Partnerships for inclusive green economy are key to achieve the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda

Nairobi, 25 May 2016  – Growing evidence has emerged from countries about the economic, social and environmental benefits that a transition to a greener and more inclusive economy offers for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its partners are joining forces to deliver a more coordinated and effective response to member state initiatives designed to drive forward an inclusive green economy. Today, 65 countries have embarked on a path towards an inclusive green economy and related strategies. By transforming their economies into drivers of sustainability, these countries will be primed to take on the major challenges of the twenty-first century - from urbanization and resource scarcity to climate change and economic volatility.

The “Forum on Partnerships for Inclusive Green Economy: Joining up for Delivery on the 2030 Agenda”, which took place today during the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi, Kenya, centered on a high-level panel discussion on how new and innovative partnerships can deliver on the central challenge of the 2030 Agenda: creating the conditions for sustained and sustainable economic growth, with full employment. 


The event was organized by UNEP in partnership with the governments of Finland and the Republic of Korea, and co-branded by the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP), the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), the Ten Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP), and the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Programme).

Achieving the SDGs demands stronger, innovative and multi-stakeholder partnerships to mobilise and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources. Both the UN system and national governments have recognized that achieving the goals and targets for the 2030 Agenda will require overcoming sectoral and institutional boundaries, and embracing a more integrated and coherent approach. SDG 17, in particular, calls for innovative partnership to build synergies across silos of expertise.  PAGE, GGKP, PEI, 10YFP and UN-REDD Programme are just a few examples of UNEP and its partners joining forces to provide integrated support to member states to achieve the SDGs.

Bringing together the expertise of five UN agencies — UNEP, ILO, UNDP, UNIDO and UNITAR — and working closely with national governments, private sector and civil society, PAGE currently contributes to the shift of national economic structures in eight countries towards clean technologies, resource-efficient infrastructure, green skilled labour, good governance and well-functioning ecosystems. PAGE expects to assist an additional 12 countries, bringing the total up to 20 by 2020.

Over the last 10 years, PEI has successfully supported this work to contribute to poverty alleviation through strengthened management of the environment and natural resources and an inclusive green economy in 30 countries around the world.

The UN-REDD Programme, an inter-agency programme by UNEP, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), is working with more than 60 partner countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, but also to stimulate conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stock.

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the success of the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, the GGKP’s objectives of encouraging widespread collaboration, addressing knowledge and data gaps, and supporting practitioners and policymakers with the latest analysis and data, are more relevant and necessary than ever. Furthermore, the GGKP web platform draws together over 2,000 knowledge products from more than 300 leading organisations, making it the largest existing source of green growth knowledge.

As a backdrop to the discussion among policy makers and agency leaders in this field, the event also served as a forum for launching the UNEP’s new publication, “Uncovering Pathways to an Inclusive Green Economy:  A Summary for Leaders”, a synthesis report built on UNEP's earlier green economy work, which speaks to the multiple benefits - economic, health, security, social and environmental - that such an economic model can bring to humanity.

The forum featured the participation of Ministers of Environment and high-level representatives  from Burkina Faso, Finland, Republic of Korea, Peru, Mongolia and Nigeria, as well as the United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director, Achim Steiner; the Director for Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support of the United Nations Development Programme; Nik Sekhran, and the Director General, DG Environment for the European Commission, Daniel Calleja Crespo.

During the event, countries were offered a platform to inspire others by sharing their knowledge, best practices and lessons learned on breaking down silos and deploying inclusive green economy frameworks to develop integrated approaches to sustainable development.

Forum’s Key Messages

Key messages on Inclusive Green Economy:

An inclusive green economy is an opportunity to advance both sustainability and social equity as functions of a stable and prosperous economic system within the contours of a finite and fragile planet. It is a pathway towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, eradicating poverty while safeguarding the ecological thresholds, which underpin human health, well-being and development.

- Multiple benefits can stem from an integrated approach such as economic, health, security, social and environmental by maximizing, prioritizing and sequencing them to produce a healthy environment.

- Design Principles for an Inclusive Green Economy are based on sharing, circularity, collaboration, solidarity, resilience, opportunity and interdependence. To create an Inclusive Green Economy these elements must speak to socio-ecological and economy-wide transitions.

- Embracing a Circular and Sharing Economy can lead to the recovery, reuse, remanufacture and recycling of materials for resource efficient economies and a shift to sustainable consumption and production patterns.

- Partnerships and champions are essential drivers of change in order to replicate successes and scale up an Inclusive Green Economy. It is necessary to unite citizens, communities, businesses, financial institutions and government organizations to collaborate and drive the transition to an Inclusive Green Economy.

  • With rising population rates, expected to be 9.6 billion by 2050, and increasing incomes, these trends will only worsen unless a change in our current production and consumption choices occurs today. In terms of the increasing consumer base’s impact on resource use, the picture is increasingly bleak.[1] New studies note that in 20 years there will be 3 billion more people worldwide enjoying “middle class” income levels. As a result, in part, of accelerating worldwide use of natural resources, price volatility among essential commodities such as wheat and supply-side shocks affecting our natural resources have already been observed.
     
  • For the first time in world history, in 2025 the number of people in the consuming class will exceed the number still struggling to meet their most basic needs. The expanding consumer class or middle-income consumer today can be defined as those with incomes between $6,000 and $30,000 in PPP Terms.[2] Just 25 years ago, consumers within this group numbered 1 billion or one-fifth of the world population, specifically earning more than $10/day and able to make discretionary purchases of goods and services.[3] During the last two decades, we have witnessed a doubling in the number of middle-income consumers globally to 2.4 billion people.[4] Over 1 billion, or about half of this new middle-income class of consumers is located in developing countries -  as this growth trend continues in these new economies, the shift of the consumer class to the emerging markets will grow too.[5]
     
  • The shift to an inclusive green economy and greener growth rates occurs will intrinsically depend on a shift to Sustainable Consumption and Production patterns. Increasing consumer demand and spending have inevitable consequences on the depletion of our planet’s resources, especially in light of rising populations, rising incomes, and an increasing number of consumers with unsustainable lifestyles.[6]
     
  • In line with achieving the SDGs, shifting national policy agendas and commitments towards inclusive green economy and Sustainable Consumption and Production patterns will entail more innovation, delivering human and environmental health, and economic stability. Policies and actions for Sustainable Consumption and Production promote a more sustainable approach to demand-side management and consumption of our natural resources. Economies and business sectors that are early adopters of public policies and business strategies supporting Sustainable Consumption and Production and green economy principles will earn additional benefits from increased productivity and competitiveness over the medium-term.[7] This report offers many solutions in this regard to ensure that the global economy is shifted onto these pathways such as reallocation of capital towards green investments, better alignment of rules that govern financial markets with sustainable development, investments in skills and capacity, valuation of natural capital in national accounts, internalization of environmental and social externalities, mainstreaming resource efficiency, elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing, and creation of institutions for equitable access to- and sharing of benefits in an inclusive green economy, among others.
     
  • Sustainable Consumption and Production is included as a transversal and central element of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. Under the 10YFP, target 12.1 of the SDGs, policy support is being delivered through six current programmes of this framework, supporting the development of transversal policies on Sustainable Consumption and Production in close coordination with regional programmes such as the EU-funded SWITCH Asia, Med and Africa Green programmes. UNEP’s policy support for Sustainable Consumption and Production assists the achievement of targets in SDG 13 and 17.
     
  • Inclusive green economy and Sustainable Consumption and Production aim to influence both the supply and demand essentials of an economy from macro to micro levels, as well as understanding and in some cases influencing human behaviour. Policymaking in this complex context requires a collective and crosscutting approach. The transversality of these topics will ultimately need to be reflected in the associated national policies of countries. In this context, UNEP is strengthening public governance for the SDGs in countries such Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Lebanon, Mongolia, South Africa and more.
     


    [1] UNEP IRP Decoupling 2 Report also shows that the 20th century was a time of remarkable progress for human civilization. Driven by scientific and technological advances, the extraction of construction materials grew by a factor of 34, ores and minerals by a factor of 27, fossil fuels by a factor of 12, and biomass by a factor of 3.6.

    [2] Goldman Sachs Economic Research, 2008. Global economics paper, Issue No. 170. Online at: http://www.ryanallis.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/expandingmiddle.pdf

    [3] McKinsey & Co. “Winning the $30 trillion decathlon: Going for gold in emerging markets” August, 2012.  Online at: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/strategy/winning_the_30_trillion_decath...

    [4] McKinsey & Co. Ibid. Though IRP Decoupling 2 Places current number of Middle Income consumers at 1.8 billion today.

    [5] UNEP & IISD, 2014. “Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Targets and Indicators and the SDGs - UNEP Post-2015 Discussion Paper 2”, Online at: http://www.iisd.org/sites/default/files/publications/scp_targets_indicat....

    [6] UNEP, 2014. International Resource Panel Decoupling 2 report. Online at:

    http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel-old/Portals/24102/PDFs/IRP_DECOUPLING_...

    [7] UNEP & IISD, 2014, ibid