In the past year, the European Commission has taken solid steps towards mainstreaming green economy into its development cooperation. Cristiana Pasca-Palmer, Head of the Environment, Climate Change, Natural Resources and Water Unit at EuropeAid, outlines the policy bed, targets and main toolkits available to make green economy happen.

Considerable efforts have been made to mainstream the principles of green economy into the European Commission’s development cooperation, with a strong policy basis, well defined entry points, newly developed tools and a series of activities to build awareness and develop partnerships.

“We are doing this because we realise have no choice - the challenges on the earth are enormous right now,” said Cristiana Pasca-Palmer last week in Brussels. “We have to act and work together to find solutions.” 

As part of a recent training video for colleagues about green economy, Pasca-Palmer provided an outline of what the EC is doing. She shares this information below.

What is the policy strategy of the Commission in international cooperation for green economy and the environmental quality of life?

Cristiana Pasca-Palmer: It is clear for the European Commission that we cannot deal with the challenge of eliminating poverty without at the same time addressing sustainability and tackling climate change. An inclusive green economy has become a key priority of our agenda at European and international level.



In the area of development cooperation, the European Commission has developed three main Communications to the European Council and Parliament dealing with green economy:

The first is ‘Rio+20: Towards the Green Economy and Better Governance’ (2011), where we highlight that “green economy – offers an effective way of promoting sustainable development, eradicating poverty and addressing emerging challenges and outstanding implementation gaps".

In the Communication ‘Increasing the Impact of EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change’  (2011), we stress the fact that the “EU development policy should promote a ‘green economy’ that can generate growth, create jobs and help reduce poverty by valuing and investing in natural capital'.

Finally, the recent Communication 'A Decent Life for All: Ending Poverty and Giving the World a Sustainable Future’ (2013) sets out the Commission views on Post 2015 and Sustainable Development Goals and states that green economy should be inclusive – benefits should be shared among all the population.

In addition, our strategy paper ENRTP (Environment and Natural Resources Thematic Programme) 2011-2013 identifies Green Economy and mainstreaming as key priorities for EU cooperation. 

What are the Commission’s objectives relating to green economy, and what is the timeline for their implementation?

We have clear objectives to achieve by 2020. We will engage at least 20% of our EU budget to climate related initiatives. This is a legally binding decision of the European Commission. This represents around a threefold increase from the current share of around 6-8%. 


To achieve this increase, climate mitigation and adaptation actions will be ‘mainstreamed’ into all the major EU spending programmes, including regional development, energy, transport, research and innovation and the Common Agricultural Policy.

Specifically, within our new thematic budget line for development cooperation – called the Global Public Goods and Challenges – we aim at developing 50% of our activities relevant to environment and climate change. This means that besides the thematic line on environmental programme, we will mainstream climate change and environment in the other thematic budget  lines.

What tools does the Commission have for this, and what tools are being developed?

The Commission has developed a number of tools to support mainstreaming and transformation to a green economy. For example, we have three training courses that we deliver both in Brussels and in EU Delegations: one on introduction to green economy, one on mainstreaming climate change and environment into development cooperation and one on country- led mainstreaming. 

The training course on mainstreaming climate change and environment in development cooperation aims at providing tools and procedures to integrate environment and climate change in our programmes and projects and identify entry points for green economy opportunities. The training course on country-led mainstreaming provides colleagues with tools for integrating environment and climate change in national development planning and budgetary processes. 

We are going also to review the current guidelines for integration of environment and climate change into development cooperation. 

We aim to develop a Mainstreaming Toolbox, which will be more comprehensive and will focus on the mainstreaming of climate change, biodiversity and environment providing tools and case studies that will help our cooperation to effectively integrate these issues and identify opportunities for a greener economy. 

The Mainstreaming Toolbox will be composed of three parts:

  1. Guidelines for integration of environment, climate change and biodiversity in development cooperation
  2. Sectoral guidance notes addressing specific entry points for sectors of our cooperation (private sector, health, governance etc.)
  3. Case studies on climate change, environment, biodiversity and green economy. 

The Mainstreaming toolbox will be a strategic instrument to achieve the objective of a 20% climate relevant EU budget and 50% environment and climate change relevance in the Global Public Goods and Challenges budget line. 

It will serve colleagues in delegations, thematic and geographical unit to identify the entry points for mainstreaming and the tools for integrate environment, climate change and biodiversity. It will also provide guidance to upgrade the programmes towards green economy.

This collaborative piece was drafted with input from Laura Giappichelli, with support from the Coordination Team.
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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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