The first phase of Project Cygnus will deploy €1m in EIT Climate-KIC funding to analyse current economic and environmental investment trends to support regions and countries in their recovery.
Non-profit Icebreaker One is calling on national and regional administrations, asset managers, investors and leaders to collaborate on a new initiative to help support regions and countries in their economic recovery from Covid-19 while accelerating their net-zero carbon emission goals.
Project Cygnus has been selected to receive funding as part of the “Pandemic Response Projects”, a €60m action launched in May 2020 to contribute to the European Union’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is one of the two instruments of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Crisis Response Initiative.
Icebreaker One, a non-profit focused on unlocking the data needed to deliver a net-zero future, has joined forces with Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence at the University of Edinburgh, the University College Dublin and United Nations Environment Programme to deliver the programme of work.
Set to be delivered in 2020, the first phase of Project Cygnus will deploy €1m in EIT Climate-KIC funding to analyse current economic and environmental investment trends.
This will include those caused by the current pandemic as well as those pre-dating Covid-19 but which might have been exacerbated by it. The aim is to develop strategies for investment and policy-making that will address fragility and opportunities in the current systems that have been exposed by the pandemic.
According to Icebreaker, it will identify potential investment risks, and opportunities to drive both carbon neutrality and economic growth. It will also ‘unpack’ how to unlock access to data flows that can fuel informed future investment and policy decisions in a “timely, robust and scalable” manner.
“If we are serious about building resilient and sustainable economies, we also need to be serious about achieving net-zero: the two are intrinsically linked”
The knowledge and insights gathered will be used to develop tools, data infrastructure and policy recommendations, as well as economic modelling needed to support a post-pandemic transition that addresses net-zero investments.
“Both Covid-19 and climate change are major economic and social threats: it is vital that we tackle them in tandem. If we are serious about building resilient and sustainable economies, we also need to be serious about achieving net-zero: the two are intrinsically linked,” said Gavin Starks, founder and CEO, Icebreaker One.
“As vast investments are unlocked to help restart our economies, we have a unique opportunity to build into the future we want. This project will help us make decisions based on facts, evidence and needs combined with cutting-edge research and data science.”
Phase two will build on the foundations of the first phase by providing investors, policy-makers and decision-makers with practical tools to address the challenges of achieving economic recovery while also transitioning to net-zero.
“The dreadful impact of the pandemic has highlighted the need for better data, to enable quicker, more targeted interventions”
Central to the success of Project Cygnus will be collaboration with partners across the public and private sectors, Icebreaker One notes.
“We are pleased to be part of Project Cygnus because it provides the opportunity for better data-driven insights, which in turn will help collective decision-making about how we improve our planet and economies, and strengthen their resilience against crises, such as Covid19,” added Damien McCarrigle, programme lead at the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence at the University of Edinburgh.
He continued: “One of the key questions being asked now is: If we had higher quality data to better understand our economy, how much of the financial and human cost could we have avoided? The dreadful impact of the pandemic has highlighted the need for better data, to enable quicker, more targeted interventions. The Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence offers the facility to do this through research and innovation – and we look forward to helping Project Cygnus gain valuable insights.”
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