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Launch of GGGI’s first Green Growth Index: Measuring Green Growth Globally

On October 23, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) officially launched its Green Growth Index, the first benchmarked composite index designed to track green growth performance in four dimensions of green growth. The Index is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement, and Aichi biodiversity targets, and it is the first index to benchmark green growth performance against the targets of these international agreements.

Measuring green growth in 115 countries globally, the Index allows governments to align their pathway to green growth with achieving the SDGs and national climate and biodiversity goals. GGGI developed this first global Green Growth Index to show how countries perform in using and protecting natural resources for a sustainable future and in creating economic opportunities for an inclusive society.

One of the key findings of this Index is that, at a global level, much more needs to be done for countries to achieve high green growth performance. There are significant opportunities to improve performance and make the world a greener place.

The Green Growth Index offers countries a chance to see how they are performing against common targets for green growth. These countries are all on equal footing—scored based on a set of publicly available statistics from international sources.

“What is really interesting and important about GGGI’s Green Growth Index is that it gives countries a chance to easily track how well they are doing in becoming green,” said Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of GGGI. “These kinds of performance measures are quite valuable as organizations like GGGI work to help countries strengthen their policies and investments in areas where they need the most help.”

Out of the 115 countries ranked in this first edition of the Index, 54 countries perform only moderately and only 38 countries, or less than 25% of the total, are close to reaching sustainability targets for green growth.

At a regional level, Europe leads the world in green growth, while the Africa region, whose countries score moderate to low in the index, has the most opportunities for improving its green growth performance.

Out of the 23 countries scoring high in the 2019 Green Growth Index, Denmark and Sweden rank highest, which both score about 75. But these top scores are still 25 points below the green growth target of 100.

Actions are most critical for the dimension of “green economic opportunities,” where performance is lowest globally. This dimension looks at performance in green investment, trade, employment, and innovation.

The framework, representing 36 green growth indicators, was built on robust concepts, guided by multidisciplinary experts, and developed in consultation with policymakers.

Twenty-one indicators of the Green Growth Index are directly derived from the SDGs. The remaining 15, while not SDG indicators, contribute to achieving the SDGs, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Aichi biodiversity targets.

“The policymakers who participated in the design process have created ownership of the Green Growth Index by influencing the choice of green growth indicators, the use of SDGs and other global sustainability targets to benchmark the Index, and the presentation of ranks by region rather than globally.”, says Dr. Lilibeth Acosta-Michlik, the main developer behind the Index and program manager for Green Growth Performance Measurement at GGGI.

The development of the Index followed an inclusive and collaborative process. More than 300 experts representing different organizations from various regions around the world participated in the review of the green growth framework for the Index. Expert feedback was assessed during three phases of Index development since 2017. This feedback was collected through workshops, expert group meetings, consultations, and an online survey. GGGI will continue to work with these international experts to further improve the Index framework and highlight data gaps in green growth indicators.

The Republic of Korea has a “moderate” performance score of 54.31 in the 2019 Green Growth Index, and is ranked sixth in the Asia region. It performs strongly for indicators relating to access to basic services, social equity, share of forest to total area, water quality, share of green employment in manufacturing sector, and green investment. However, the country scores low in the share of renewables to final energy consumption, water use efficiency, and share of organic agriculture relative to total agricultural area.

GGGI is also currently collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme, the African Development Bank, and others to explore expanded applications of the Index.