Experts see opportunities in going green

Adnan Kassar speaks during the Arab Forum for Green Economy in Beirut, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Economists, bankers and experts Thursday called for more investment in the green sector, seeing opportunities to grow Lebanon’s overall economy.

“The rising interest in climate change and the growth in population have increased the importance of boosting the green economy by investing in environmentally friendly projects,” said Haroutioun Samuelian, vice governor at the Central Bank of Lebanon.

Samuelian emphasized the importance of investing in green projects, while highlighting Central Bank initiatives in the sector.

“The facilities offered by the central bank in this framework include loans offered to turn old and existing projects to environmentally friendly projects in addition to investing in new ones,” he said.

Samuelian’s remarks came during the Arab Green Economy Forum organized by the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture and LibanPack held Wednesday at the Adnan Kassar Edifice in Jnah.

Samuelian cited the International Energy Agency as saying annual investments of around $750 billion would be needed until 2030 to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 50 percent by 2050.

“Over $1.6 trillion yearly is needed from 2030 to 2050 for that purpose as well,” he said.

“However, investments in this field are still insufficient.”

Adnan Kassar, president of the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, emphasized the need to adapt green practices in light of the deterioration of the environment in the Arab world, adding that proper environmental conditions were a prerequisite to successful performance of economic activities.

Ziad Bekdache, vice president of the Association of Lebanese industrialists, cited the association’s contributions to raising awareness among industrialists of the need to adopt cleaner production methods.

He called upon the Lebanese government to support the concept of green industries to improve industrial development and increase sustainability in the country.

“We also call upon regional and international organizations to allocate a budget and offer technical support for the implementation of programs that support green industries in Lebanon,” he added.

Fady Gemayel, president of LibanPack, said the paper manufacturing industry, which supports 7,600 families, was suffering from high production costs.

Gemayel pointed to European countries that have boosted their overall economic success by adopting green practices.

“The private sector in Lebanon has also improved a number of green industries without any supportive policies,” he said.

Muttassim Mahmassani, general manager of Al-Baraka Bank, said that one of the most important aspects of corporate social responsibility to develop recently in the banking sector was the notion of “green banking.”

“Green Banking is generally defined as promoting environmentally friendly practices that aid customers in reducing their carbon footprint through their banking operation activities,” he said, citing practices such as online banking, statements, bill payments and account opening.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 14, 2014, on page 5.




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