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A Partnership For Action On Green Economy

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22 October 2013

What support is there to help build national green economy strategies that will generate new jobs and skills, promote clean technologies, and reduce environmental risks and poverty? In the first of a two-part series on making green economy happen, this week’s ‘Voices & Views’ focuses on a UN initiative, The Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), which responds to country-led demand for assistance in their efforts to make a just transition to green economy. 

A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Since the Rio+20 conference, where green economy was recognised as an important vehicle for delivering sustainable development, ensuring its uptake has become a key priority in the development cooperation agenda. 

PAGE came into being shortly after Rio+20, and is a community of practice, currently composed of four UN entities: the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) (link 3)and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).  It includes a number of civil sector organisations and, increasingly, a web of governments who are struggling with the ‘hows’ of incorporating sustainability into their operations. 

green_economy_3.jpg“PAGE responds to country-led demand for support and training on how to implement green economy policies,” said Steven Stone of the Economics and Trade Division of UNEP, last week while visiting Brussels.  “Countries will hear something on green economy, and ask us, for instance, “ How do we reposition ourselves with respect to commodity markets where prices are declining?”

“When we talk about green economy policies, we talk about policies which bring sustainability into the heart of economic and fiscal policy making,” he continued.  “It’s about taxes, and investments, and expenditure from the public sector that create jobs and wealth without depleting the natural resources of a country.”

Drawing on expertise of its various members, PAGE assists to build enabling conditions in participating countries by shifting investment and policies towards the creation of a new generation of assets, such as clean technologies, resource efficient infrastructure, well-functioning ecosystems, green skilled labour and good governance. 

Support is provided on a by-demand basis, and knowledge of the service has spread fast through word of mouth. 

The first country to join PAGE was Mongolia, which, with its mining-based economy, is growing at the rate of 15-20% per year in economic terms. “The Prime Minister was the first PAGE enthusiast,” said Stone. “He said, ‘Economic growth in activity is not enough; we also want to grow wealth over time, and that means diversifying over time and building skills for our economy’.” 

The second country on board was Peru, another country that wishes to diversify from its mining focus.

green_economy_2.jpgPAGE aims to reach 30 countries in a significant way in seven years, to see green economy principles embedded into economic framing and policy as the drivers of jobs and sustainability of growth, and, with a list of fifteen countries wanting to engage, PAGE is scaling up.  

In order to do this, it will need more partners. “There is potential for new partners; one of the key components of PAGE is capacity development and the way that we do this and build ownership is working with local centres of knowledge and excellence.” 

As a model to replicate as PAGE reaches more countries, Stone cited the case of Barbados. “We work with the University of the West Indies (UWI), which today has a Centre of Excellence on green economy that serves the whole Caribbean basin.  They have complete ownership, and it is cost effective.” 

Costa Rica and Bhutan are already engaged in the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity, and Stone sees traction for their example in many countries. “Vietnam, for example, has a fantastic green growth strategy,” he said. 

“Our job is to support the countries that want this.”

However, in his view, a basic change in perspective is required from many development players before green economy can happen . 

“It’s important for the development community to look at the environment not as a constraint to growth and wealth creation, but as a source of growth and wealth creation, and to manage it and nurture it,” he stressed. 

The second ‘Voices & Views’ in this series will look at the European Commission’s policy bed, targets and toolkits for facilitating green economy.

This collaborative piece was drafted with input from James Morris, with support from the Coordination Team.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission, or any other organisation.

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