The first Iraqi bank to support environmentally friendly projects, the Green Bank of Iraq, is launched with three main branches with a capital of 400 billion Iraqi dinars IQD (USD300 Million).
The bank's overall goal is to mitigate the impacts of climate change in Iraq, generating 100,000 job opportunities as the first phase.
The bank, which was opened on Monday, December 5, at the Iraq Pavilion in the Climate Change Summit (COP28) in Dubai, UAE, is the first bank to develop environmentally friendly projects. The opening ceremony was attended by Nizar Amedi, Iraqi Minister of Environment, and Ali Alaq, Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq CBI.
The bank is currently investing 100 billion dinars in projects. It aims to implement projects worth 250 billion dinars between 2025 and 2027.
Mohammed Shakir, the founder of the bank, told KirkukNow: “Our bank is not a lending bank, but a bank that manages projects and invests in them. We receive ideas for environmental projects, find companies in the private sector to work on them, deposit the project capital in the bank, and invest it.”
According to United Nations UN statistics and warnings, Iraq is ranked fifth among the countries most affected by the repercussions of climate change, which include the risks of water scarcity, drought, high temperatures, pollution, and other natural disasters.
More than 20,000 people have been forced to flee Iraq by the end of 2021 due to water shortages, according to the UN. Iraq annually burns 17 billion cubic meters of associated natural gas when drilling for oil, according to an energy expert.
We receive ideas for environmental projects, find companies in the private sector to work on them
Regarding the strategy of the bank, Shakir said, “The bank's administrative system is organized in a way that a high commission consisting of experts checks all projects and they decide whether to approve a project: our terms are appropriate, the project is environmentally friendly and will mitigate the impacts of climate change or not nor?"
The bank currently has three main branches, one in the center of Baghdad and the other two in the north and south of Baghdad.
The bank has decided not to charge interest on the capital allocated to fund the eco-friendly projects. Most of the procedures are done electronically.
Renewable energy projects, carbon reduction, and environmentally friendly projects are the most important projects they are currently working on, Shakir added.
"The impact of climate change is universal and has affected the whole of Iraq. We are proud to have the Iraqi Ministry of Environment through which we can stand in the face of climate change," said Alaq, governor of the CBI at the opening ceremony.
“We are often criticized on this issue, but supporting the Green Bank project, which is unique in the Middle East, demonstrates our commitment to mitigating the impacts of climate change," he added.
The governor believes that climate change affects the economy and inflation and they are funding eco-friendly projects.
"Environmental problems have a direct impact on economic growth, and ultimately this will affect the stabilization of the currency and high inflation that we have. We are working on them directly and we aim to stabilize them,” the governor said.
"We have spent trillions of dinars on the development of renewable energy sources and we will continue to support them."
Minister of Environment affirmed that the current cabinet pays high attention to climate change and develops mechanism to fight it.
"The PM cabinet has started seriously working on climate change issues," Environment Minister Nizar Amedi told KirkukNow. “For the first time in Iraq's history, Iraq has a pavilion at the peak of climate change. This project and the other projects that exist demonstrate the fact that we are working intensively on climate change issues.
We are intensively working on climate change issues
"The bank aims to create 100,000 environmentally friendly jobs for young graduates in the first phase," Shakir said at the opening ceremony.
“With the national Joint Stock Companies, there is a production project to build a solar power plant with a capacity of 100,000 megawatts. We will also build an environmentally friendly city in partnership with Diamond Developers, the same company that has developed the environmentally friendly city of Dubai."
In the long run, the bank plans to build energy projects from waste that does not pollute the air, build date and olive orchards, and develop industries operating with renewable energy.”
This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.