Green and just COVID-19 recoveries in developing countries

Green and just COVID-19 recoveries in developing countries

5 June 2020. On World Environment Day, a coalition of international organizations released a high-profile report (4 pages) outlining the principles and priorities of a green, just and transformative COVID-19 recovery: 

COVID-19: Ten Priority Options for a Just, Green and Transformative Recovery

Partners for Inclusive Green Economy is an initiative involving UN Environment, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Poverty-Environment Action for SDGs (PEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the United Nations Partnership for Action on Green Economy (UN-PAGE) and UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) The partnership shares a vision of a green economy that provides prosperity for all within the ecological limits of the planet.
Some of the key insights include:
  1. strengthening social safety nets, 
  2. prioritising resilience while updating national contributions to the Paris Agreement, 
  3. publicly funding environmental restoration work through employment programmes, 
  4. transparently publishing recovery plans and budgets, 
  5. and designing national monitoring platforms to track the impact of recovery measures on SDGs. 
Some of these suggestions have also been echoed by the World Bank Group President David Malpass alongside its Global Economic Prospects report.
The core of many such commentaries, however, has revolved around calls for ‘green deals’ or a ‘green stimulus.’ Calls for green infrastructural investments are often pitted against the fiscal realities of developing countries. While there have been serious policy conversations around such green deals in developed countries (prominently in the EU and South Korea), no developing nation has as yet adopted such an ambitious frame for its recovery package.
There are some green shoots in the COVID-19 response in Global South nations. Developing countries seem to be finding creative ways to integrate elements of a green and just recovery into their COVID-19 responses. 
  • Malaysia has linked its recent 1 GW solar tender with COVID recovery, citing its ability to create 12,000 jobs. 
  • Nigeria has made large-scale residential solar installation using local material a pillar of its COVID-19 recovery plan, while opportunistically scrapping fossil fuel subsidies
  • Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan this week approved a green stimulus package that focuses on ecosystem restoration, which is estimated to have created 65,000 daily wage jobs for unemployed youth. The second phase aims to establish a National Parks Service with multilateral support and the third phase may feature Debt for Nature swaps. 
  • In the Philippines, government agencies have provided seeds and planting material necessary for urban gardening.

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