Can Sustainable Finance Catch-Up With Young People’s Sense of Urgency?
Last week, there were serious of meetings on sustainable development and Sustainable Development Goals in Istanbul as Professor Jeffrey Sachs, head of UN SDSN was visiting town. I was at two of them; BCSD Turkey’s Sustainable Finance Meeting and SDSN Turkey’s meeting at Bogazici University.
It is always a pleasure to listen to Jeffrey Sachs; his messages are clear, his criticisms are direct and he always sides with future generations. The audience leaves with a what-to-do-list.
Here are a few of his messages that were important for me:
Messages on Sustainable Development:
· Mission of sustainable development is to make the world economy change directions
· Sustainable development tries to make world safe to live again and economy to work again
· World will address the climate change. The question is whether it will address it timely
· We have to find ways to make the economic progress inclusive, socially fair and environmentally sustainable
· There are six transformation challenges of sustainable development:
1) Education, inclusion, jobs and growth
2) Health and wellbeing
3) Clean energy and circular economy
4) Sustainable food and land use
5) Smart cities and transport
6) Digital technologies and e-governance
· To overcome these challenges, we need cooperation beyond the current politics on issues such as:
1) Technological pathways
2) Regional cooperation
3) Budget strategy and massive financing for the SDGs
4) Policy framework
5) Directed R&D
6) Metrics and monitoring
· These challenges need particular solutions for every region and country, including Turkey
Messages on Turkish Economy and the West Asia Region:
· Turkey will lose money if it invests money on coal
· Turkey will not be using coal in 30 years to come; so any investment now made, will be stranded asset
· Turkey should concentrate on ‘directed R&D’ to overcome two very important issues:
1) Decarbonizing the Turkish Economy
2) Cleaning Black Sea
· Common challenges for the Turkey and West Asia Region:
1) Regional conflicts (specifically meddling of third countries in regional conflicts)
2) Desertification and being very vulnerable to climate change
5) Gender inequality
6) Science and technology
· Number of instruments linked to sustainable development financing is increasing. Multinationals, development banks and private markets are all facilitating these instruments. Beyond green bonds, general-purpose loans linked to sustainable development goals are emerging. The trick for the companies is to show their commitment to specific targets of their own and their follow-up.
· Conditions on fosil-fuel financing is getting stricter; especially coal financing. It will not be surprising to see any new financing on coal on the sectorial sanction list in a few years time.
· All countries need to develop a clear matrix for their own goals. Prioritization will be necessary here.
· Question for Turkey should be ‘what does Turkey want to achieve via sustainable development goals in 10 years time?’
· Young people feel that the economic elites (both politicians and the business) are betraying them with their priorities and policy choices. They see both groups as the laggards
· Turkey (or any country for that matter) should develop its own mission-oriented sustainable development goals and make the public, and especially young people, own them