Green mosque

To clean up the world’s technology and infrastructure, we’re going to need everyone’s buy-in, regardless of philosophy or creed.

We’ve looked at how religion’s been going green in strictly a bricks and mortar sense on this blog before – but how do you get potential investors involved in large-scale green-tech projects who are forbidden by the law of their religion to lend money for gain i.e. receive or charge interest?

For Muslim would-be investors, this is indeed the case. Shari’ah law forbids the lending of money for gain. Up to now, this has not been on the cusp of the green-tech mainstream – but Energy and Environmental Management magazine recently brought this to more people’s attention.

It seems that this has been a rumbling issue for the power-players of green finance. One cannot fail to observe that there’s plenty of capital available in often resource-rich Islamic countries. What’s more, there’s also the theological imperative there for sustainability – putting money towards the good of fellow men and women.

Here’s where sukuk, or the Islamic equivalent of investment bonds, comes in. And more specifically, the Green sukuk Working Group, a coalition of experts in this complex field, who aim to kick-start something of a clean-tech funding boom. 

The bonds work, quite literally, by the book, only this is a holy text as opposed to something decreed by the IMF.

2011 was a record year for sukuk, and it’s expected to become an even bigger market this one. HSBC has suggested the number of sukuk bonds issued could rise by half again. Michael Grifferty of the Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association, who you’d imagine would have an inside track on this sort of financial model, expands thus:

“Interest in both Shari’ah compliant and ethical investing is on the rise. Green sukuk can support this trend by expanding the range of available financial instruments. They also support national development strategies by offering longer term finance for essential infrastructure.”

The long-term bit’s key here. A more sustainable world will not come about by knee-jerk – steady but purposeful change is what it’s all about. With green energy becoming an increasingly key area of interest for those with capital and an interest in seeing wider societal benefits rather than simply personally reaping them, there’s hope here. The supporters of green technology shouldn’t be an exclusive club, so it’s good to see all efforts are being made to open doors.