23.11.2021

Factoring biodiversity and the 2030 Agenda into recovery

Photo: Binh Dang, GIZ

Two workshops on green economic recovery revealed that integrating sustainability aspects into economic COVID-19 relief packages yield higher return on investments while contributing to biodiversity conservation, climate mitigation, adaptation and a just transition. Related challenges and opportunities are often the similar regardless of regions.

About Green Economic Recovery

“We should all learn from each other how to integrate biodiversity and climate into economic recovery packages for the benefit of the whole society, including future generations.” concluded Dr. Christiane Paulus, Head of Department at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), during her opening statement for workshops on green economic recovery. While the COVID-19 pandemic has detrimental impacts globally, it also presents an opportunity to rebuild and transform our economies fundamentally towards sustainability. To this end governments all over the world have liberated funds to align economic recovery measures with attaining long-term climate change, biodiversity, and sustainability goals, thereby achieving a green economic recovery.

In order to achieve transformative change, the design of interventions needs to be rethought, as the current strategies rarely factor biodiversity, climate change and social justice into the planning. Without a holistic approach, green recovery measures are likely to fall short. On the other hand, if they are implemented successfully, their benefits are expected to go far beyond simply protecting the environment. Oftentimes there is a much higher return-on-investment compared to conventional economic stimulus programs. This aspect was also highlighted by Dr. Christiane Paulus: “A nature-positive economy can create up to 395 million new jobs globally especially in rural areas”.

Recovery initiatives can take a wide variety of forms and successful examples range from specific measures, such as the launch of pop-up bike lanes in South America which ensure pollution-free, space-saving and socially distant urban mobility, to targeted investments in sustainable waste management and circular economy in Ethiopia, Ghana or Kenya.

Two workshops on green economic recovery conducted by DUH and GIZ

In the context of the International Climate Initiative funded by the BMU, GIZ in cooperation with the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) conducted two virtual workshops with over 120 participants on the topic of green economic recovery in different regional contexts. Representatives from governments, international organizations and the private sector from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Europe exchanged their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of implementing green economic recovery measures.

Participants defined key aspects of a successful green economic recovery

During the workshops the participants drew the following key conclusions:

  • A fundamental green transformation towards a nature-positive economy and business practice does not only have a positive impact on the environment but also comes with great economic benefits.
  • Sustainable resource use is essential for retaining economic growth, protecting the climate, and preventing pandemics.
  • In decision-making the value of nature should be adequately considered and reflected in market prices, that include climate risks and environmental costs.
  • Removing subsidies leading to ecological disruptions, can redirect capital for sustainable and ecologically sound economic activities such as agroforestry or sustainable tourism
  • The strategic inclusion of vulnerable and disenfranchised groups such as indigenous peoples and local communities is essential to ensure that green economic recovery contributes to a socially just transition.
  • Moving towards a circular economy based on reducing waste, recycling and reusing is crucial to reduce the pressure on natural resources and the environment, in this regard plastics should be tackled as a matter of priority.

All in all, recovery programs represent a key opportunity to achieve a transition away from the business-as-usual approach that is leading us towards a climate crisis, biodiversity loss and future pandemics and is hampering the transformational change that is needed. The workshops showcased just how essential cooperation and the exchange of different perspectives is when applying or designing new interventions. The workshops also showed how the collaboration of IKI projects can join forces to share information and building the capacity to withstand the challenges of the future. The GIZ projects are looking forward and actively engaging with the countries and initiatives that participated in the workshop to encourage future cooperation opportunities.