Looking Ahead to the Green Growth Summit

The dangers posed by climate change, unemployment rates and transition risk loom large over the MENA-region. However, those negatives may actually be motivating tremendous positive change. The Green Growth Summit, organized by Hivos in partnership with Impact Europe, aims to help turn the tide for green enterprises in the region.

Tom Dinneweth |
Habiba Community, a regenerative farm in the Sinai desert, is leading the way for green enterprises in the region.

A heat wave rolls over Egypt as I talk to our regional partners at Hivos – in fact, the blistering sun is their first topic of conversation during our brief meeting. It’s not just the sun that is bringing the heat, though. As this story goes live, Hivos are gearing up for one of the largest calendar moments in their year: the Green Growth Summit, which is taking place in two locations: Tunis (April 30th) and Cairo (May 14th). 

The Summit, organised with the support of Impact Europe, aims to build partnerships for climate change mitigation and to open green economic pathways in North Africa. To do this more effectively, Hivos have carefully selected a range of business support organisations, small and medium-sized enterprises, investors, and policymakers to attend the event. Representatives of Impact Europe, too, will be there, to contribute to the conversation.

The Green Growth Summit consists of five main tracks: 

  • Green Exports, highlighting the benefits of going green

  • De-risking Green Investment, exploring partnership models and opportunities

  • Green Jobs, focusing on training and capacity building

  • Green Clusters, promoting green value chains and solutions

  • Impact Investing, discussing donor strategies and investor opportunities for green and impact investing


The insistence on the word ‘green’ is, of course, no coincidence. A growing sense of urgency can be seen when it comes to promoting green growth in the region. The COP28 conference in the United Arab Emirates put the discussion of different future environmental scenarios for the region front-and-center. Research from different sources has indicated that the MENA-region is among the world’s most vulnerable regions when it comes to climate change. The local economies, that largely rely on the export of fossil fuels, are exposed to significant transition risk, while changes in temperature and water levels can quickly lead to extreme living conditions. Despite this, the MENA-region is still the smallest recipient of climate change financing worldwide.

For Noha El Sebaie, Hivos’ Manager for Green Employability and Entrepreneurship Programs, focusing on green investments provides a unique opportunity to deal with these issues in a transformative way. “At a time when underemployment, unemployment, and extreme vulnerability to climate change are gaining a stranglehold on North Africa, we cannot afford to ignore the huge unexploited potential of green enterprises”, she says. 

Hivos has been working this angle through different initiatives over recent years. They lead the alliance responsible for the GreenWorks Program, which launched in January of 2020. The program engages with different incubators, accelerators, think tanks, vocational training institutes, and angel investment networks to create around 9.000 sustainable jobs for young women and men in Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. 

"We cannot afford to ignore the huge unexploited potential of green enterprises"
Noha El Sebaie, Hivos’ Manager for Green Employability and Entrepreneurship Programs


A similar goal is put forward by The Challenge Fund for a Just Transition (CFJT), which builds on the work done within the GreenWorks Program. The CFJT supports green small and growing businesses in North Africa, helping them provide and sustain jobs in the green economy for more than 10.000 local people. The project is implemented via a network of micro-clusters, which receive support from Hivos and are mainly composed of micro distributors, micro suppliers and microbusiness clients. So far, the Fund has selected 36 businesses to support.

In preparation for the Green Growth Summit, Hivos also hosted several events in Egypt and Tunisia to facilitate discussions on sustainable growth, the green economy, and investment initiatives. Different round tables and debates across the MENA-region serve to keep the discussion flowing, and to involve crucial players from all countries.

Track for Impact

One outlier track at the Green Growth Summit does not feature the word 'green': it's Impact Investing. For those familiar with our work, it won't be a surprise to see this track appear on the list, though. Impact investments play a crucial role in furthering ESG-goals and in setting up a more green and socially sustainable economy. By filling the gap in traditional financing, impact investments provide social enterprises with much-needed breathing room as well as the opportunity to scale. As such, it deserves special attention. At the back end of 2023, the Egypt Venture Capital Summit featured an impact investing track for the very first time, introducing hundreds of venture capital funds to this alternate way of investing. With the Green Growth Summit, it is time to build on this momentum. 

Impact investments are also what binds together Hivos and Impact Europe. Just last year, both organisations partnered up for our EU-funded Impact Together!-project, which aims to help promote the social economy in the MENA-region, with a focus on (youth) employment. The project aims to achieve this goal by launching and optimising impact funds, by offering capacity building and by enhancing policy dialogue at the national, regional and EU levels. Hivos' experience with the MENA-region and with green impact investments, in particular, has proven to aid this process greatly. 

At the Green Growth Summit, we hope to expand upon our growing network of impact people in the region. There's a special place for community building, networking and partnerships within Impact Together!. Throughout the project, we are looking to exploit synergies with our other market building project in Eastern Europe, Collaborate For Impact. During our launch event in Torino, we introduced our national partners to our own network. Similarly, we aim to bring our expertise to their doorstep.

We will keep you updated with experiences, reactions and stories from the Green Growth Summit over the next few weeks. Stay tuned, and don't forget - always wear sunscreen.