By Ingvild Solvang, GGGI Senior Gender and Social Development Specialist
As I am preparing to represent GGGI at a panel discussion during ADB’s Regional Seminar “Gender Equality in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management: Weathering an Uncertain Future” in Seoul, Republic of Korea, July 26-28, 2017, I am reminded once again how important it is that the shift towards a green economy doesn’t center its focus on economic and technological innovations alone. Social and political innovations are – I would argue – equally important. Why? Because our future depends on it! A growth model, which fails at “leaving no one behind”, and which continues to widen the gap between rich and poor, women and men, cannot ensure sustainable growth. Not only is increasing inequality a threat to political and social stability, it also undermines the future of markets upon which economic growth depends. Furthermore, facing more intense climate related disasters, the cost of vulnerability is high, and climate resilient economies include resilient communities and households.
When we talk about “inclusion”, we don’t talk about increased opportunities for “a few” marginalized groups. The poor – people failed by the economic system – in middle- and low-income countries makes up a large part of the population, often nearly half. And, when women lack representation in government and community decision-making, 50% of the population lacks direct influence on the political agenda.
This means that achieving inclusive green growth requires leadership and transformational policies. Stand-alone green programs and projects will not be enough. In collaboration with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), GGGI launched the Pro-poor, Inclusive Green Growth. Experience and a New Agenda in 2016. The publication outlines how the inclusive green growth agenda needs to address underlying structural barriers to inclusion, as outlined in the following outcomes:
- Inclusive Governance that allow for multi-stakeholder dialogue and diagnosis, and where the poor, and both women and men are ensured meaningful participation and influence in decision-making
- Strengthened livelihood through improved access to and control over assets and resources for the poor, women and men. Land rights are particularly important here, as are access to decent and dignified jobs. This is key to empowerment and resilience, and will also enable people to access formal financial services that support livelihood developments, and prevent people from falling further behind in the shift towards a green economy.
- Inclusive finance is pivotal, which involves a reform of financial markets to widen access to services for women and the poor. It also addresses the management of natural resource revenues to benefit the poor and future generations.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) platform is an important metrics for inclusive green growth. The SDGs support decision-making, which align multiple priorities, and provide confidence for decision makers in creating change.
In short, bringing this wider perspective into the green growth agenda is necessary for us to succeed. It will be challenging because it requires collaboration and coordination across sectors and harmonization between policies.
I am an optimist, nevertheless. GGGI’s rapidly increasing membership is indicative of a growing commitment to the Green Growth agenda. In 2016, all Green Growth policies supported by GGGI included references to poverty reduction and 89% to social inclusion. Positive impacts on people are at the center of the green growth agenda of our members. If Green Growth fails to deliver social co-benefits, it will rapidly loose political support. This is why ADB’s seminar on Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management is so important, and why we need to continue striving towards diversity in decision-making, inclusive climate finance and promotion of economic empowerment for women, men and the poor.