Achieving poverty reduction and social inclusion through green growth


By Daniel Muñoz-Smith, GGGI Communications Specialist 

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) build upon the global community’s effort to address the world’s most pressing development challenges. The 17 SDGs aim to end poverty, ensure prosperity for all, and protect the planet.

The alignment of economic and social development with environmental sustainability is a key theme of the SDGs, as the effects of rising temperatures, increasingly frequent natural disasters, and a growing world population have made it clear that sustainable growth is not possible without protection to the environment.

In this context, a new model of green growth is envisioned; one that is socially inclusive, addresses poverty and is environmentally sustainable. For green growth to successfully achieve its goals all stakeholders must be included, particularly marginalized groups and peoples living in poverty such as indigenous peoples, women, and the urban and rural poor.

Despite the best intentions of national governments, regional bodies, and international organizations the benefits of green growth still do not always trickle down to the most marginalized groups. Further, what is at times overlooked is the impact – or lack thereof – of development efforts on vulnerable and excluded groups that are most reliant on scarce natural resources, and are commonly at higher risk to environmental threats.

To help ensure that development gains are not undone and that the benefits of green growth extend to even the most marginalized groups, adequate safeguards and poverty reduction and social inclusion (PR&SI) objectives must be included within environmentally sustainable growth frameworks.

Identifying potential negative environmental risks and social impacts in green growth projects, and mitigating them with safeguards are critical first steps. Equally important are projects designed to ensure that positive project benefits extend to the communities and peoples within the scope of the development. Therefore, engaging all stakeholders – especially vulnerable peoples – in green growth planning from the very beginning, and leveraging opportunities that result in poverty reduction, is necessary to deliver inclusive, sustainable green growth.

Rubavu3Delivering pro-poor and socially inclusive green growth

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has prioritized poverty reduction and social inclusion in the delivery of its green growth initiatives. GGGI’s mission is to support countries shift toward a model of green growth that simultaneously achieves poverty reduction, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and economic growth.

GGGI has implemented environmental and social safeguards principles throughout the organization with the aim of avoiding adverse impacts to people and the environment, minimizing, mitigating, and managing adverse impacts where avoidance is not possible, and strengthening the capacities of GGGI and partner countries for managing social and environmental risks. Further, GGGI is working to mainstream poverty reduction and social inclusion (PR&SI) objectives utilizing analytical tools that aim to identity potential social inclusion challenges and poverty reduction opportunities at the earliest stage of green growth projects.

The organization’s Knowledge Solutions Division is working to better integrate PR&SI considerations into the green growth potential assessments used to help determine the prospective scope of GGGI engagements on the ground. GGGI’s investment services initiatives are also applying environmental and social safeguards into processes to develop bankable green investment projects. Moreover, to ensure that benefits of green growth actions reach women, GGGI is developing a comprehensive gender strategy that aims to strengthen women’s participation in green growth planning and address women’s equitable access and control of resources during implementation.

Activities on the ground

At the in-country level, GGGI is making concerted efforts to mainstream PR&SI in the Country Planning Frameworks that are produced with countries to align green growth projects with national development goals.


Photo courtesy of Camilo Ortega

In Colombia, PR&SI objectives have been integrated into the Amazon Vision project, which is a Government of Colombia initiative supported by GGGI that aims to help Colombia achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. A pay-for-performance fund that has been set-up to tackle deforestation drivers was developed in consultation with indigenous peoples and designed to support indigenous livelihoods and gender equality.

In Mongolia, where GGGI is supporting the government’s effort to diversify the national energy mix, poverty reduction and social inclusion considerations have been used to better assess the potential impact of energy planning on low-income households. As a result, the Government of Mongolia is exploring how it can implement an alternative heating-systems plan that will benefit low-income and peri-urban ger settlements.

GGGI’s poverty reduction and social inclusion work in the Philippines as part of the Ecotown project has helped develop seaweed farming to supplement the incomes of local fishermen that have lost traditional fishing grounds due to climate change. Scaling-up the Ecotown project from the municipality of San Vicente to the Province of Palawan Island is also being undertaken with a committed focus on indigenous and gender inclusion.

fishingMeanwhile, in Rwanda where GGGI is supporting the government to develop climate resilient green cities, PR&SI objectives are being referenced to ensure that urban planning takes into account gender-sensitivities, and that job creation strategies coincide with urbanization.

PR&SI objective have also been integrated into GGGI programs inEthiopia, and will be emphasized as the organization continues to deliver green growth projects in Cambodia and Vietnam, and expand its scope of work in Least Developed Countries.

In 2016, as the global community sets forth to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, GGGI will begin to deliver green growth assessments and projects in Nepal, Senegal, and Uganda. Ensuring that the most marginalized groups and vulnerable peoples are included in this roll-out, and that environmentally sustainable and poverty reduction results are delivered will continue to be central to GGGI’s work.