Building green growth capacity in support of sustainable growth

cropped group day 2By Daniel Muñoz-Smith, GGGI Communications Specialist 

Transitioning toward sustainable, inclusive growth is a key element in efforts to address potentially irreversible degradation to the natural environment, which threatens the social and economic development achieved across the globe in recent decades. Changing weather patterns and rising sea-levels as a result of climbing temperatures, as well as environmentally unsustainable growth models, pose serious risks to agriculture, food and water security, and the livelihoods of billions throughout the world, but especially in developing and emerging countries.

Accepting the realities of environmental degradation and climate change, and understanding that action is required in order to sustain development is a critical first step; one that has been made by the global community through proclamations and commitments to reduce climate change causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, develop low-carbon economies and pursue green growth that simultaneously advances economic growth, environmental sustainability, poverty reduction, and social inclusiveness.

Additional progress has been made in overcoming the hitherto conventional wisdom that addressing climate change and taking steps to cut GHGs was incompatible with economic growth. Recent research shows that taking action to avoid climate catastrophe can be made while still enabling strong economic growth.

Indeed, a recent report published jointly by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization shows net-gains in employment generation through investments in the clean energy industry rather than in the conventional, GHG emitting fossil fuel industry, Other studies by the New Climate Economy and the OECD highlight how innovative, climate friendly infrastructure investments can increase GDP, and that a global shift toward a clean energy economy can create millions of green jobs for workers around the world.
As a result, developing and emerging countries once weary of green investments due to perceived costs now see green investments as a viable strategy to address climate change and an opportunity to develop resource efficient, low carbon and socially inclusive economies.

This increasing enthusiasm for green growth, however, is tempered by the dearth of capacity within developing countries to mobilize resources, develop policies and augment investment strategies that will help deliver climate change actions and sustainable development.

Capacity Development: Know-how and Knowledge

What is needed, therefore, are useful knowledge and adequate capacity to support country efforts to transition to green growth. More importantly for the developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that face exceptional challenges, is the need to identify and learn from the unique green growth experiences of other developing countries.

It is in this context that GGGI is developing the Integrated Capacity Development (ICD) program, which organized the ‘South-South Cooperation for Green Development: Sharing CountrDSC_0272y Experiences’ workshop in the Republic of Korea, on April 28-29, 2015, in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The event gathered policymakers, government officials, and experts from international organizations to build green growth capacities. Participants shared their knowledge and experiences, and the lessons learned from implementing national green growth initiatives in order to help strengthen efforts to obtain buy-in from national decision-makers and stakeholders for a transition toward green growth.

GGGI’s ICD program aims to strengthen green growth in developing countries by building the institutional and human resource capacity of governments and their partner agencies to independently plan and implement green growth policies and projects. In support of this goal, the program will carry-out activities that engage decision makers and development stakeholders to participate in collaborative learning through customized trainings and the sharing of knowledge and experiences.

“Moving from a commitment to actual implementation of projects that achieve change can only occur if governments have the requisite green growth capacity and knowledge,” said Jason Lee, Head of the ICD program. “Equipping stakeholders with the tools and knowledge to successfully integrate sustainability into national development strategies will drive the efforts of the ICD program.”

In its collaborative work over the past five-years to support countries’ transition to a green growth pathway, GGGI has noted variance in partner capacities to deliver along the GGGI Value Chain and effectively conduct diagnostic activities, adequately assess impacts, develop sector and sub-sector specific plans, and design and implement financing strategies. The ICD program will, therefore, work to develop the capacity of GGGI partners designing and implementing green growth projects in developing and emerging countries around the world, with particular emphasis on LDCs.

The ICD program will strive to achieve these objects through four core programmatic components that uniquely focus on: 1) module development; 2) national capacity development; 3) regional capacity development; and 4) global capacity development component that involves strengthening South-South cooperation as an essential mechanism for building critical green growth capacity.

integration imageIn support of these target areas the ICD program will include a series of learning modules that address the Value Chain delivery capacity needs within GGGI’s thematic priority areas of Energy, Green Cities, Water, and Land use. The first three training modules focusing on green cities, project preparation and financing, and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) will be unveiled by the end of 2015.

Building capacity through partnership

Critical to building green growth capacity is ensuring the flow of relevant knowledge and experiences between stakeholders. The ICD program will work to facilitate such knowledge sharing by leveraging partnerships with key stakeholders and expanding the knowledge network of governments, organizations, and programs committed to enhancing capacity for inclusive and sustainable growth.

In addition to April’s GGGI-UNEP workshop, on June 8, GGGI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to work together on activities aimed at addressing green growth issues in developing countries by fostering climate resilient and low-emission development that will achieve stabilization of GHG concentration in the atmosphere. A key component of this agreement is capacity building, as GGGI and UNFCCC will cooperate through publications, workshops and conferences to share and disseminate respective knowledge and experience on supporting research reports, policies, institutional frameworks, and the planning and implementation of green growth strategies.

Looking ahead, GGGI’s ICD program will jointly host a policy dialogue titled “Delivering the Post-2015 Development Agenda in Asia: Regional Challenges and the Roles of Development Assistance” with the Asian Development Bank Institute and the Korea Environment Institute to build capacity to tackle climate change and enhance South-South cooperation in the Asia region.

The ICD program, while still in its early days, is demonstrating GGGI’s commitment to meeting the capacity needs of its program stakeholders, and working with a range of capable and experienced partners to share knowledge and foster South-South cooperation that will help promote green growth.