The benefits of going green

THIS is one of those trends that we will look back at in 20 years time and wonder why we didn’t seize the business opportunities back in 2012.
The message from the just-ended 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, popularly known as COP17 is crystal clear. The greening movement is upon us and I can see it gaining momentum in years to come. If one is to apply the principle of the blue ocean strategy, that is,“creating uncontested market space and rendering competition irrelevant” then the green business in Lesotho is certainly one of them. Let’s take a closer look: Global support: One of the key outcomes from COP 17 is the decision to launch the Green Climate Fund which developed nations will contribute to and developing nations such as Lesotho can access in the form of grants or loans. Its main focus will be to finance adaptation and mitigation programmes at country level, including those involving vulnerable groups and addressing gender aspects. There is a private sector clause whereby the Fund will directly and indirectly finance activities of the private sector, including small-to-medium businesses.I can see opportunities for environmental consultants to assist the government, NGOs and the corporate sector in not only drawing up low emissiondevelopment strategies but implementing and monitoring the programmes too. Recycling: This is a business area still in its infancy and there is money to be made from the trash that we produce in our homes. What are needed are colour-coded refuse bags, one each for bottles, paper and plastic. Once full the company can collect these for sale to big recycling companies or they can process the material if they have the expertise and equipment. There are other innovative ways of collecting waste material. In South Africa there are a number of projects involving school children. Every Monday, children bring the paper, bottles or plastic that they would have collected. This is weighed and they are paid in the form of points. There is a special store at the school where they redeem the points in return for groceries and other items. The woman running this project said the most popular item was toilet paper and a few of the children saved up their points over a long period of time and are now getting bicycles. And no, the children are not spending time at rubbish dumps. Many have made arrangements with restaurants, retail stores and other shops to collect the items directly from them. Event greening: This is a term which women involved in events are advised to take seriously if they are to differentiate themselves from the competition. The organisers of COP17 were determined that the conference itself would leave a small carbon footprint. They prepared guidelines adapted from the South African National Greening Framework for service providers, sub-contractors and participants to follow. Event greening refers to the process “of incorporating socially and environmentally responsible decision-making into the planning, organisation and implementation of, and participation in, an event irrespective of scale”. Some of the ideas that event organisers can implement are: the separation of waste at source thereby reducing the waste that goes to refuse dumps; use of renewable energy sources such as natural light and ventilation; procurement of local products such as fruit and vegetables which have not been shipped long distances and controlled water usage. It’s not farfetched to suggest that a company that places itself at the forefront with regard to incorporating green practices will be well placed to do business with big corporates who take environmental issues seriously. I can see the green element of doing business becoming a key part of any business proposal. We lament the fact that women operate in saturated markets with little or no differentiation and yet here is an industry which is set to grow in scale and importance. Women who may not have the literacy level to exploit these opportunities themselves can be roped in at the grassroots level. This is also an opportune time for young women to position themselves for the future by studying subjects relevant to mitigating and adapting to climate change.

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