By Zachary Taylor, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Belarus
There is an old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child.
So too does it apparently take a village to unlock a new generation of digital and green investments of the type that can truly ‘accelerate’ this country’s development trajectory. For an industrial, middle-income, socially-orientated country like Belarus — at cross-roads in its own development trajectory — a consortium of interests needs to align — between investors, regulators, insurers and the public — to enable and de-risk a climate conducive to investment of the scale and grade that Belarus needs.
On 28 March in Minsk UNDP and its partners will host the first SDG Impact Investment Forum; bringing together some of the CEOs, Mayors, regulators, investors, innovators, philanthropists and chance-takers that have found this “development nirvana” and used it to unleash a new class of digital and green investment. From Helsinki to Tel Aviv to Vienna, cities are emerging at the forefront of the SDGs — participants in Minsk will hear how these cities have worked together with big and small business to turn waste into electricity, replace polluting cars with scooter-sharing; turn asbestos factories into start-up incubators and much more…all whilst creating new and sustainable revenue streams.
The Forum will drill-down and look at the opportunities for more digital investment by seeing how Belarus’ industry and infrastructure (SDG 9) can be 21st century-ready. The OECD estimates that there are economic gains of $94 trillion to be obtained as existing industrial infrastructure is adapted to harness renewable carbon energy, recycle raw products and as manufacturing morphs to re-purpose to an autonomous, electric future.
More than 70% of Belarusians live in cities and making urban areas sustainable (SDG 11) provides another distinct set of opportunities for business. Across the world cities are going cashless, carless, recycling and energy efficient — and all the way along that chain, there are companies making socially-minded profits from this digitally-enabled, cashless and circular economy.
The Forum will also hear from those at the forefront of the green economy (SDG 13); companies that that are prospering whilst working to prevent irreversible climate change. From east to west, financial powerhouses like J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, UBS, Chinese companies — are investing billions in climate finance and green bonds, enabling a next generation of investments in things like tidal power, biomass and super-fast electric municipal transport.
This country’s enthusiastic endorsement of a sustainable, green and digital future; its strong performance in the Ease of Doing Business Index and its increasing openness to development cooperation from across the world mean the global village is here!