WBCSD contributes to study on "Building an Inclusive Green Economy for All"

Geneva, July 10, 2012 – A transition to a green economy could lift millions of people out of poverty and transform the livelihoods of many of the 1.3 billion people earning just a US$1.25 a day around the world, but only when supported by strong policies and public- and private-sector investments.

These are the findings of a new report, Building an Inclusive Green Economy for All, launched at last month’s Rio+20 conference by the Poverty-Environment Partnership (PEP), a network of bilateral aid agencies, development banks, UN agencies and international NGOs. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the only business organization involved in PEP, provided its perspectives on the concept of green economy and poverty reduction, including the accompanying policy recommendations. WBCSD President Peter Bakker co-signed signed the foreword to the report along with the heads of the other partner organizations.  

Scaling-up current examples of the green economy in action – particularly in developing countries – has the potential to deliver a ‘triple bottom line’ of job-creating economic growth, environmental sustainability and social inclusion, says the report. But targeted investments and governance reforms are needed to overcome current barriers that are preventing many poor communities from fully benefiting from a green economy.

The report argues that large numbers of least developed countries and poor regions of middle income countries are actually richly endowed with the natural resources needed to underpin a green economy transition as a pathway  towards realizing sustainable development. It cites many strong examples of developing countries that are already successfully shifting to a green economy. For example, Ethiopia is developing six wind energy projects and a geothermal project, which will increase the country’s capacity by over 1,000 megawatts. In Uganda, the promotion of organic agriculture is helping tens of thousands of farmers to earn up to 300 percent more from certified pineapple, ginger, vanilla and other exports.

The report also underlines that the private sector, including large multinationals and small and medium-sized enterprises, along with non-governmental organizations, have a key enabling role too. The work of WBCSD members Natura, Novozymes, and Unilever is cited to exemplify new business models for an inclusive green economy.

Building an Inclusive Green Economy for All also highlights five critical building blocks towards an inclusive green economy. These can maximize the benefits for the poor of a green economy, and foster a shared policy agenda between developing country governments, developed country partners and other stakeholders.

  • National economic and social policies: Fiscal policies, tax regimes, and ‘green’ social protection policies and programs can strengthen a pro-poor transition;
  • Local rights and capacities: Ensuring poor people have rights and tenure over their natural resources backed by the means and the incentives to sustainably manage and benefit from them;
  • Inclusive green markets: New business models are needed to build and expand the poor’s access to inclusive markets and supply chains for green products and services, together with access to micro-credit and business development services for small and medium-scale enterprises;
  • Harmonized international policies and support: Higher-income countries need to provide coherent aid, trade and other policies to enable low-income countries to succeed in a green economy transition; and
  • New metrics for measuring progress: Going beyond the narrowness of GDP to a broader indicator of economic, social and environmental progress and human well-being.

The publication has been prepared by staff from Asian Development Bank, Australia (AusAid); Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Germany’s GIZ; the International Institute for Environment and Development; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; the UN Development Programme; the UN Environment Programme; the World Bank; the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute.

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