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FEATURE: Positive proposals to make green growth inclusive

CDKN attended the Global Green Growth Week, held in Jeju, Republic of Korea, 5-9 September. This is the second of two blogs reporting from the event, by Ari Huhtala, CDKN’s Deputy CEO for Policy and Programmes, and Mairi Dupar, Global Public Affairs Coordinator.

The fourth Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) Annual Conference was held on 6-7 September 2016 on the island of Jeju in the Republic of Korea. The event was organised by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), located in Seoul. The hosts in Jeju were proud to emphasise that the island intends to become carbon-free by 2030.

The last GGKP Annual Meeting in Venice in 2015 had focussed on fiscal policy (see CDKN’s report here), and this year’s theme was “Transforming development through inclusive green growth”. The 2016 Conference highlighted the latest research and policy developments affecting pro-poor inclusive growth through plenary sessions and panel discussions led by noted academics, practitioners and policymakers.

How does green growth measure up?

Since the group last met, the world’s governments have pledged their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, which set the framework for eradicating poverty,  advancing equal access to opportunities, improving health, reducing material consumption and protecting the planet’s resources, including tackling climate change. The Paris climate agreement of December 2015 also marks a bold statement of purpose to act on climate change and keep average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

Debates among participants re-evaluated the robustness of ‘green growth’ as a concept, in the context of these ambitious new global frameworks.

Speakers also shared insights on their experience in trying to implement green growth policies and programmes: transposing a vision into action.  Several headline themes emerged:

The macroeconomic and fiscal policy approaches needed for green growth are becoming well recognised. They must be more widely implemented: Most Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require increased resource efficiency to be achieved. Material flows should be made as transparent as financial flows. The evidence is clear that greener growth is good for productivity but it requires well designed policies (e.g. carbon price, elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, innovation) and institutional reform. It won’t be easy, but it is inevitable.

Green growth policies need to ‘mind the (social) gap’: Green growth is not inherently inclusive. Social exclusion is corrosive and fuels crime and inequality. Green growth can only succeed if it is inclusive and engages the poorest and most vulnerable. (Our ODI colleagues Granoff et al. have produced a robust analysis of why policies must address poverty and social inclusion and redistribute wealth if the first SDG to ‘eradicate extreme poverty’ is to be achieved by 2030 while also putting the world on the pathway to zero emissions and a safe climate future.)

As Kevin Urama, Senior Advisor to the President of the African Development Bank, put it: “What we need is not tweaking but a fundamental rethinking of the equal share of economic, human and biophysical aspects of development”.

The World Bank’s Chief Economist for Sustainable Development, Marianne Fay, asserted that growth is necessary and cannot simply be disregarded; her view was that: “History has shown that it is not easy to redistribute a pie of fixed size. But it’s easier to redistribute a pie in ways that tackle climate change and provide local benefits.” So, how to make all this actually happen? How do we create societal demand for a fairer, inclusive economy?

CDKN’s key contribution to this year’s Conference was on the importance of integrating gender considerations to climate compatible (i.e. inclusive green) development processes. The related summary report “10 things to know: Gender equality and achieving climate goals” and Policy Briefs from case studies in India, Kenya and Peru can be found here.

Policy-makers need to think more creatively about how macroeconomic policies that incentivise ‘green’ behaviour can be coupled with other macroeconomic policy objectives. Has environmental economics too long been limited to debating how to penalise polluting behaviour and reward green behaviour? These concepts are sound but perhaps some out-of-the-box thinking is needed to unlock new green finance flows. One such proposal was to capture the multiple trillions of dollars in the illegal economy – hidden by tax evaders and cheats – and rechannel these to green investments – from Cesar Purisima, the former Philippines Finance Minister.

Governments and businesses should marry their finance reporting with reporting on social, economic and environmental indicators. The Conference suggested several reporting innovations at government and firm level, that have the potential to drive more integrated sustainable development: include social and economic indicators in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs – a part of the commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement) or companies could start measuring their social impact the same way they report on their financial performance. All this requires innovation, infrastructure and information, but particularly political will and policy credibility. International agreements provide platforms for implementation of national commitments, and national planning systems can make all interest groups and stakeholders come together.

Climate knowledge brokers are needed more than ever. These are the people and organisations that will interpret, sort, translate and integrate information about climate and sustainability threats and solutions and tailor it to the needs of different audiences – from government decision-makers and industry chiefs to consumers and voters. There are a range of knowledge problems. Actors with a stake in climate action may simply be unaware of climate trends and prospects and the range of climate compatible development solutions. Or they may be aware of the issues and completely overwhelmed by the volume of information, and may need guidance on how to find information that is most relevant to them. ‘Knowledge brokers’ can create bridges between the languages of science and climate-impacted communities and policy-makers; by deepening awareness and understanding, they can help galvanise new partnerships and action.



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