greeneconomyDo you know what green economy means in practice? Or what the approaches are to ensure successful green economy policies and programs?

The green economy and green growth concepts make an economic case that environmental sustainability and achieving economic objectives are compatible. A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcity, placing a bit more emphasis on finite environmental limits. Green growth means fostering economic growth and development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies. The definition clearly underscores that green policies do not need to slow economic growth.

Green growth according to the World Resources Institute is:

  • Equitable economic development that enables all people everywhere to live lives of dignity without irreparably damaging our natural resources for future generations and;
  • Increasing prosperity and jobs that also provides clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, open spaces and nature to enjoy, while forests and species are preserved, and climate change is prevented (with confidence that future generations will be able to enjoy the same).

Investment needed

Green economy is attracting the attention of policy makers, the private sector and other stakeholders from around the world. The number of countries developing and implementing green economy strategies is growing.

However, in many countries too little investment is supporting the transition to a green economy, and too much continues to be invested in high-carbon and resource-intensive, polluting economies. Transforming financial flows will address systemic issues. These include environmental externalities that remain unpriced and the rules and incentives governing financial markets that disadvantage long-term perspectives in decision-making and consumption and production behavior. The impacts of environmentally and socially beneficial investments are inadequately valued. Such market distortions can lead to a misallocation of capital and increase the potential risk to an economy and flow of ecosystem services.

Trends in material, energy and water use indicate significant scope to improve the efficiency of resource use. Transformation towards sustainable resource use could be achieved by high-level policy action to reform the incentive frameworks that govern resource use and investments. Among the structural policies that are important are those that address pricing mechanisms, nudge consumers, manufacturers and investors to make sustainable choices and enable and reward innovation of more efficient and less polluting technologies.

These policy reforms help to nurture and create bottom-up actions that increase demand for resource-productive products and services. Introducing policy reforms also means getting rid of inefficient policies. Smarter climate policies can for example help to:

  1. improve resource productivity;
  2. accelerate technological advance;
  3. close the infrastructure gap;
  4. give investors predictable policies;
  5. speed up renewable energy practices;
  6. re-think how to grow cities differently;
  7. assist how to plan to restore land.

Development Connect developed learning materials on green economy which are organized around key topics which contain easily digestible knowledge on a number of “green” issues. They might be used, for example, by resource persons providing an introduction to the green economy concept at a national workshop. Furthermore, the materials can be used at any non-profit learning event or serve to enrich one’s understanding about the green economy as a self-study tool.

The most crucial issues in the environmental domain that require investments in research revolve around understanding and monitoring national and local thresholds of planetary limits. Knowledge management, good practices in increasing energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste management, green buildings, industrial ecology, cybernetics, public transportation systems and technological innovations are emerging that can facilitate peer learning across countries, and this is an area where we can provide services too.

Livelihoods, Health and Resilience

An inclusive green economy can improve livelihood, health and resilience of the poor and ultimately contribute to reducing poverty and inequality. Poor and vulnerable groups are most affected by climate-related shocks. An inclusive green economy can reduce the impacts from weather changes and extreme weather events in rural and urban areas by strengthening the resilience of local communities and ecosystems, and can reduce conflict driven by natural resource scarcity and ecosystem degradation.

The majority of poor households depend on environmental assets for their incomes and livelihoods (e.g. rural households depend on farming, fishing, hunting and non-timber forest product collection). Ecosystem services and other non-marketed goods have been estimated to account for between 47% and 89% of the so called “GDP of the poor”. Policy and governance reforms can make environmental asset-based livelihoods more profitable as a viable path for moving out of poverty.

Health is closely linked to the quality of the environment, especially for poor women and children. Up to one-fifth of the total burden of disease in developing countries, and a large proportion of childhood deaths, are associated with environmental risk factors. An inclusive green economy can deliver better and more equitable health outcomes by significantly reducing these environmental risk factors in rural and urban areas by:

  • more secure access to water, improved waste management, and more fertile agricultural land to improve nutrition;
  • access to clean household energy to reduce exposure to indoor air pollution;
  • access to clean water to reduce exposure to water-related diseases;
  • improved environmental infrastructure for sanitation, drainage and waste collection;
  • “green” urban transport to reduce chronic disease and injuries and improve equity.

One of Development Connect’s director’s most recent experience includes a stint (2015-2016) as a senior advisor for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark in Ethiopia, being seconded at the Agricultural Transformation Agency, which reports to the Prime Minister’s Office, where she led work for the national Greening Agricultural Transformation in Ethiopia (GATE) Program and supported Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Facility and Partnership Program which objectives are firmly embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Rural “Organizational and Human Resources Capacity” and “Private Sector Development” are among the 30 key program areas identified within the 4 strategic pillar objectives of the Ethiopian National Transformation Plan GTP-II (2015-2020) for which she co-designed a multi-donor pool strategy, private sector sub-granting guidelines, a crosscutting mainstreaming policy (climate change, nutrition gender, monitoring & evaluation), and formulated activities to strengthen institutional linkages between key federal and regional level organizations and the (corporate) private sector, the agricultural extension, education and agricultural research systems and cooperatives; she also contributed to the design of a new national planning, monitoring evaluation and learning system, within the context of the green economy discourse.