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FEATURE: What do we know about green growth in practice? Learning from ‘hard evidence’


Sam Bickersteth, CDKN’s Chief Executive, responds to a new knowledge resource launched today in London: Green Growth in Practice – Lessons from Country Experiences.

More jobs, economic growth, a cleaner and more pleasant environment? If these are the promises of green growth then surely everyone wants to go in that direction. At the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 many countries, including the least developed country group, indicated their desire to move to a green economy model. A range of reports have also been produced on the subject of green economy and green growth by leading development organisations – the World Bank, OECD, AfDB and UNESCAP and UNEP.

Now a new report on green growth, Green Growth in Practice – Lessons from Country Experiences, has been produced with support from CDKN, the European Climate Foundation and GGGI, with one big difference. This report provides a systematic and comprehensive review of green growth in practice and reflects on both the opportunities and the challenges.

Over the past year, 75 experts have been assessing green growth good practices around the world, and documenting the results in order to inform policymakers and practitioners. These have covered a wide range of strategies, plans and programmes which are often known under a range of labels including green growth, green economy, low-emissions (or low-carbon) and climate-resilient development, climate compatible development, and sustainable development. The report has also considered sector specific programmes and policies that seek to advance economic, environmental and resource efficiency goals.
The assessment has shown that growing numbers of national and sub-national governments are capturing concrete economic, environmental, and social benefits from green growth in order to:

Enhance efficiency and productivity. Green, resource efficient technologies and practices can yield savings in resources and money and enhance competitiveness.
Underpin industrial policy and macroeconomic goals. Growing demand for green products and services offers opportunities for new industries and markets.
Improve quality of life and social equity progress. Reducing environmental degradation and conserving natural resources enhances the quality of life for all, especially the poor.

Green Growth in Practice – Lessons from Country Experiences has drawn from 60 case studies, from developing and developed countries from across Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America, Europe and Australasia. Some ‘gems’ from the report include an insight into Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy, where an analysis of net benefits was effective in moving the country from “interest” to “commitment”. It showed that a green growth pathway was beneficial to the achievement of Ethiopia’s overall development objectives.

In Kenya, simple spreadsheet tools were used to record and assess the key characteristics and potential of different low-carbon options. These tools enabled transparency and allowed for subsequent updates to be made easily. In Costa Rica, Environmental Service Certificates (CSA) attracted project financing from the private sector and were found to reduce transaction costs, increase investments, and provide greater flexibility for buyers.

Green Growth in Practice: Lessons from Country Experiences was designed from the outset to be a flexible and evidence-based assessment for use by many stakeholders. For an official from a Ministry of Environment, it could be just the tool to share with colleagues from different ministries and demonstrate how green growth planning and implementation could work in practice. For academics, it is a great starting point for future research on green growth and specific future research questions have been scoped out. For companies, it’s a great introduction to the opportunities of green growth finance and public-private collaboration opportunities.

Green Growth in Practice: Lessons from Country Experiences also has a set of accompanying case studies and an on line handbook, to be launched shortly (watch this space for details).

Why green growth matters
Green growth matters since science tells us that we need to move to a net zero carbon emissions world by mid-century; however, we still need economic growth, not least to meet the needs of millions still living in poverty. The concept of ‘business as usual’ can be considered redundant in view of the expected impacts of climate change, as well as the need for economic growth and poverty reduction. Learning the lessons on how to accelerate the necessary transition will be essential. Reflecting on current experience with green growth and from ‘first movers’, in this way, can help us make the decisions about how to achieve an affordable transition to a low carbon economy.

Green growth cannot afford to be an add on or even alternative to “brown” growth but must engage with the policy, financing, technology and other issues that work across entire economies. Green Growth in Practice: Lessons from Country Experiences is an essential contribution to improving our understanding of how to plan and manage the change process and create the conditions for integrated and inclusive green growth.

We invite you to read the report, share with your colleagues and stakeholders and please provide us and the GGBP team with your reflections and feedback. Please visit the GGBP website here to get involved in the debate: www.ggbp.org

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