Masdar Engage Winner Seva Karpauskaite: “The international green financing structure is the catalyst we need”

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Thanks to all CleanTechnica readers, writers, and friends who entered the 5th annual Masdar Blogging Contest. Masdar received a record number of entries this year, with 130 entries from more than 40 nations across 6 continents discussing the most critical solutions to mitigate climate change risks over the next decade.

The theme of this year’s Engage Social Media Contest challenged participants to make a case for the solutions that could be most effective in mitigating climate change risks over the next decade. The goal of the contest was to connect the momentum gained from the November COP22 climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, with the enthusiasm building for the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which launched on January 12. For the first time, the contest welcomed submissions in formats other than blogging posts, which led to entries that included videos, slideshows, and Tumblr updates.

The winner of the contest is Seva Karpauskaite, from Kaunus, Lithuania. Her video, filmed with iconic Washington, DC, monuments as a backdrop, explored the need to develop green financing structures that would allow clean technologies to expand and scale in order to reduce climate change risks over the next decade.

Ms. Karpauskaite is the first European and second woman to win the contest. A graduate of King’s College at Cambridge University, Ms. Karpauskaite completed her bachelor’s degree in politics, psychology, and sociology. Currently, she is continuing her studies at the School of International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in International Economics and International Politics with a focus on Energy, Resources, and Environment. Amongst Ms. Karpauskaite’s long-term goals is to combine theoretical insights with practical experience into a future career in sustainability advocacy and consulting.

As the winner of this year’s Engage competition, Ms. Karpauskaite is Masdar’s VIP social media influencer at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), which this year runs from January 12–21.

The contest’s runners-up were offered a complimentary pass for ADSW, which included access to all of the conference’s events. The participants who were also considered as the contest’s finalists were:

  • Evan Rankin, USA
  • Girish Shivakumar, India
  • Samuel Stephens, United Kingdom
  • Mark Bessoudo, Canada
  • Lenka Kollar, USA

Below, you can watch Ms. Karpauskaite’s submission video and read the winning article.

masdar engage blogging contest

 Masdar Engage Social Media Contest Winner, Seva Karpauskaite: The international green financing structure is the catalyst we need

My name is Seva Karpauskaite. I am a graduate student of Energy, Resources and Environment at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University. Living in Washington, DC, a global energy capital, I am surrounded by a global energy debate that is especially heated nowadays. That is why a challenge to focus on longer term, coming from Masdar, based in another energy capital, Abu Dhabi, is appealing: what key development would place us firmly on the path to a low carbon #WorldIn2026?

Let us look at the state of clean technologies. While skeptics wonder whether it is technically possible to satisfy the growing energy demand with sustainable energy sources, experts ranging from the World Wildlife Fund to International Energy Agency and beyond already provide feasible projections. On one condition, though: we have to unlock the financing potential that will enable an accelerated development and deployment of existing and new green technologies and implementation strategies. The international green financing structure is the catalyst we need. Just like building anything new, the transformation of our energy infrastructure to create a low-carbon economy is costly. The World Economic Forum estimates that we need around US$70 trillion in the coming 10 years to make the necessary investments in renewable technology, low-carbon transportation and low-carbon cities.

One of the most important aspects of finance is connecting people, capital, and ideas to drive solutions. Ben Bernanke, who steered the US economy for 8 years as the Chair of the Fed, has called credit the lifeblood of our economies. Likewise, the development of green finance is the lifeblood of the future green economy. The easiest way to understand the role of finance is to compare its role to that of water. Water is vital for all known forms of life. Finance is vital for the functioning and growth of all parts of the economy. Water comes in diverse forms, such as freshwater, vapor, clouds, and ice; and it is used for a variety of purposes, such as drinking and sustenance of life on earth, agriculture, manufacturing, and diverse forms of entertainment. Similarly, financial assets or money comes in many forms, such as commodity money, paper bills and coins, electronic funds, bonds, and financial derivatives. It is also used for diverse purposes — from buying and exchanging basic goods, to international trade, to fueling investment and infrastructure funding.

Utilizing technology to divert waterways and ensure access to water has taken centuries to develop and is still an issue in many places. Luckily, we were faster with financial innovation and we already have the necessary financial instruments and institutions to address sustainable development needs and spur innovation. We just need to stream much larger flows of private and public investment to meet ambitious emissions targets, support local community development, lower energy costs, and advance green technology markets.

Some of the vehicles to focus on include:

  • Green financial institutions, like UK’s Green Investment Bank that acts as a catalyst for attracting finance to develop low-carbon economy. In 2013, it formed an alliance with Masdar, which demonstrates a positive development towards international cooperation between institutions devoted to green finance.
  • Green bonds and other green financial assets, which range from green investments by pension funds to carbon insurance in the insurance industry.
  • International investment agreements, like Mission Innovation (MI) launched at COP21, which encourages 22 countries and the European Union to double their cleantech R&D investment over five years, coupled with Breakthrough Energy Ventures driven by private companies, that aim to match governments’ investments.
  • Financial software applications. For example, Acorns, the mobile investment platform enables commission free investing of spare change. A similar application could help develop green micro-investing, promote financial literacy and engage diverse individuals as green investors.

Another piece of good news is that there is a global abundance of private capital. Pension funds alone have $28 trillion in assets.

So we have the ideas, feasibility studies, models, and capital to transition to a green economy. The influx of private and public capital is the lifeblood for meeting this challenge. What is needed now is decisive leadership from global policymakers, such as those here in Washington, DC, and those meeting in Abu Dhabi to prioritize the development of a global green finance system and spur similar developments around the globe.

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Andrea Bertoli

I'm a marketing and sales professional focused on mission-driven businesses. I'm a journalist, green investor, wellness educator, surfer, and yogi. Find delicious food and wellness stuff on my Instagram @VibrantWellness.

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