The Global Green Growth Institute partnered with Chatham House for a Conference on Green Growth on February 25 and 26 in London. The conference aimed to analyze the relationship between resource efficiency and environmental sustainability on the one hand, and economic competitiveness and resilience on the other. Additionally, there was intense focus on how to turn green growth theory into an operational reality.
Key Speakers at the conference included GGGI Director-General Richard Samans, the Swedish Environment Minister, Lena Ek, Director General, Environment at the European Commission, Karl Falkenberg and Rt Hon Simon Upton, Director of the Environment Directorate at the OECD.
The Conference also heard from governmental stakeholders from some of GGGI’s partner countries including Ato Newai, Chief Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Agus Sari, Director of the President of Indonesia’s task force on REDD+, Zou Ji, Deputy Director General of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation in China, and Enrique Lendo, Head of International Affairs of Mexico’s Environment Ministry.
Discussions during the first day highlighted the debate around the meaning of green growth –whether green growth means the absolute or relative decoupling of resource use from economic growth and whether there is already evidence of this decoupling. There was also substantial discussion around how green growth can become politically possible –the arguments and evidence needed in order to convince and enable governments to green their economies.
Participants heard perspectives from the private sector as well. Mark Stratton of Caterpillar, the industrial machinery giant, and Stef Kranend of Desso, the Dutch flooring company, discussed technologies and business models that have the potential to de-link growth and resource consumption through remanufacturing and creating a circular economy.
Day two of the conference was more specifically centered on financing the green economy. There was a noted level of skepticism about the scale of investment from the private sector in ‘green’ industries with claims that the current level of green investments is negligible compared to overall investment. Investor Chris Hohn, of the Children Investment Fund, discussed why financial investors still see green growth as a trade-off between short-term profits and long-term risks an what governments need to do to help change that attitude.
There was also focus specifically on challenges faced by developing countries in accessing public and private sources of finance and addressing the infrastructure investment gap. Participants heard from developing country speakers on, among other things, the role of government in setting the business and political framework and getting the right incentives for private investment. This is necessarily a staged process, with government playing a key role in the beginning in providing the framework and initial financing with which to draw in private investment.
The conference provided an excellent opportunity for GGGI to demonstrate its country program and research work to international stakeholders and to highlight GGGI’s contribution in the understanding of the nature of green growth.
For more information on the Chatham House Conference on Green Growth, including a full list of speakers as well as the agenda, please visit the Chatham House website.