• Lead-organizer: World Bank
  • 13:00 - 14:30
  • Date: 21 Jun 2012
  • Room: T-2

Inclusive Green Growth: Challenges and Opportunities on the Pathway to Sustainable Development

Organizing partners

City of Rio de Janeiro (TBC)


Over the last 20 years economic growth has lifted more than 660 million people out of poverty and raised the income levels of millions more, but growth has too often come at the expense of the environment. Environmental damages are reaching a scale at which they are beginning to threaten growth prospects and progress made on social welfare. Moreover, despite the gains from growth, 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity, 2.6 billion have no access to sanitation, and 900 million lack safe, clean drinking water. In other words, growth has not been inclusive enough.

What we need, therefore, is growth that growth that is both environmentally sustainable and meets the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable?in other words, inclusive green growth. Inclusive green growth is the pathway to sustainable development, one that reconciles the urgent need for rapid growth with the imperative of avoiding lock-in to unsustainable growth patterns and irreversible environmental damages. Inclusive green growth is not anti-growth, nor is it slower growth; rather, it represents an incremental change in how we manage economies.

Detailed programme

Together with the City of Rio de Janeiro (TBC), the World Bank will convene an high-level panel representing national and sub-national governments, international organizations, and the private sector for a moderated discussion of the key challenges and opportunities posed by the pursuit of greener and more inclusive growth. They will explore the opportunities and challenges posed by the need for inclusive green growth across a number of ?building blocks,? together which comprise a holistic approach to sustainable development: an economic and policy framework for inclusive green growth and its operationalization across city-, land-, and sea-scapes, as well as the mainstreaming of natural capital accounting as an indispensable tool for measuring progress toward sustainability. The event will also highlight the critical need for innovative tools to finance green investments.

Major Themes
The growth of cities is a defining feature of the 21st century. Between 2000 and 2030, the entire built-up urban area in developing countries will triple, and cities will welcome at least another 1 billion residents by mid century. Urbanization has enabled economic growth and innovation across all regions, currently accounting for three-quarters of global economic production. At the same time, urbanization has also contributed to severe environmental and socioeconomic challenges, including climate change, pollution, congestion, and the rapid growth of slums. Inclusive green growth in the urban-scape entails building smarter, more resilient cities that are serviced by efficient transport, energy, and water systems.

Land is one of the most critical resources for the rural poor dependent on farming for their livelihoods. Today, about 2 million hectares of rain-fed and irrigated agricultural lands are lost to production every year, in part due to severe land degradation. Poor land quality compromises farm incomes, resulting in ongoing poverty and a lack of resources to invest in increasing land and labor productivity, condemning farmers to repeat the cycle of often worsening degradation. Inclusive green growth across land-scapes requires better land, environmentally friendly and climate-resilient agricultural practices, and smarter land-use planning.

The link between healthy oceans and economic well-being is clear. If properly cared for, oceans present huge opportunities for jobs, food security, and economic activity. Around 350 million jobs globally are linked to the oceans through fishing, aquaculture, coastal and marine tourism, and research. And 15 percent of all protein consumed is supplied ? without any carbon or freshwater footprint ? by oceans. Inclusive green growth in the sea-scape requires better governance frameworks for oceans that promotes rights-based fisheries and aquaculture alternatives, more broadly protects fragile ecosystems, and stemming the flow of harmful pollutants from upstream.

Natural capital accounting
Conventional measures of growth like GDP cannot tell us whether growth is sustainable because they ignore many of our underlying assets, especially natural capital. Natural capital accounting aims to measure all assets that provide income to households, firms, and governments. It not only accounts for well-understood resources like land, forests, minerals, and energy, but also valuates non-marketized assets inherent to ecosystems and the services they provide. Natural capital accounting accounting is an indispensable tool for understanding progress toward inclusive green growth.

Financing instruments
Making growth greener and more inclusive, while affordable, does require higher upfront investments. These costs will generally be recouped later, so the financing constraint has to be understood primarily as an issue of access to capital. Given the scarcity of fiscal resources, governments must work urgently to create the conditions necessary for more private sector involvement in green investment. Private-public partnerships are crucial, as is increasing access to financing for small and medium enterprises, without which inclusive green growth cannot be achieved.
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