Story | 17 Feb, 2020

Financing Green Economy: A Conservation Less Articulated Challenge

Conservation interventions should be intertwined with practical models that offer sustainable economic and environmental benefits for all stakeholders.

The shift to green economy is definitely a wide leap in production and consumption behaviors whose success is based on providing essential mechanisms among which ‘financing’ needs to be better addressed. Financing green economy is still a problematic issue around the world because several aspects are involved in making such a shift. While there are definite advantages of this shift such as resources conservation, reduction of emissions and climate change mitigation, the showcase for financing green economy is far from being comprehensive especially in the MENA Region. To discuss this topic a meeting of experts was held under the title “Sustainable Finance and Green Economy: Tackling Climate Change and Resource Shortage in the MENA Region”, organized by the Regional Program on Energy Security and Climate Change in the Middle East and North Africa (REMENA) of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Rabat, Morocco.

Firas during discussions Firas during discussions Photo: Firas during discussions
In his presentation, with which the 2nd day of the meeting started, Firas Abd-Alhadi, the Regional Vice-Chair for West Asia in IUCN CEC, gave his insights on this subject. The presentations made during the 1st day of the meeting raising the issue of an evidence-based approach to educating different stakeholders about the benefits of financing green economy, these should be based on presenting win-win solutions for economic and environmental challenges faced by stakeholders and end-users.

Firas explained that with the existence of high potentials for green energy resources such as wind and solar energy in the MENA region and the fluctuation of conventional energy resources costs like oil and natural gas, lack of optimal exploitation of the former resources necessitates investigation. Identifying the factors that inhibit investing economic, social and environmental benefits on the national and local levels has become a pressing issue if the quest for clean, sustainable and cost-effective economic growth is to be fruitful.

Addressing this ‘inhibition’, Firas suggested it is true that mediocre public awareness of green economy products has reduced the possibility of higher penetration rates of these products; however, awareness should lead to the acknowledgement of definite benefits which is far from being the case presently.

An often overlooked limitation restricting the popularity of these alternative resources is the cost of establishing the required installations. This led to a situation where local communities lack the financial incentives to shift to these resources even when they know that on the medium term they would recover the costs of this shift while the potential private sector providers still need to balance profitability against attracting reluctant potential customers.

Creating such incentives necessitates proactive steps from the public sector and the private sector. Potential investors can play a major role in drawing the government’s attention to green economy by showcasing how national interests are better served by investing in this economy either directly through granting different subsidies to green economy producers and end-users or indirectly through the legislative, regulatory, executive and supervisory tools it can afford for the process of moving towards green economy.

This public involvement and the incentives granted to green energy businesses and consumers would constitute the principal substance of educational campaigns designed to ignite the change to green economy products, Firas concluded.

Author: Firas T. Abd-Alhadi, Regional Vice-Chair for West Asia in IUCN CEC