Financing the Green Economy

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source: Possibilitator

I must have missed the NPR and local press coverage of the inaugural UN Environment Assembly held last week in Nairobi, Kenya. The five day conference of more than 1,000 attendees representing 163 member states including 113 ministers was blacked out so that we could focus more on the World Cup, baseball, and other more pressing issues.

I want to focus on only one of the 40 events that were held as part of this global meeting. The Symposium on Financing the Green Economy


The report from this symposium painted a picture of possibility if we might heed it’s advice. This effort was part of the UNEP Finance Initiative, the same entity I have mentioned in past blogs that focuses on how global responsible finance can help reshape our common destiny when we step away from the race to get more for me attitude that has so overrun our notion of finance. The key findings from this symposium should be reviewed and considered by all of us. Let’s ask the candidates running for office at all levels if they understand the possibilities here. The following is from a summary from the Symposium.

Key Insights from the Symposium

The Symposium on Financing a Green Economy examined how private financial capital can be mobilized to deliver long-term sustainable prosperity as a necessary complement to public expenditure. It is important to both channel private finance more effectively towards green and job-creating opportunities, as well as diverting it away from its current focus on natural resource and carbon intensive investments.
Scale of the Challenge of Financing the Green Economy: At least USD 6 trillion is required per annum to finance a green and inclusive economy, with more than half of this needed in the developing world.
Need for a systemic approach: This represents a small fraction of the total stock of assets in the global financial system, estimated at over USD225 trillion. As a result, policymakers need to focus on the rules that govern the deployment of capital within the global financial system. To date, post-crisis financial reform measures have not focused on the sustainability imperative.
A misalignment of signals: Many signals in today’s financial system are not aligned with sustainable development – reflected in prevailing short-termism, perverse incentives, insufficient transparency, ill-defined responsibilities and inadequate flows to key countries and sectors. The result is a continuing misallocation of capital to high carbon and resource intensive assets, with potential risks of stranded assets.
Recognising market and policy innovation: Positively, there is a growing body of innovation in market practice and policy measures to integrate environmental and social factors within the financial system, ranging from ‘green bond principles’ to country-level ‘green credit guidelines’ as well as sustainability disclosure requirements on stock exchanges around the world.
Championing action: At this moment in time, the global community has a unique opportunity to build on this emerging policy innovation to place sustainable development at the heart of the financial system. A special focus needs to be placed on strengthening the capacities of developing countries to integrate sustainable development into financial policy and regulation.
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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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