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  • Green transition
  • Green transition: In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs. The goals reflect the recognition that ending world poverty must align with strategies that build economic growth, but also address a range of various social needs including education, health, social protection, housing and job creation, while tackling environmental pollution and climate change. The SDGs, thus, also recognize and affirm the nexus between the ecological system and the economic system (SDG13). They also reinforce the need for a transition to a green economy, including a fundamental transformation toward more responsible and sustainable modes of production and consumption (SDG12), including the development of circular economies.

    In 2015, all multilateral development institutions agreed on the 2030 Agenda with the same set of objectives, called the SDGs. One year later, the UN also renewed the Habitat Agenda with a narrower scope; i.e., in the form of a “New Urban Agenda” (NUA). Following the 2030 Agenda, the specialized NUA enshrined such progressive commitments as operationalizing the social function of land (paras. 13 and 69), state support for social production of habitat (paras. 31 and 46), urban resilience and environmental sustainability (para. 52). Although the previous iterations of the human settlements-development policy addressed the urgency of climate change and promoted a multi-sectoral habitat approach to planning, implementation and governance that envisaged villages and cities as points on a human settlement continuum within a common ecosystem (para. 104), the NUA promoted the vision of the world’s inevitable “urban future” and did not interrogate the assumption of run-away population growth.

    The Green Economy Transition (GET) is a term synonymous with a new approach to international cooperation and assistance introduced by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to help economies where the EBRD works to build green, low carbon and resilient economies. This approach and the term itself reflect the cumulative thinking and lessons learned over the decade since the broader “green economy” was introduce into global development policy at Rio+20. It is a comprehensive approach to development in complex crises, and represents the timely forward thinking of the COVID-19 pandemic era, and is adopted along with the principle and vision of recovery and ‘building back better.’

    Through the new GET approach, the EBRD is increasing green financing to more than 50% of its annual business volume by 2025. It also aims to reach net annual GHG emissions reductions of at least 25 million tonnes over the current five-year period. Other banks and development funds have been driving green transition by developing and proffering new financial products that prioritize lending to green industries and encourage behavioral change among customers such as facilitating the purchase of solar panels and electric cars. These institutions have made credit available to support governments and industries to change, for example to reduce water pollution and reduce harmful emissions. In turn, most governments are seeking such financial products to encourage the formulation of green policy and implementation of projects carried out by public institutions and the private sector. In the face of climate change, banks are now pricing environmental risk into their expected returns, which encourages the financing of solutions with the greatest climate or environmental impact, thereby contributing to green transition.

    These processes also call for corresponding public scrutiny to monitor implementation in the public interest; combat corruption; avoid crippling public debt; ensure alignment with states’ human right obligations; watch for contradictions, including parallel investment in fossil fuel extraction and other harmful environmental practices such as agribusiness and chemical industries, among other potential hazards accompanying green transition.



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