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Aiming for a Greener Financial System

In the year 2015, being a person who likes to stay abreast of the various political and economic activities, I was often confused with the term ‘Green Finance’. Moreover, the excessive use of this term in G20 pushed me to learn more about it and provide an understanding to you as well.

Green finance can be described as an umbrella term which refers to the changes in financial flows that are required to support projects that not only help the environment but also the society. Pollution, air quality, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewable energies are certain genres that are covered under green finance.

To meet the aspiring goal of the Paris treaty, it is important to align the green growth and financial sector. If we talk about green finance in the long-term, we should be happy to know that it has ample opportunities for profitable investments in developed and developing economies. Investing in green economy will set the course for carbon footprints. The only need at the minute is a step change in greening the financial system. There is a rising awareness in the financial system related to sustainability risks, commercial opportunities and changing customer preferences. The government has smoothened these developments through national roadmaps, sectoral guidelines and policy signaling. The economy is witnessing a competitive urge between financial centers and companies for green finance leadership.

An accepted green finance will always constitute a right proportion of policy action and market. Below are certain actions which can be helpful for an effective market action:

Connecting environmental risks analysis with core business activities
Feeding back into the policy process
Driving the environmental risk analysis
Anchoring sustainability, and
Controlling financial technology to strengthen retail demand.

The authorities should be able to shape effective policies to minimize market failures and create conditions which help in the growth of green finance. Apart from using policy packages with fiscal policy and environmental reforms, there should be an involvement to support the greening of financial markets with options such as:

Supporting data provisions and capacity building
Using the limited public means effectively, and
Creating a smart and well-organized incentive system.

After the government, multilateral development banks and international financial banks have also an important role to play, with options like:

Streamlining governance structures and portfolios according to the Paris agreement
Using methods to strengthen environmental guidelines, and
Promoting financial market development and filling project pipelines.

Since the Paris treaty, businesses have initiated that streak of competitiveness at various levels of the financial system. The global financial centers such as London, Shanghai, or Paris are preparing themselves as global green finance centers – this and many more to lure specialized companies. Designing smart market systems and policies, in order to maximize the positive effects in the long-term can be a strong approach towards scaling-up the green finance.

Developing countries encounter major investment gaps and receive a small share of the green financial flow. This is the case when these developing economies offer huge opportunities for long-term green investment in areas such as transport, agriculture, infrastructure and energy. There are a number of developing countries which are advertising green bond roadmaps, highlighting the potential for green finance. Though, the various effects of an updated version of environmental risk analysis need to be understood to manage possible development policy implications. The UN environment is developing a range of options to make the most of the combined activities of green finance and sustainable development.