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EU to Launch Environmental Auction

The European Union is launching for the first time a so-called environmental auction in which potential donors can bid on international environmental projects that the 27-member bloc cannot afford to fund.

Interested in community development in Afghanistan or poverty reduction in Peru? What about biodiversity or fighting desertification in Africa? If these initiatives sound interesting to you - and you are willing to spend some money to invest in them, you may want to participate in an environmental "auction" in Brussels on March 13.

The so-called "Auction Floor" is being held by the European Union for roughly 100 environmental projects from around the world that the bloc deems are worth financing - but can't afford to do so itself.

"In the specific field of climate change and environment we have received a lot of projects and we cannot finance all of them. But all of these projects, we have selected 100 worldwide, we think are worthy of being financed. We have done the preliminary studies on those so we know they could have an effect and they could be useful. But we have limited means," explained European Commission spokeswoman Christiane Hohmann.

Potential donors invited to participate at the auction could be governments, foundations or even companies. The March 13 event is not an auction per se, but rather a chance to learn about the projects from EU experts who have evaluated them and people who are running them. But if there are several interested parties, then there may be an auction-style competition for a given project.

And there are plenty of projects to choose from, ranging from fighting desertification, climate change and deforestation to improving biodiversity and sustainable development.

"So to give you an example, if I go into desertification, there's a project in Afghanistan to have a community led initiative for sustainable natural resource management. There is an initiative in Peru for poverty reduction through equitable compensation for hydrological services," said Christiane Hohmann.

This is the first time ever the EU is auctioning off environmental projects, but if next month's event is successful, it may not be the last time.