The movement towards green finance is a positive step that local authorities are embracing and could play a significant role in the long-term recovery from COVID-19, writes David Dale, policy officer for the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT).
The Green Finance Toolkit is one of the outputs of the ADEPT and Amey Excellence in Place Leadership (EiPL) programme and takes the Government’s Green Finance Strategy as its starting point.
EiPL is ADEPT’s thought leadership programme, bringing together forward-thinking leaders and influencers from across ADEPT membership to examine key issues and opportunities affecting the local government sector, to shape the way we do business, create an environment for change, and influence strategy across the place agenda.
Green finance was the theme for the second EiPL session, where members were challenged to ‘make green finance work’.
The toolkit consolidates some of the conclusions from the session. It identifies opportunities around crowdfunding, partnership working with other councils and using the build-up to the UN Climate Change Conference (UN COP26) to publicise successes.
It also highlights some key challenges to embedding green finance, including the need to develop long-term commissioning and investment plans, the need for council place and finance teams to work closely together and the need for a joined-up approach from different government departments.
Locally, the main challenge will be around understanding the new sources of finance. Green finance will be an intrinsic part of helping businesses, services and communities to access the support needed to rebuild economies while maintaining focus on climate change.
Another challenge will be around engagement – how does local government effectively engage with the central government?
Within councils, how to raise awareness across different teams? Both these elements are an essential part of embedding green finance going forwards.
Aimed at place leaders and their teams, the toolkit provides support to develop a strategic approach to embedding green finance across local authorities.
It gives place directors an overview of the guiding principles of green finance and provides a practical guide to accessing existing support and an overview of potential investors. It is designed to bring to life the principles of green finance into local authority strategies and initiatives.
The toolkit looks at how some local authorities are already developing their green finance portfolio, with case-studies from Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire, Bristol and Swindon.
It also provides information on the different types of sustainable finance options for green infrastructure and projects designed to provide broad environmental and economic benefits. Options include green bonds, green loans, a green revolving credit facility, green hire purchase, and lease and asset loans.
Finally, it provides a directory of resources, advice and support on green finance for ADEPT members.
In order to succeed in embedding green finance into the heart of decision making, we need to ensure different government departments have a joined-up approach.
Only by this top-down/bottom-up approach will we all be able to embed green finance into the way we operate, at both a national and local level.
The world has changed since the green finance EiPL session earlier this year, but it is important that we do not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change – climate risks grow each year and the steps we take to rebuild our economies post Covid-19 will have a dramatic impact on future sustainability, resilience and wellbeing.
The importance of green finance has become even greater to ensure green recovery and renewal are truly embedded into everything we do going forwards.
The toolkit is a source of practical advice and support for place leaders and their teams. We want to keep it dynamic and up to date, so it will be important to get feedback from users and to hear about what innovative approaches other councils are developing so that we can share this with our members and partners.
The Green Finance Toolkit can be found on the ADEPT website.
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