Using Data to Strike a Balance Between Ambitious Environmental Policies & International Competitiveness

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24 January 2017

On January 23 and 24th, the Green Growth Knowledge Platform convened a 1.5-day workshop that drew together leading academics, statistical experts, and database managers to discuss opportunities for improving data on green growth policies in developing countries, in order to better assess their impact on trade and economic competitiveness.

The expert workshop explored three fundamental questions: (1) What are the key data needs for assessing the trade and competitiveness impact of green growth policies? (2) What data and features are available in today’s global environmental policy databases? and (3) What options should be pursued to augment existing databases for competitiveness research? Workshop participants also explored green growth data and knowledge gaps beyond environmental policy data such as measuring environmental policy stringency, accounting for environmental enforcement and compliance, and emerging issues around trade and economic competitiveness in today's political economic climate. 

The workshop heard presentations from leading experts in measuring the trade and competitiveness impacts of environmental policies. These included GGKP Advisory Committee member Ann Harrison (Economist, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania) who discussed 'The role of environmental policy data in studies of economic competitiveness'. Other key speakers included Misato Sato (Environmental Economist, London School of Economics), Caley Johnson (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado, USA), Joëlle Noailly (Environmental Economist, Graduate Institute, Geneva), Alejandro Iza, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Karolina Daszkiewicz, IEA (International Energy Agency), Ivan Haščič, OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), Sarah Booth, (Consultant – GGKP Trade and Competitiveness Research Committee), Florian Bauer, REEEP (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership), and Clara Brandi, DIE-GDI (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik / German Development Institute). The meeting was chaired by John J. Maughan of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform.


GGKP outlined a series of concrete next steps at the conclusion of the meeting, including a project proposal aimed at augmenting existing databases for better assessing the competitiveness impacts of green growth policies in developing countries. GGKP will also engage with environmental policy databases in order to scope out opportunities for bolstering the databases' use in economic analysis. Moreover, GGKP will make available online a list of environmental policy databases with web links and will explore building a new ontology for environmental policy data that can facilitate bulk data downloads, linked open data sharing and data services.


The expert workshop built on the prior work of the GGKP Trade and Competitiveness Research Committee. In 2015, the Committee published the scoping study “Measuring Environmental Action and Economic Performance in Developing Countries”, which comprehensively assessed how environmental policy stringency has been measured to date, outlined definitional and conceptual challenges, and identified key knowledge gaps where further research efforts were needed, including new data collection and measurement systems.

One critical gap identified in the study was the lack of data on environmental policies taken in developing countries - a key starting point for evaluating the stringency impacts of green growth policies on on trade, innovation, and other economic measures. To address this gap, the GGKP Trade and Competitiveness Research Committee convened the expert workshop to explore the potential for improving online policy databases to support the green economy transition, with an explicit effort to capture policies in developing countries.