On the road to Rio+20: towards a Low Carbon Green Growth

Monday, May 28 saw the launch of the publication “Low Carbon Green Growth (LCGG) Roadmap for Asia and the Pacific: Tuning resource constraints and the climate crisis into economic growth.” The e-publication was created and launched by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), with financial support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

With Rio +20 around the corner, ESCAP along with UNCDF, have developed their contributions to the establishment of Low Carbon Green Growth. Within Rio+20 UNCDF Asia-Pacific will present its global programmes LoCAL and CleanStart. The globally minded projects address the growing challenge of Climate Change adaptation and mitigation in Least Developed Countries. On the one hand the LoCAL facility sets out an innovative model of sub-national climate change adaptation financing; on the other, CleanStart fosters the development and adoption of clean energy solutions through microfinance products and services.

Both LoCAL and CleanStart present themselves as useful tools in the development of LCGG Roadmap and significantly contribute to paving the way in terms of policy and advocacy for sustainable development. Rae Kwon Chung, Director of the ESCAP Environment and Development Division presented highlights from the 220 page publication, primarily comprised of five tracks in which policy makers in the region are encouraged to jumpstart a Green Growth agenda, with hopes of having a viable Green Economy.

The tracks are as follows:

  1. Improving Quality of Growth and Maximizing Net Growth;
  2. Changing the Invisible Structure of the Economy: Closing the Gap Between Economic and Ecological Efficiencies;
  3. Changing the Visible Structure of the Economy: Planning and Designing Eco-Efficient Infrastructure;
  4. Turning Green Into a Business Opportunity;
  5. Formulating and Implementing Low-Carbon Development Strategies.

Supported by 63 fact sheets, 51 case studies and 8 policy papers, the extensive publication aims to serve member state policy makers in re-positioning growth agendas, towards an environmentally and economically sustainable future.

Chung explicitly mentioned, “The Asia-Pacific has to change the way it grows.” He continued stating: “Governments are struggling and looking for ways to incorporate LCGG concepts into their policy agendas. Green Growth principles were sponsored and endorsed by the G20 and were originally formulated as a measure to counteract the 2008 financial crisis, yet these principles continue to persist in development.“ Chung: “Green Growth is defined in the roadmap as one of the many strategies to operationalize sustainable development. Many people misunderstand stating that Green Growth might replace sustainable development however Green Growth is just a process, with a primary goal of creating a functioning Green Economy.”

Chung’s presentation began to express complementary subject matter with UNCDF’s LoCAL project. The roadmap wraps up with a focus on means of implementation citing the aforementioned five policy tracks. Financing in terms of public sector financing, carbon financial mechanisms and overseas development assistance (ODA) were cited in the document. LoCAL’s Performance-based Climate Resilience Grant framework could be construed as a potential avenue to implement the policy tracks.

Green Growth in the developing country (DC) context has been a contentious issue among international development, state and private sector actors. During the Q&A period, questions were asked as to the inherent capacity and overall responsibility of DCs in terms of Green Growth. These points are of particular interest in relation to LoCAL, which is currently active in the LDC context. In relation to Green Growth in the DC and LDC context, Chung addressed this point stating: “Green Growth is not only an ecological strategy; it is a viable economic strategy as well. Many people question Green Growth, stating it doesn’t respect poverty alleviation and continues to be a burden on the poor. I disagree, Green Growth is a strategy that promotes healthy economic growth which in fact can reduce poverty.”

The publication launch comes at an opportune time with Rio +20 around the corner. Chung stated his interest in hearing feedback about the LCGG Roadmap from the international delegations in attendance.