The 2017 edition of the Green Business Forum & Exhibition―a platform for dialogue with the end goal of helping green businesses to effectively deal with the challenges facing them― has taken place in Accra.

The Forum, organized by the United Nations University (UNU)/Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC), sought to explore opportunities for Ghanaian Green initiatives, specifically in the five GCIC sectors of focus, taking into consideration the existing local policies for these sectors.

The Forum also sought to identify learning points from the global CIC network pertaining to how policy interventions have impacted the Cleantech sector, specifically within the five GCIC sectors of focus.

The Forum aimed to celebrate the success stories among Cleantech entrepreneurs and draw useful lessons for GICC entrepreneurs in carrying out their respective green initiatives.

It also provided a platform to raise awareness on activities of the GCIC and to identify potential businesses for its incubation programme.

Participants included key policy makers, made up of relevant sector Ministries and District Assemblies, Development Partners, Business and Financial experts, and Entrepreneurs.

The others were Local Entrepreneurs and Innovation Hubs, Thought Leaders, specifically in the area of policy analysis and evaluation, and innovation of green businesses as well as Financial Institutions and Research Hubs.

The Forum took place on the theme:Green Businesses in Ghana: Opportunities for Growth.

In an address to welcome participants, a Fellow of the United Nations University Institute of Natural Resources Africa (UNU-INRA), Dr Eric Twum, identified a paradigm shift from the conventional brown development to sustainable green growth.

Furthermore, Dr Eric Twum said, expressions such as Green Economy, Green Industrialization and Green business had become major concepts in economic and development policy, adding that the concepts were even more critical for Africa as various African countries had begun implementing various policies to further promote and catalyze industrialization.

He said to ensure that the economic gains resulting from industrialization and the structural transformation drive were sustained over a long period of time, it had become imperative for the concept of green economy and green business principles to be adopted and mainstreamed across all sectors.

He said green businesses ensured that the structural transformation process avoided stranded assets, coped with accelerated urbanization, reduced resource inputs and increased efficiency in the production process, minimized waste and strengthened infrastructure to reduce environmental impacts while improving or maintaining the natural resource base, including associated environmental goods and services.

Dr Twum said Green Businesses were critical in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as they would ensure that while responsible production and consumption patterns were being promoted, climate change addressed, affordable and clean energy provided, sustainable cities and communities ensured, sustainability issues regarding life below water and  life on land addressed, and clean water and sanitary conditions satisfied, wealth was also being   created for inclusive growth.

He noted that Ghana’s Green industrialization hinged on energy, agriculture, waste, forestry and industry, adding that these sectors presented opportunities for green business.

However, he said, to harness the potential, deliberate efforts should be made to create the needed enabling environment for Green Business growth and financing through innovative policies.

Sustainable business, or green business, is an enterprise that has minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy—a business that strives to meet the triple bottom line. Often, sustainable businesses have progressive environmental and human rights policies.

In general, a business is described as green if it incorporates principles of sustainability into each of its business decisions; if it supplies environmentally-friendly products or services that replace demand for non-green products and/or services; if it is greener than traditional competition and if if has made an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations.

A Green Economy can, therefore, be defined as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, that is to say, it aims for “sustainable development without degrading the environment.

Ghana has initiated various interventionist policies, such as the Strategic Natural Energy Policy (SNEP), Ghana Energy Development and Access Project (GEDAP), Ghana National Energy Policy (GNEP) and the Feed In Tariffs (FIT) that promote sound environmental management and healthy ecosystems.

However, due to implementation challenges, the benefits of these policies remain untapped.

The Panel discussions at the Forum, therefore, called for a serious engagement with stakeholders and industry players, that is, dialogue between the government agencies responsible for the development of the policies and the private sector in order to derive the maximum of benefits from the policies.

The Forum, therefore, provided the platform for this engagement.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)