Green funding for Europe’s farmers and hurricane-proof solar in the Caribbean: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and sustainability leadership.

Across the UK and across the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Hurricane-resistant solar plant opens in Barbuda


While the world added 50% more renewable generation capacity in 2023 than in 2022, this growth was largely concentrated in the Global North. The International Energy Agency is urging a tripling of annual finance for clean energy in emerging and developing countries by 2030.

A positive development in this field this week has been the completion of a hurricane-resistant hybrid energy plan on Barbuda. The Caribbean Island was devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and has needed to build back more resilient infrastructure.

With support from UAE-based energy firm Masdar, the Island has constructed a 720kWp solar power station designed to survive 265-km-per-hour winds. The plant also includes battery energy storage totaling 863kWh and back-up generators.

It is estimated that the new facility will help the island reduce its annual CO2e emissions by a million tonnes, through the avoidance of diesel use.

“The Green Barbuda project will ensure a more resilient energy supply for the country, helping to accelerate economic growth and provide tangible benefits to local communities,” said Masdar’s chief executive Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi.

RESOURCES: Virgin Media O2 launches expanded electronics trade-in scheme


Electronic and electrical waste, known as e-waste, is regarded as the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream by the UN. And the UK is a significant offender – MPs recently revealed that the average British home has 20 unused electronic items, partly due to low awareness of where to properly recycle these items.

Virgin Media O2 this week launched a new campaign encouraging Brits to recycle their old gaming consoles, smartphones, earbuds, smart watches and MacBooks, to coincide with Global Recycling Day on Monday 18 March.

The O2 Recycle scheme has been expanded to include PlayStation, Xbox,  Nintendo and Oculus consoles. Gamers simply need to use freepost to send their unwanted consoles to the business for repair, refurbishment and resale – and they then receive cash based on the resale value of their goods. Items that cannot be resold are recycled, with Virgin Media O2 promising no waste to landfill for the scheme.

Virgin Media O2’s chief sustainability officer Dana Haidan said the scheme has already paid out some £340m and enabled the recycling of almost four million devices.

MOBILITY: Ile-de-France Mobilités launches €1bn green bond programme


Ile-de-France Mobilités, the regional public transport service, voted in 2018 to switch to 100% electric, hydrogen and hybrid biomethane buses by 2035. It subsequently outlined plans to spend €1.8bn on transitioning 3,500 buses to zero-emission and low-emission models between 2025 and 2028.

To support this project, the organisation this week issued a €1bn green bond package for a 25-year transaction. This brings its total cumulative green bond issuance to €5.3bn.

Funding from the bond will be spent on buses, as well as aerial cableways, charging infrastructure and service quality improvements.

A statement from the organisation reads: “ This record demand on a single tranche, with more than 200 accounts, consolidates Île-de-France Mobilités’ position as a key player in the ESG space with its ninth  green issue since the first issued in May 2021, as well as the second top syndicated French green issuer since 2021 (excluding the sovereign).”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: West London’s One Olympia receives ‘WELL’ precertification


As workers return to the office more frequently following Covid-19 lockdowns, many employers are re-thinking the impact that workspaces can have on employee wellbeing. The WELL certification can help them prove to staff that their design choices can nurture, rather than undermine, mental and physical health.

The developers of West-London-Based One Olympia are this week celebrating Well Precertification. Set to open in early 2025, the development will feature office, a live music venue, a theatre, a school, hotels, restaurants and bars.

It features biophilic design, passive cooling and air circulation, more than 50,000 square feet of external terrace space and extensive cycle storage. It will also include a cycle and wellness hub plus food and beverage outlets focused on healthy nutrition.

SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP: HeavyFinance launches €50m fund to help farmers cut emissions


Reducing farm emissions is a hot-button topic at the moment. Agriculture and land-use account for around a quarter of annual global emissions and this must be addressed to keep the Paris Agreement within reach. Recent farmer protests in Europe have ignited debate on how best this can be achieved while improving farmer livelihoods and not over-burdening already over-stretched.

Agriculture finance specialist HeavyFinance recently announced a €50m fund that will be allocated to help farming businesses decarbonise and shift to regenerative practices, with a focus on SMEs that face greater barriers to accessing finance.

The European Investment Fund and Invest EU are supporting the fund, which will provide finance to organisations in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal. Only small and medium-sized businesses will be eligible to receive this funding, in the form of mid-term debt capital.

HeavyFinance’s chief executive Laimonas Noreika said: “Farmers are facing unprecedented challenges due to climate change, but they are also at the forefront of finding innovative nature-based solutions. This fund represents a crucial step in HeavyFinance’s commitment to eliminating one gigaton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050.”


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