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Environment and the private sector

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Environment and the private sector

In the framework of the World Forum for Democracy, the Democratic Governance Division is organising a series of webinars to explore the intersection of the environment, governance and democracy. The webinar on “Public private partnerships for green city solutions” took place on 20 July 2021. These are the key take-aways from the discussion:

Investing in the fight against climate change and its impact is a priority for the European Union (EU) and funding for transition projects is available, among others, under the EU Green Deal and related instruments. At the same time, the shift towards a low carbon, climate neutral economy is not only about money. It also requires a conceptual shift towards climate neutral policies, a wholistic approach and capacity building.

By 2050 more than half of the world’s population will live in cities. To fight against climate change, cities will need to invest in infrastructure with green potential, especially in the sectors such as energy, building, transport, waste to name few. Therefore, local authorities have a key role to play in implementing green, climate neutral projects. At the stage of tenders and procurement, local authorities can use environmental and social clauses to ensure sustainability. To effectively negotiate public private partnerships contracts that have the long-term interests of the public at heart (and not the short-term profit interests of companies), civil servants need to be better trained to effectively use these clauses.

Despite investment by the public sector, there exists a financing gap to fully ensure the transition from a harmful, fossil fuel based, economy to a green and sustainable economy. The private sector, in particular the financial sector, can support closing this gap, by streamlining climate footprint requirements into the financial system as a whole and its diverse products. Furthermore, citizens increasingly want to invest their savings ethically and sustainably. Appropriate opportunities need to be developed. Green bonds and green indexes are a step in the right direction, yet more needs to be done.

Public private partnerships exist since the 1990s. To learn from success stories as well as past mistakes, it is crucial to build professional networks to foster exchange. On the EU level, resources to share expertise are made available online, for example the LIFE program. Furthermore, providing relevant training opportunities for local authorities and financial actors alike will increase their ability to implement projects to the satisfaction of citizens and investors alike, while respecting principles of good governance.

Climate change is a multi-dimensional and multi-governance issue. Climate neutral projects and green solutions should also seek to close the growing divide between urban and rural areas in terms of resources (e.g., funding, infrastructure), capacity (e.g., know-how, expertise), and resilience (e.g., preparedness, responsiveness).

Speakers

  • Benoit CATHALA, European mission manager at the French National Centre for Local Civil Service (CNFPT)
  • Julie EVAIN, Project Manager Finance, Institute for Climate Economics
  • Juan Manuel REVUELTA, Director General, Finnova Foundation
  • Moderator: Dan POPESCU, Head of Department Democracy and Governance
  • Joined by youth delegate Ijeoma OKEREKE from Nigeria.