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FEATURE: On a mission to scale up green growth

CDKN’s Ari Huhtala, Director of Policy and Programme, reports on the Global Green Growth Forum’s progress to get green growth concepts into the mainstream

The Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) was launched to convene governments, businesses, investors and organisations to act together through public-private partnerships (PPPs). There are a good number of best practices and examples of successful private sector involvement in green growth activities, but so far they cannot be considered transformative. The main aim of 3GF is to speed up and bring to scale inclusive green growth initiatives.

The highlight of the 3GF year is the high-level event, held in October, bringing together ministers, CEOs of major companies and heads of multilateral organisations. But that event is the tip of the iceberg and the rest of the year the secretariat is busy developing partnerships and cases for active promotion. As an important part of this process, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark organised a pre-event in Copenhagen last week in preparation for 3GF2013.

The overall theme of the meeting was “Improving resource efficiencies in the value chain”, in sync with one of the key themes of the recent Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) annual conference in Paris. (You can read about this in our story: Measuring green growth comes a step closer.) This year, there was an attempt to dig deeper into sectors such as energy, water and food to develop concrete examples and cases for promotion at the October high-level event.

The cross-cutting thematic day and sectoral PPP workshops provided a lively mix of presentations and discussions on compelling business models under resource constraints and challenges of financing. I was surprised to learn that some developing countries have shown more leadership in promoting green growth in their economies than developed countries. Interestingly, the progress made has not necessarily come about through specialised institutions, but via a process of mainstreaming. Often the tools used have included government budget resources (subsidies and feed-in tariffs, for example) rather than those promoted by financial institutions. 3GF’s partner countries (China, Kenya, Korea, Mexico and Qatar) all had interesting stories to tell.

The private sector is not homogenous; some companies are proactive while others are rather reactive. However, all expect their government’s policy framework to cover the three Ls: Loud (explicit and well-articulated), Long (predictable and stable) and Legal (anchored in clear legislation and regulations). Major momentum can be recorded in driving the green growth PPP agenda through the instrument of public procurement and through sub-national leaders. The work led by mayors through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of megacities committed to addressing climate change, is a case in point.

3GF’s main goal of getting the private sector fully on board must be achieved if a true transformation to inclusive green growth, or mainstreaming climate compatible development, is to materialise. To speed this up, the Forum fosters innovative, imaginative and unconventional PPPs, which include partnerships to agree on standards, new rules of the game and so on. All this is done with a view to going up in scale in the future.

Two years on from the 3GF’s foundation, the high-level meeting in Copenhagen in October can be a turning point in demonstrating that the PPP nexus can kick off transformational change, or it can be yet another event with lofty and eerily familiar declarations but no tangible outcomes. In the words of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Villy Søvndal: “It is time to go beyond talk and start to act”. The 3GF team is putting its best efforts and the goodwill of the Danish government into this process, but the final challenge lies with ministers and company leaders worldwide.

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