As market volatility, weak growth, sliding commodities prices and currency devaluations continue to hammer Latin America’s economies, multilateral development banks are increasingly providing much-needed support across the region. 

The Inter-American Development Bank has sharply stepped up its loan disbursements in the first half of this year, making it the leading candidate for LatinFinance’s 2015 Multilateral Development Bank of the Year award. 

“These institutions were created to be counter-cyclical, in a downside that we’re clearly entering, clearly there is going to be more demand on bank lending from the sovereign side,” says Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB. “It’s all about being able to do much more with less.”

Although approvals for loan and guarantees in the first half of 2015 dipped roughly 17% to $2.95 billion compared to the same period last year, the IDB’s loan disbursements rose 62%, to $1.23 billion as of June 30. That growth came as others lent less. The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, for example, cut disbursements globally by about 5.2% for the year ending June 30 to $6.36 billion.  

Climate change, productivity and infrastructure will be among the main areas of focus for Moreno in his third and final term as the IDB’s president. Lending to climate change-related projects will double in the next five years, Moreno says, while infrastructure will continue to comprise roughly half of the bank’s lending. Moreno was re-elected in September. 

In addition, Moreno is overseeing the evolution of the IDB’s private sector arm, the Inter-American Investment Corporation, which will house all the bank’s private sector lending operations from January. The bank tapped the IFC’s James Scriven as general manager of the IIC in October. 

“Over time, we believe that much of the meeting of the development goals is going to be around crowding in the private sector,” Moreno says. “So you need a specialized entity.” LF

WINNER: Inter-American Development Bank