Guiding the world towards a green global economy

Guiding the world towards a green global economy

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Date: 15th February 2013
Author: CDKN Global
Type: News
Organisation: UNDP
Country: Africa
Themes: Green growth

A collaboration between the UNDP International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum aims to show policy-makers how to make “green growth” a reality at local, regional and global levels. Michael MacLennan, of IPC-IG’s Rural and Sustainable Development Team, reports


Most studies about how best to stimulate “green growth” have focused on national processes. There have been relatively few analyses on how countries could coordinate efforts to promote sustainable economic growth at regional and global levels. Launching in August 2011, the Green Guide project fills this gap in our knowledge.

The Green Guide focuses on five themes, exploring how drivers of development relate to inputs (such as policies, partnerships, investments and financing), enablers (such as jobs, technology, energy and environmental security and innovation inclusiveness) and, ultimately, the conditions for sustainability and inclusive green growth. The themes are: mineral extraction development and investments in health (direct co-benefits); food security and education; water security and energy access; rural growth and development, anchored in natural resource management; plus climate resilience and social protection.

The Green Guide presents the findings of research undertaken by the Rural and Sustainable Development team of the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) in conjunction with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum. The project aimed to encourage dialogue and activity around green growth. The team examined the opportunities for sustainable and inclusive green growth within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Specifically, they examined how sub-regional blocs influenced the political and policy landscape that informs policies at national, regional and global levels.

Funded by CDKN, the project provided an important opportunity to carry out action-oriented research and explore some of the innately complex political issues that arise when re-calibrating economies for greener, more inclusive, future growth. The strategies presented in the Green Guide encourage policy convergence and coherence, while fostering collaboration among various existing bases of expertise.

SADC serves as a fascinating microcosm of the policy and political structures at play at regional and international levels, due to the diversity of its member states, their experiences, the structures of their economies and current human development achievements. The SADC states encompass post-conflict nations, emerging economies, small island developing states, and resource-dependent countries. The lessons learned from such studies within the SADC region are potentially applicable to other developing countries.

The research highlighted several shared challenges to achieving sustainable and inclusive green growth in the South, particularly in the SADC region. The full report will be published in mid-2013; a preview of the findings illustrates the following trends and solutions:

Unequal sharing of resources perpetuates structural inequalities that forestall inclusive and equitable growth by maintaining extreme poverty and preventing millions from maximising the potential use of those resources and related services. Weak governance has been shown to exacerbate instances of corruption and rent seeking, preventing the equitable and productive distribution of resources within nation states.

Meanwhile, the intensification of agricultural practices driven by population growth, and the need for more food, has led to the degradation of scarce tracts of land available for farming. The role of the agricultural sector in fostering rural growth and development is clear, as is its potential to reduce levels of resource consumption and advance an alternative development trajectory that incorporates climate management strategies.

Such challenges, while daunting, present some compelling opportunities for change. The SADC region has many inspiring examples upon which to build, particularly with regard to strengthening the social sustainability of development. These include Mozambique’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper on job creation in agriculture, which has lead to the reduction of poverty and vulnerability while promoting inclusive growth; Botswana’s Labour Intensive Rural Public Works Programme that prioritises women in supervisory roles; Zimbabwe’s Rural Transport Study, which identifies mechanisms to guarantee improvements that will benefit women; and Zambia’s Micro-Project Utility, which enhances participatory methods for women in decision-making processes related to building community assets.

The Green Guide offers parliamentarians a comprehensive body of evidence, including key questions and considerations, to help them make effective decisions and set their nations on paths towards more inclusive and greener growth. Most importantly, the Green Guide demonstrates ways of significantly reforming economies while mitigating social risks to ensure the participation of, and benefit-sharing among, poor and vulnerable members of society.

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