Speaking at the launch of the Government-backed initiative, he said green financial services offered the “most important market of the 21st century”.
The Government has pledged seed funding of €6.8 million over three years.
That support will help ensure “Ireland has a pivotal role to play in what has been described as the most important market of the 21st century,” Mr Cowen said.
The Green IFSC Steering Group has identified an opportunity for Ireland to play a key role in this market by building on existing IFSC strengths, he added.
“By supporting the establishment of the ‘Green IFSC’, Ireland is positioning itself as a leading financial services centre for the management of carbon and green finance, including the establishment of a government-supported International Carbon Standard (ICS) and associated Dublin International Voluntary Offset Registry (DIVOR).”
The initiative will help maintain the competitive advantage of the IFSC and has the potential to generate over €6 billion in revenues while underpinning the development of the smart economy, he said.
With 12,000 employed in fund management at the IFSC, the Taoiseach said Ireland has proved its ability to identify and exploit the potential offered in global financial services.
That involved creating strong partnerships between government and business and Mr Cowen said the plan aims to recreate that success in the green sector.
Financial Services Ireland (FSI), the IBEC group that represents financial services companies, has welcomed Government approval of the Green IFSC initiative.
The initiative will develop and implement a cohesive strategy to position Ireland as a world-class centre for green finance and enterprise.
FSI director Brendan Bruen said global carbon trading volumes were expected to hit $1 trillion by 2020 and the initiative “will position Ireland to take full advantage of the commercial opportunities that are emerging”.
The IFSC employs 33,000 across a range of services and the green financial services end can add significantly to that figure, Mr Bruen said.
“The critical mass of green finance activity already exists in the IFSC, from project finance to asset management, fund servicing and insurance. Ireland is already a world-leading centre for asset finance and leasing, and with the right approach we can also become a leading exporter of green financial services.
“The success of Irish green enterprise companies has already fostered a reputation for Ireland as a global centre of excellence,” Mr Bruen added.