In 2021, LQ BID (an independent not for profit company) launched Northern Ireland's first sustainable district, in Belfast, with a series of ten initiatives to make the Linen Quarter the most sustainable business area in the region.
Building on this launch, we organised RE[act] Festival, a completely new NI festival that sought to inspire – and lead – a more sustainable Belfast (and Northern Ireland).
An important topic covered in the festival was sustainable finance, to understand in more detail why investors are seeking and holding funds specifically to invest in companies with an environmental focus; and what sustainable finance can offer Northern Ireland's businesses and economy.
The event featured Bod Buckby of London Stock Exchange and William McCulla at Invest NI, with attendees receiving new information and insights into how sustainable finance has changed the corporate funds landscape, and where their business could find sustainable finance support.
The emerging merits of sustainable finance - while becoming the norm - are now fully known to regional businesses. Drawing on knowledge, experience and networks we were able to bring together a small panel of experts to start a public conversation on 1) why should we support an NI sustainable economy, 2) how is the market supporting businesses, and 3) where further advice can be found.
The questions businesses may want to ask themselves are what are the bigger, international trends affecting our business? How can we make our supply chain more resilient by choosing a more sustainable path? How can we reuse or redesign our products and services to ensure that the demand for these remains? How can we ensure our supply chain is sustainable?
A short introductory structure was developed with the expert panel outlining the enormous opportunity for our cities, local businesses, and the NI Executive to maximise the advantages from the global shift to clean growth through to the development, manufacture and use of low carbon technologies, systems and services that cost less than high carbon alternatives. All important as Northern Ireland sits within a much wider international marketplace.
The event was not developed as a technical workshop rather a high-level concept platform to stimulate further conversation and events - where the merits and the 'hows' can be explored in detail.
We would encourage other cities and districts to consider starting their own conversations with local business leaders and government on the benefits of sustainable finance and creating the transition towards a sustainable economy.
Linen Quarter BID's metrics
Positive evaluation by participants.