While different solutions exist to reduce CO2 emissions, limit the scope and mitigate the impacts of climate change, most large-scale initiatives require substantial investments. The London plenary meetings of the AER Committees will shed some light on impact investing and in specific green investing, which is a topic on which AER has been working for several years new via the Regions4GreenGrowth INTERREG IVC project and the collaboration with the R20 in particular.
Where is the money?
Green impact investing refers to projects which aim to have a beneficial impact on the environment. This includes the development of renewable energy systems, building green infrastructure, reduction of climate change. Many initiatives address the need to improve the conditions of our society, for the present and future generations.
For instance, green bonds have been launched by banks or international institutions. These are used to invest in projects for clean air, clear water, green infrastructures, having thus an impact in terms of quality of life.
Meanwhile, alternative solutions as crowdfunding models have started to develop as well. There are platforms in which every citizen can contribute to finance sustainable projects, as in renewable energy projects, innovative energy conservation etc. In this way, citizens have the chance to get directly involved in more sustainable solutions, even with small contributions.
At regional and local level, these tools are often considered complicated to be used, both for the implementation process and for the large investment required. These problems have been addressed also at European level, as stated in the Position Paper of The Citizenergy Project, a European project funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe Program that aims at creating an EU-wide platform for citizen participation in renewable energy projects. Because regional and local levels are the closest to citizens they are the best level to implement energy transition projects. Strengthening the processes for implementing crowdfunding and cooperative models will, for instance channel new funds for such projects at community level. Crowdfunding & cooperative models typically help reduce the procurement barriers and offer citizens an opportunity to invest in local renewable energy projects across Europe.
Supporting regions on the road to green investing
AER regions were invited last Summer to submit projects for the “100 Solutions Projects Campaign” launched by R20 and the Leonardo Di Caprio Foundation. R20 is implementing a technical and financial ecosystem able to cover the whole value chain of project development, financing and implementation. This campaign aimed at giving value to regional green projects by giving them visibility on the international stage and by helping regions finance their green projects, either directly or indirectly. The themes are waste management, renewable energy, and LED lighting. Projects submitted to this campaign demonstrate that the green transition to 100% clean and renewable energy can be addressed, starting from regional level. Worldwide the campaign attracted over 550 projects highlighting that the green market economy is maturing and regional authorities are in the front line.
Mutual learning on impact investing
The spring plenary meetings of the AER Committees on 21-23 march in London will be an opportunity to look more specifically at the diversification of funding and financing sources. While innovation in the public sector, cooperation & skills acquisition are some of the well-known elements which support sustainable financing (see AER conference on innovation in the public sector, November 2015), it is also vital for regions to channel new funds for mid-to-long term planning.
Experts and policy makers will discuss long-term investing, the Juncker Plan, impact investing in general and green investments in particular. Participants will gain new knowledge about funding & financing mechanisms, share challenges and evaluate opportunities for their regions.
Photo credit Juwi @Flickr https://tinyurl.com/j45c3yb