WGEO, GGGI launch joint initiative for the funding of smart green cities

The World Green Economy Organization, WGEO, and the Global Green Growth Institute, GGGI, signed a partnership agreement today in Dubai to fast-track green investments into bankable smart city projects.

By WAM
DUBAI, Oct 8 2018 (WAM)

The World Green Economy Organization, WGEO, and the Global Green Growth Institute, GGGI, signed a partnership agreement today in Dubai to fast-track green investments into bankable smart city projects.

The joint initiative makes it possible for smart green cities and sustainable infrastructure projects to gain access to grants and investments through the WGEO Trust Fund. Sixty bankable smart green city projects worth a total of US$1.1 billion are being delivered by GGGI to this initiative over the next three years. Each project benefits from the explicit support of host government, and as such present a competitive advantage to interested investors.

Committed to supporting a transition to a green economy, the joint project between WGEO and GGGI will serve as a platform to identify, develop and fund long-term, high-impact bankable projects. Recognising that people are at the centre of sustainable development, the partnership between WGEO and GGGI aims to contribute to securing a world that is equitable and inclusive. Sustainable economic development means that the green economy must include the reduction of inequalities and bring multiple social, economic and environmental benefits to all citizens.

“Smart green cities and sustainable infrastructure projects create unprecedented opportunities for long-term prosperity, leading to more vibrant and attractive markets, healthy economies, poverty reduction, and sustainable development,” says Saeed Mohamed Al Tayer, Chairman, World Green Economy Organization.

“The World Green Economy Organization is uniquely placed to provide systematic and holistic catalytic support to the promotion of the green economy, meaning that it will handle all aspects of the promotion of the green economy. Access to green finance through the WGEO Trust Fund is one among a number of practical value propositions offered by the organisation,” he added.

Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of GGGI said, “I see a tremendous opportunity in our collaboration from jointly setting up the process of managing the Project Preparation phase and developing green city bankable projects. I am confident that our projects will attract the GGGI Member countries as well as WGEO investors to want to invest.”

GGGI is championing green growth and climate resilience to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement commitments. It is a trusted advisor to governments in more than 30 countries transitioning to green economic growth. GGGI results support six outcomes critical to achieving SDGs and NDCs, greenhouse gas emission reduction; creation of green jobs; increased access to sustainable services; improved air quality; adequate access to ecosystem services, and enhanced climate adaptation.

WGEO emerged in response to the call by the international community, as reflected in the outcome document of the Rio+20 conference, entitled “The Future We Want”, where governments, the private sector, and all other stakeholders are called to support countries interested in the transition to a green economy.

WGEO seeks to promote the mainstreaming of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, by linking financing, technology, capacity building and all other elements of the enabling environment for the green economy.

WGEO facilitates the implementation of various green investment projects, including renewable energy, a specialised green industrial zone development, waste management, waste to energy, e-mobility, green transportation and smart water solutions.

 

WAM/Tariq alfaham/Hassan Bashir

Leveraging the Potential for Green Growth in Vulnerable Countries

A farmer walks past the solar panels used to pump water in the Soan Valley. The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) works closely with countries to diversify their economies, promote solar energies, and connect financial investors with specific green growth projects. Credit: Zofeen Ebrahim/IPS

By Carmen Arroyo
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 8 2018 (IPS)

In May the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced next year’s summit on climate. This assertion has given green growth and the Global Green Growth Institute international momentum, which was reflected in the events of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City.

During the UNGA week the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), an international organisation based in Seoul, South Korea, led the conversation on green growth. Frank Rijsberman, the institute’s director general, highlighted that green growth is not a matter of the future but of the present. Green growth, defined as sustainable economic growth, is essential due to the damage caused by climate change and increased pollution.

While at UNGA, GGGI participated in the Sustainable Development Impact Summit, organised by the World Economic Forum, the P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030), and the Sustainable Investment Forum, organised by Climate Action and U.N. Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

GGGI also helped organise the event named “Leveraging Green Growth Potential in Vulnerable Countries,” which took place at the U.N. headquarters. Representatives from the Rwandan and Ethiopian governments, the U.N.-OHRLLS (U.N. Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States), and the European Union participated.

Challenges and best practices for green growth

At the event, the speakers discussed the challenges green growth encounters, the best practices in the field, and how public opinion regarding sustainable energies has shifted in the last years. Green growth, at the core of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, is not at the sidelines of international policy anymore, but at the centre of the conversation.

The United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, and even South Korea are already pursuing green growth agendas. But the shift is especially important for developing countries, which are more at risk due to climate change.

“Mainstreaming green growth is the only option for vulnerable countries,” stated Rijsberman at the event. “This is not just a challenge but also an opportunity.”

For Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for U.N.-OHRLLS, promoting sustainable growth in developing countries is a priority. She told IPS: “Leveraging the potential for green growth in vulnerable countries is critically important.”

Often times environmental damages are linked with other issues, explained Katoa. “Poverty and its alleviation are intricately linked to the environment and climate change is a threat which demands our immediate attention,” she commented.

Policy and finance obstacles to green growth

Despite its importance, getting governments to change to sustainable growth is not always easy.

According to Rijsberman, “policy obstacles, government, and finance” need to be taken into account. But the biggest challenge remains shifting investment patterns. The breakthrough for renewable energies comes with lower prices, he says.

“It is hard to compete fossil fuels if they are cheap,” said Rijsberman at the event. When fossil fuels become more expensive than renewable energies, it is easier to find investment for green growth projects. That, claimed Rijsberman, is already happening.

“Solar and wind have become cheaper than coal,” Rijsberman told IPS.

Now, the challenge for GGGI and national governments is to find investors to fund green growth projects —for example, increasing solar panels.

“Our goal for 2020 is to raise more than two and a half billion dollars in green and climate finance,” said Rijsberman.

Katoa, from U.N.-OHRLLS, stated: “It is clear that global financing needs to be stepped up considerably and directed towards investments that contribute to green growth and building resilience. This includes both traditional as well as new channels.”

The difficulties of changing public opinion have been overcome in the most part. Natural disasters, heat waves, and pollution have made public opinion aware that climate change is real, and solutions are needed.

During the event at the U.N. headquarters, Mauro Petriccione, director general for Climate Action at the European Union, pointed out how European opinion has shifted.

“It has taken the last two summers to make Europeans aware of the effects of climate change,” he said. Now, he added, “Europe is taking strong legislative action to this respect.”

New skills for renewable energies

Finally, the loss of jobs in the fossil fuel industry needs formal solutions. Rijsberman suggested formal retraining, because the skills needed in renewable energies are different from those required in the coal and oil industries.

Despite these difficulties, there are many cases of success in this transition. Rwanda and Ethiopia have already changed to sustainable growth. They are, as Rijsberman calls them, “champions of green growth.”

For countries like Ethiopia the change to sustainable energies is crucial. Climate disruptions have an immediate effect on their economy, which depends mainly on agriculture. Thus, the government prioritises climate resilience to secure its citizens’ livelihood.

Selamawit Desta, the Ethiopian representative at the event, shared with IPS how they succeeded in transitioning to green growth. “In 2008, we stopped subsidising fossil fuels. It was hard, but we gave an option. Food or fossil fuels,” she explained. And since then, Ethiopia barely has emissions.

Other countries with vast natural resources, also affected by climate change, need to take advantage of their ability to develop renewable energies.

Katoa stated: “Natural resource bases play a critical role in the economies of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island Developing States.”

She continued: “These nations also typically have a large untapped potential for renewable energy, which can help to bring sustainable energy access to underserved and remote rural communities.”

Collaborative work with GGGI

The institute, founded in 2010, relies upon 36 countries, both members and partners of GGGI. They work closely with them to diversify their economies, promote solar energies, and connect financial investors with specific green growth projects.

Inevitably, their work depends on the will of the national governments. But more and more states are willing to collaborate with the Institute. During the event “Leveraging Green Growth Potential” both the Rwandan minister of environment, Vincent Biruta, and the representative for the Pacific Islands expressed their gratitude to GGGI.

GGGI also counts with a large institutional network, working with organisations such as the U.N., the World Bank, and the OECD, to promote green growth knowledge.

She added: “We look forward to ongoing cooperation with GGGI particularly in addressing climate change challenges and improving access to sustainable energy in vulnerable countries.”