Over the past century, the expansion of global economies has posed environmental challenges that demand a radical rethink in our priorities, habits, and systems. However, it is also becoming increasingly evident that economic growth, development, and a clean, healthy environment are not necessarily mutually exclusive, such that the two phenomena can potentially coexist. This understanding formed a paradigm shift, leading to the rise of the sustainability revolution and doughnut economics – a model addressing the challenge of meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet. As a result, companies are now eager to improve their sustainability credentials, with green businesses riding the crest of a gathering wave.
As such, here are five reasons why development actors, key industry players, and microfinance institutions should support green businesses.
- Green is the future
From electric cars to plant-based burgers, green businesses are disrupting industries worldwide. To put matters into perspective, over the past five years, global renewable energy capacity has grown by 50% and global electric car stock has grown by over 900%.
In general, sustainability-linked consumer products now grow nearly six times faster than other brands, and 73% of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment, according to a 2018 Nielsen study.
- Green is likely to succeed
Due to their rising popularity and diminishing dependence on non-renewable natural resources, green businesses are more likely to succeed in comparison to carbon-heavy alternatives. They are also more capable of dealing with rising costs due to climate change, so that such business will have a greater chance of long-term success and financial sustainability. For instance, investing in solar or wind power cuts down greenhouse gas emissions and energy expenditures simultaneously.
- Green is environmentally-friendly
Over the past few decades, environmental ailments such as climate change, pollution, and waste have gone up at an alarming rate. While more developed countries (MDCs) are able to mitigate or offset some of the effects by for example maintaining an efficient recycling system, most developing countries do not or cannot recycle all of their waste. Green businesses can treat the problem rather than the symptom by tackling this issue at source, since they are by definition, intrinsically environmentally-friendly.
- Green protects public health and communities’ wellbeing
Air pollution kills an estimated seven million people every year. At the same time, overuse of non-recyclable materials such as plastic is causing a waste pandemic, with most being dumped in landfills and oceans, posing dire consequences on global public health and communities’ well-being – specifically in developing countries. Green businesses, on the other hand, offer clean, healthy alternatives that mitigate our exposure to such risks.
- Green preserves wild and marine life
Our overuse and contamination of rivers, deserts, and other natural ecosystems continues to cause massive destructions in natural habitats. The resulting loss in biodiversity is critical not only to the environment but also to us, humans, as well. It may drastically reduce our food supplies by hindering the ability of farmers, fishermen, and livestock keepers to produce food. In other words, the decrease in biodiversity can result in a future where fresh water supplies are irregular and scarce, and where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease. Alternatively, green businesses propose more conscious solutions – ones that celebrate and preserve living things and their natural ecosystems.
In an effort to strengthen eco-innovative entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean basin, Leaders International, with support from the European Neighbourhood Initiative (ENI) promotes the development of green enterprises. Through the GIMED project, it prompts key stakeholders to lay further eyes on the economic, social, and environmental outcomes of a green innovation ecosystem.