Communication for Sustainable Development

Sustainable investment in the Middle East and North Africa

The World Bank GroupImage by liangjinjian via Flickr
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, on January 26 published the first report measuring the amount of sustainable investment in the Middle East and North Africa, The report found that while current volumes are small, there is scope for much greater sustainable investment in the region.

The report, Sustainable Investment in the Middle East and North Africa, assesses current levels of sustainable investment awareness, practices and demand in the MENA region and identifies opportunities to increase the flow of sustainable investment funds to MENA and develop this increasingly important market segment.

Sustainable investment factors environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and corporate governance (ESG) into investment decisions and processes, according to IFC.

Selcuk Tanatar, Manager of the IFC’s Sustainable Business Advisory in MENA, said, “This report is part of IFC's increasing efforts to promote sustainable investment, and while the research indicates that sustainable investment remains nascent in the MENA region, fairly strong interest expressed by regional investors means considerable opportunity for the sector to grow in the near future.”

About $54 billion, or a little over two percent of total assets under management in the region, is believed to be managed according to sustainable investment principles.

Shariah-complaint investments make up the majority of these assets, with under 0.7 percent of assets under management taking into account other ESG factors.

As part of its strategy to promote sustainable investment, IFC is supporting the launch of the first ESG index in the Middle East and North Africa on February 1, 2011. The index was developed by Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance, and global indices and ratings provider Standard & Poor’s, with support from IFC.

IFC promotes the development of capital and financial markets through greater availability and adoption of sustainability-related financial products. IFC supports sustainable development by working to optimize energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions and promoting the uptake of renewable energy technologies to provide the poorest members of society with access to energy. Additionally, IFC works to facilitate the adoption of water efficient processes and technologies across industries

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