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This post was co-written with Saurabh Lall, Research Director of Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). ANDE is a global network of over 170 member organizations that focus on the potential of small and growing businesses (SGBs) around the world to create economic, social and environmental impact.

Over the past few years, we have seen tremendous growth in impact investing, investments made to generate both a financial and a social/environmental return. The sector now manages about US$40 billion.

While this growth on the supply side of mission-driven capital has been tremendous, we must now focus on the demand side—in other words, the entrepreneurs themselves. It’s essential to ensure that there are enough entrepreneurs and small and growing businesses (SGBs) out there to address today’s complex, global challenges. These businesses must also have the capacity to take on the type of capital that impact investors have to offer. Accelerators and incubators are and will be increasingly critical to achieving these goals.

Accelerators are groups that provide business development support to enterprises with existing customers and revenue, while incubators typically serve earlier stage enterprises (pre-customers and pre-revenue). These types of groups can help grow environmental entrepreneurship by ensuring that demand meets supply; in other words, a strong pipeline of deals is ready to meet the growing supply of capital.

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The Global Impact Investment Network defines impact investments as “investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.” Few people understand that concept better than Jed Emerson.

A recognized international leader in the field of strategic philanthropy and impact investing, Emerson has spent more than two decades exploring how capital investment strategies may be executed to create multiple returns. Currently, he is Chief Impact Strategist at ImpactAssets, a senior fellow with Heidelberg University’s Center for Social Investing, and a senior advisor to the Sterling Group in Hong Kong. In 2011, he co-authored the book, Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making A Difference, the first book published on the topic of impact investing. We caught up with Emerson to discuss how impact investors can help developing market entrepreneurs increase their economic, environmental, and social impacts.

1) If you were in an elevator with a promising developing country environmental entrepreneur, what would be your advice on how to lock-in investment (whether from the traditional or impact investment community)?

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This week’s Business 20, or “B20,” summit in Los Cabos, Mexico signals the launch of the Green Growth Action Alliance (G2A2), a partnership between the public and private sectors designed to dramatically scale-up private investment in “green” sectors like renewable energy, clean transportation, and sustainable agriculture.

The G2A2 includes representatives ranging from financial institutions like HSBC, to corporations like Walmart, to key public sector actors like the World Bank Group. WRI joins the effort alongside other environmentally focused organizations as an “analytical supporter,” providing research input and guidance to the G2A2’s upcoming activities.

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This post also appears on Forbes.com

Google is backing it. So is Warren Buffett, America’s most-watched investor. GE, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers, is too.

Each of these corporate icons is placing big bets and hundreds of millions of dollars on a future powered by wind and solar power. Apple just joined them, announcing plans to power its main U.S. data center in Maiden, North Carolina, entirely with renewable energy by the end of this year. So why - yet again - are pundits making dire warnings about prospects for renewable energy?

The answer is that the clean tech industry is at a critical crossroads.

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Clean tech in the United States has been on the rise in recent years— even through the recession and other challenges. Increasing wind power, falling solar costs, expanding electric vehicle markets, government stimulus and other investments have built a global clean tech sector that topped $263 billion last year.

In the first quarter of 2012, however, global clean energy investment dropped to its lowest level since 2008. Good news stories are being replaced with headlines about closing factories, bankruptcies, and cancelled projects. Clean tech appears to be at a crucial inflection point.

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Opportunities in China for impact investing are growing, where investors look to create positive social and environmental benefits alongside returns. Impact investors actively choose to put their money into companies that address social and environmental issues through their business models. Tao Zhang, the Chief Operating Officer of New Ventures, WRI’s center for environmental entrepreneurship with local operations in China and five other high growth markets, answers questions on the country’s current investment climate for environmentally-focused small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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This piece was written with Catarina Freitas, a Brazilian legal intern with WRI's Institutions and Governance Program.

On September 20, eight governments will gather in New York to launch the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a new multilateral initiative to strengthen transparency, citizen participation, accountability, and share new technologies and innovation. The Brazilian and U.S. governments are leading the initiative, which also involves the governments of Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United Kingdom as founding members.

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This post was written with Pablo Torres, an intern with the Two Degrees of Innovation project.

In these turbulent economic times, leaders around the world are looking to strengthen their economies and create jobs. They are grappling with how to effectively capitalize on the green economy to drive growth. In a new WRI working paper, we look at ways that policymakers can create new green jobs through investments in innovation to meet our challenges in the power sector.

Building the capacity to innovate is a key competitiveness strategy. Successfully competing in the growing low-carbon power sector is no different. However, innovation—improvements in cost and performance—can also close the gap between the low-carbon technologies of today and the low-cost, high-performance technologies the world needs. Policymakers have a crucial role to play in supporting innovators and creating a dynamic innovation ecosystem where they can thrive.

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This piece, by Pete Maniego and Lutz Weischer, originally appeared in the Manila Bulletin.

The global energy system is undergoing a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. There are clear signs that the pace of change is accelerating. 2009 was the second year in a row that more money was invested worldwide in renewable electricity generation projects than in fossil fuel-powered plants, according to data published by the United Nations.

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The landscape of development finance is changing rapidly. Traditionally, international financial flows moved from developed countries to developing countries. In the last decade, however, major emerging economies such as China and Brazil have fueled a growing trend of South-South development flows by increasingly channeling their overseas investments to other developing countries.

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Ready to scale up, six environmental entrepreneurs from around the world make their case to investors in New York City.

The inaugural New Ventures Global Investor Forum, held last week in New York City, showed how environmental entrepreneurship can provide clean economic growth and investment opportunities in emerging markets. Six environmentally-focused entrepreneurs presented their business models to an audience of over 160 leading investors and businesspeople. The forum, themed “Green Opportunities in Tomorrow’s Markets,” showcased a wide range of companies, from Ouro Verde, a sustainable Brazil nut harvester working with Amazonian communities, to Sinen En-Tech, a Chinese industrial steam recycling company helping its industrial customers reduce energy and water use.

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