Green growth is becoming an attractive opportunity for countries around the world to achieve poverty reduction, environmental protection, resource efficiency and economic growth in an integrated way. Green growth strategies generate policies and programs that deliver these goals simultaneously. They accelerate investment in resource efficient technologies and new industries, while managing costs and risks to domestic taxpayers, businesses, communities and consumers.
The Future We Want, the outcome of the Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit, recognizes the vital role for green growth strategies, which “should contribute to eradicating poverty as well as sustained economic growth, enhancing social inclusion, improving human welfare and creating opportunities for employment and decent work for all, while maintaining the healthy functioning of the earth’s ecosystems” (UNCSD, 2012).
Green growth strategies are, in part, a response to the serious risk now posed to the global economy by increasing pressure on the environment. Resource scarcity is increasing and water, land, biodiversity, and other natural resources have become degraded. Therefore, transforming economic activity to improve efficiency and management of natural resources is vital to the stability and sustainability of the future economy – a green economy. Reducing environmental liabilities and risks is critical as well. Pollution of the air, water and land, biodiversity losses, and climate-related hazards can endanger economic and social development if not proactively addressed. But this is not the only reason why green growth strategies are becoming increasingly popular among governments and reaching a new stage of maturity – green growth can unlock substantial economic, social and environmental benefits for societies and enable synergies between them.
While further evaluation of long-term impacts is required, there is emerging evidence that green growth works. Growing numbers of national and subnational governments in all regions are achieving results in implementing plans, policies, and programs that accelerate private sector green investment and changes in consumer behavior. These programs are most effective where they respond to trade-offs associated with green growth and invest in initiatives to mitigate the risks and costs of a transition to green development.
Some prominent examples of government leadership on green growth are presented in Box A. Many of these and other countries have carried forward their visions into implementation programs that are achieving concrete results, while others are still at the early stages that have not yet realized impacts.
Chile launched the National Green Growth Strategy in December 2013 outlining a set of actions over the short, medium, and long term (2014-2022). Actions include implementing environmental management instruments, promoting the market for environmental goods and services, and monitoring and measuring progress (Government of Chile, 2013).
China has committed to green growth in its 12th Five Year Plan. Actions include investing in natural resource management, with the aim of creating one million new forestry jobs and reducing rural poverty (OECD, 2013).
Germany’s green growth policies have been an important engine for environmental innovation, enabling the development of an internationally competitive environmental goods and services sector particularly focused on renewable energy.
Korea has adopted a green growth strategy to drive economic competitiveness through development and use of advanced technologies. The government is investing in innovation and deployment programs for 27 priority technologies guided by a Green Technology Roadmap with the goal of becoming the world’s 7th largest economy by 2020 (Young et al., 2013) and a more recent emphasis on a ‘creative economy’ as the vision for green growth.
Mozambique launched the Green Economy Roadmap at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, setting out its vision to become an inclusive, middle income county by 2030. In October 2013 the government approved the Plan of Action for 2013/2014 laying out the actions over the period of one year on the road to a green economy and is in process of linking the Roadmap to the long-term National Development Strategy 2015-2035 (WWF, 2013).
Rwanda released the Green Growth and Climate Resilience National Strategy for Climate Change and Low Carbon Development in October 2011. It aims to be a developed climate-resilient, low carbon economy by 2050, through the achievement of three key strategic objectives: energy security and a low carbon energy supply; sustainable land use and water resource management; and social protection and disaster risk reduction (Republic of Rwanda, 2011).