Best Practice Report


Establishing vision, baselines, and targets

Establishing vision, baselines, and targets

This chapter focuses on how governments are establishing high-level visions for green growth, supported by associated targets and baselines.

A vision is a long-term and shared objective to guide policy making. The main focus of a vision for green growth is to articulate a cross-government objective in order to provide a common purpose for national, sub-national, and regional targets and action. These targets are often expressed in terms of deviation from a ‘business-as-usual (BAU)’ baseline.
In this chapter we address the questions:
What processes and approaches have proven useful when creating a high-level vision for green growth and for establishing and using baselines and targets?

Key messages are:


Establish a vision for long-term green growth driven by high level political leadership and supported through consensus building with stakeholder group.

  • Green growth strategies will have a higher chance of success when they focus on clear, specific domestic priorities, strategic sectors and socio-economic issues and are integrated with wider economic development visions. Championing by the political leadership, in many cases the country’s President or Prime minister has often been critical in developing a green growth vision across government.
  • It is vital that the green growth vision is established beyond the environment ministry, and is shared by powerful ministries including planning, finance, and trade and industry as well as key sector ministries such as energy, transport, and agriculture.


Establish targets aligned with domestic priorities, such as economic output, poverty reduction, employment, emission reduction, industrial growth, and natural resource protection.

  • Targets should be chosen in a way that aligns with the country context. Overarching targets such as national emission reductions are useful for measuring the progress and success of the green growth strategy. But setting a high-level target which is of no immediate consequence to policy makers and stakeholders should be avoided. Individual and specific targets are needed to operationalize policies and assess progress in relation to priority technologies and sectors.
  • Combining a long-term target to reflect the general goal, with short-term targets to guide concrete action has been a successful approach.


Balance purpose and practical considerations in establishing the basis for developing and communicating baselines.

  • The definition and scope of a baseline should respond to functional need, including the policy targets and timeframes in question. However, data availability can be a constraint.
  • Baseline choices directly influence the effective ambition of any particular relative targets. Transparency about assumptions can reduce potential mistrust of politically motivated baseline adjustments.
  • The purpose of a baseline is to serve as a reference to which a green growth pathway is compared. A baseline requires making many plausible assumptions that can contribute to understanding a country’s green growth pathway, even if sometimes those assumptions are greatly simplified. Many tools are available for developing baselines, but even a simple, transparent approach can be fit for purpose. Choose complex models only if the policy questions require so and data and resources are available.
  • Aim for transparency and broad stakeholder engagement in the construction of the baseline, to improve credibility and support future updating and replication.  
Figure 1:
Vision, baselines and targets as part of green