On April 22 every year, the world celebrates Earth Day, one of the main international environmental occasions to demonstrate support for environmental protection and raise awareness on important environmental themes for humankind. The first World Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and has since been observed globally every year by almost all countries.
Over the past few decades, unsustainable development by humankind has caused a triple planetary crisis: climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Earth Day serves as a reminder of our responsibility to reduce carbon emissions, restore biodiversity loss, and eliminate all forms of pollution to protect the planet for future generations.
It must be understood that governments, businesses, and civil society are equally responsible for taking action against the planetary crisis and igniting the spark to accelerate change towards a green investment for a prosperous and just future.
The 2023 Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet,” designed to persuade businesses, governments, and citizens worldwide of the need to invest in our planet to improve our environment and provide a better and safer future for our descendants.
While environmental conferences, events, campaigns, cleaning beaches, and recycling are all crucial for environmental protection and sustainability, real change can only happen through “Green Investment” in various sectors and the shift towards a green economy.
Investing in a green economy is the only path to realising sustainability on the ground. Green investment presents an excellent business opportunity for young entrepreneurs and sparks innovation to come up with creative, clean solutions and products.
Driving significant change
Green entrepreneurs have the power to drive significant change, with both the necessary scale and speed. Thus, governments must enact necessary green policies that incentivise their citizens and businesses to invest in various green business sectors.
It is worth mentioning that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are accelerating the shift towards a green economy in line with their visions for 2030 and sustainable development goals.
The UAE launched the Green Economy initiative in 2012, under the slogan “A green economy for sustainable development” and has become a world leader in green investment and green economy with many pioneer initiatives and projects in recent years that aim at offsetting and reducing emissions, increasing the UAE’s use of clean energy, and addressing climate change, such as Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technique to mitigate climate change, investing in green mobility, green buildings, energy efficiency, renewables, and green hydrogen.
Earth Day is ideal, especially for raising awareness among citizens and younger generations about the need for conservation of our environment and natural resources. However, humankind faces huge challenges as well as opportunities for Earth Day 2023, which is an excellent occasion to start acting to safeguard our environment.
The biggest challenge is the current economic turmoil the world is witnessing; thus, governmental incentives for green investment are highly crucial at this stage.
We all have a role to play in this green revolution, but it is the private sector, in particular, that has a specific responsibility. Without the private sector taking the lead in green investments, all efforts to have a green future will go in vain.
Dr Mohamed Abdel Raouf is an independent environment researcher.