Country and organization representatives came together to report on progress made towards their commitments to the Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E) and Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA) at the 24th Session of the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy. The two initiatives serve to operationalise the Pan-European Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy—a tool supporting countries’ efforts in transitioning to a green economy and implementating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The mid-term review of the BIG-E initiative, released in November 2018, shows that major action has been taken across almost all of the 124 BIG-E and 108 BACA commitments—90% of commitments are ongoing or have been fully implemented—and that there is a high level of support for the initiative.
The 2109 Batumi Talk Show, Greening the economy and cleaning the air, provided an opportunity for countries to showcase success stories and share lessons learned around the transition to greener economies, improved air quality, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s edition was co-hosted by Rodolfo Lacy, Director of the OECD Environment Directorate, and Benjamin Simmons, Head of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP).
- Croatia has made progress on all five of its BIG-E commitments, and is in the process of developing its Second Action Plan.
- Finland is considered to have some of the most stringent environmental regulations and protections, but also has one of the most competitive economic markets. It has also completed its Circular Economy Roadmap 2016-2025.
- France’s Treasury launched the first state initiated green bond in the world, initially at €9.7 billion which has now increased to €14.8 billion.
- Georgia, where BIG-E and BACA were launched, has a national green growth strategy drafted which will be finalized in 2019, and has launched an innovative initiative to integrate the environment and SDGs into children’s media.
- Germany has moved forward on all four of its commitments, including launching the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre in May 2017.
- Kazakhstan in 2018 created the International Green Technologies and Investment Center which will continue to expand and develop over this year.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) held the first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health in late 2018 and is in the process of updating its air quality guidelines.
- BACA has become a global initiative, and is no longer limited to UNECE countries.
Through both the survey and the talk show discussions, the following emerged as the main challenges to the implementation of countries’ green economy commitments:
- Limited financial capital.
- Lack of knowledge and technical skills.
- Lack of adequate data for decision-making.
- Lack of green producers and service providers.
- Lack of green economy considerations in sectoral strategies.
Other key messages included:
- Stakeholder engagement is key to creating public buy-in and to the overall success of implementation.
- Changing consumer behaviour takes time, and cannot be achieved through one-off processes.
- Mainstreaming these initiatives and creating synergies across and between government ministries can augment overall impact and produce better outcomes.
To conclude, co-hosts Benjamin Simmons and Rodolfo Lacy emphasized how unique the Batumi initiatives are—a region of governments coming together to make voluntary commitments to sustainable development and clean air—and that the world needs to be more creative and innovative to address these complex issues.
The BIG-E and BACA initiatives remain open for stakeholders to join.
Photos from the event can be found here.
The Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) created the BIG-E database in order to ensure that the 124 commitments are easily accessible. The database allows users to browse and filter commitments by country, sector, theme and organisation.
This event follows the first Batumi Talk Show, Scoring SDGs through action on green economy and clean air, which took place on 27 April 2017 in Geneva on the margins of the sixty-seventh session of the Economic Commission for Europe, the UNECE governing body.