with international standards gives us an indication that the project is successful.”
Mikhail Sukhov, CEO, ACRA:
“ACRA participated in verification related to the Environment and Climate aspect of IRIIS for the Russian Railways infrastructural project of the Kaluga special economic zone. Our participation is aimed at continuing to improve the methodology, collaborating with VEB.RF in advisory and methodological work, and adapting the IRIIS verification procedure to conform to Russian standards.
“The pilot projects allowed the ACRA team in cooperation with VEB.RF to successfully complete verification for all the three aspects of the IRIIS methodology for infrastructure project assessment: Economy and Governance, Quality of Life, Environment and Climate. The ACRA sustainability risk assessment team is made up of the best ESG assessment experts and fully competent in the use of the IRIIS system. We hope our contribution to IRIIS improvement will help to extend this procedure to more infrastructural projects to enhance their quality and compliance with the principles of sustainable development. We would like to particularly note the well-coordinated efforts of VEB.RF and the National PPP Development Center. They not only developed a high-quality analytical product that is now available for other projects in Russia, but also were active in helping us to communicate with the project initiator, Russian Railways.”
Pavel Seleznev, General Director, National PPP Development Center (part of the VEB.RF Group):
“The Russian Railways project shows that major companies are very much interested in making their new infrastructure more efficient without negative impacts on the environment or human life. Judging by the certification of three projects, we are confident about the future of IRIIS as a good tool for the market. To make the certification process more convenient, we used the ROSINFRA platform to launch an online module that enables users to submit an application, communicate with verifiers and assess their own projects.”
The IRIIS system is based on international best practices in independent infrastructure sustainability assessment, such as rating schemes currently used in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries. The system is designed to bring into practical use the Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The development and public discussion of IRIIS gave due consideration to proposals from a wide range of both foreign and Russian experts.
Egyptian-Based Russian Industrial Area Showcased by VEB.RF and REC at Expo 2020 Dubai
The VEB.RF Group’s delegation made a presentation about the Russian industrial area (RIA) in Egypt at Expo 2020 Dubai today. Supervised by the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, the project is to offer a unique opportunity for Russian companies to enter the Arab and African markets. According to Daniil Algulyan, Deputy Chairman of the Management Board, VEB.RF, construction in the RIA is scheduled to begin as early as May 2022. The RIA is situated at the town of Ain Sokhna near the Suez Canal.
“The Russian industrial area in Egypt is basically a public-private partnership project,” Daniil Algulyan said. “Our countries work together to help businesses to set up their projects. The RIA is designed to make it easier for Russian companies to adapt themselves to the local environment during their entry into the Middle Eastern and North African markets.”
The 50-hectare site is only a few hundreds of metres from the Red Sea. The RIA is located near a railway that can be used to transport feedstock and finished products, a desalination plant and a power station. The RIA will potentially be expanded to 525 hectares; the second site will be built at Port Said. The two sites are to operate on the same conditions.
RIA residents will be able to repatriate 100% of their profits, have 100% shareholdings in their businesses, and import duty-free components, materials and parts for use within the Russian industrial area. In the case of products exported from the RIA to the other territories of Egypt, they will be exempt from tax with the exception of assemblies and components manufactured abroad. Russia will build on-site accommodation for RIA residents. They will also be provided with access to a full range of products offered by development institutions: loans from EXIMBANK OF RUSSIA, insurance plans from EXIAR, performance bonds from VEB.RF etc.
“Russia and Egypt are equally interested in this form of cooperation. The ongoing project is a win-win for everyone,” added Veronika Nikishina, CEO, Russian Export Center (REC, part of the VEB.RF Group). “This will be good for both Russia and Egypt as well as for countries across the region because products will be cheaper and more affordable. This will promote foreign investment in the region, create new jobs and develop infrastructure around the Suez Canal transit route. The RIA brings added impetus to Russia’s economic ties with Egypt, and we’ll be able to see qualitative changes in trade between the two countries.”
VEB.RF and EDB to Provide Financing for Russian Equipment Supplied for Renewable Energy in Kazakhstan
VEB.RF will lend 1.282 billion roubles to the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) to promote renewable energy in Kazakhstan. The credit line agreement was signed by Daniyar Imangaliyev, Vice Chairman of the Management Board, EDB, and Aleksey Ternavskiy, Managing Director, VEB.RF, during the Eurasian Congress.
The project uses Russian-made equipment, thus also boosting economic integration.
“Green technology transfer from Russia to Kazakhstan with the direct involvement of VEB.RF is an example of how the EDB is laying out a new integration agenda. Since 2017, the Bank has provided financing for renewable energy projects worth over 540 million US dollars and totalling about 500 MW. In 2020, the Council of the Bank approved a programme for 600 million US dollars in financing for 500 MW renewable energy projects in 2020–2024. This can increase planned renewable energy financing to over 1 billion US dollars by 2024,” Daniyar Imangaliyev said.
“Support for high-technology exports is a key area of VEB.RF’s activities. In 2021 alone, VEB.RF entered into loan agreements for more than 1.5 billion US dollars in this area. Their stable export potential means that Russian goods and services are highly competitive. Our main focus now is on ESG criteria for project selection, so we are optimistic about the future prospects of joint green integration projects with the EDB, our good and reliable partner,” Aleksey Ternavskiy said.
VEB.RF-Supported Project Included on Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission’s List
The VEB.RF-supported project to build the gas-to-chemicals facility at Ust-Luga (under the ethane-containing gas processing project) was included on the list of important projects at the eighth meeting of the Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission on Investment Cooperation (IGC). The IGC co-chairmen, Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, and Han Zheng, Vice-Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, were in charge of the meeting.
“The Ust-Luga ethane-containing gas processing project is of nationwide significance. It has Chinese participation, and some of its products will be supplied to the Chinese market. The fact that the gas-to-chemicals facility is now on the IGC list of projects means the project will get the necessary support, which is of benefit to both Russia and China,” said Daniil Algulyan, Deputy Chairman and Member of the Management Board, VEB.RF.
Additionally, the parties discussed the current status and growth prospects of investment cooperation. The IGC secretariats, the Consultative Business Committee, national development institutions and companies reported on their performance. The meeting gave particular attention to bilateral cooperation in COVID-19 vaccine production and gas-to-chemicals projects.
VEB.RF became actively involved with the IGC in 2014. VEB.RF is participating in work on 14 projects in the IGC’s pipeline, with six of them to receive financing from VEB.RF.
To support projects within the IGC, VEB.RF and China Development Bank (CDB) signed a framework agreement for project financing for 15 years and are active in fulfilling its conditions. For example, as part of their cooperation in the project to supply 15 ice-class gas carriers to Arctic LNG 2, CDB lent VEB.RF 4 billion yuan.
In collaboration with the Russian Ministry of Economic Development in 2021, VEB.RF fine-tuned and put into operation an electronic system (mpk-cn.ru) enabling more than 200 IGC members to monitor IGC projects on a twenty-four seven basis.
As an IGC member, VEB.RF intends to contribute to the successful implementation of IGC-supported projects and continue to be actively involved with the IGC.