Green Economy Barometer: Who is doing what where, and why?

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February 2014
Emily Benson, Steve Bass, Oliver Greenfield
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Green Economy Coalition (GEC)

This paper sketches the profile of the changing ‘green growth/economy architecture’ at the global, national, corporate and local levels. It finds that the project of ‘green growth’ continues to gain political momentum, attract new investment and draw in new players. Secondly, it describes some of the frontiers of the green economy discussions. In particular, it shows how issues of equity and social inclusion are no longer fringe moral debates – but those of mainstream economics and politics. Thirdly, it questions if the emerging ‘green growth/economy architecture’ is capable of delivering more equitable outcomes and restoring our environment. Finally, the paper points to some of the key changes in order for the green economy to evolve, mature and supersede the brown economy.

The paper explicitly focuses on the emerging ‘green growth/economy architecture’. As such, its lens is honed to the changes (global, national, corporate and local) in institutional arrangements, governance structures, and financial flows as well as the political discourse. However, a wider lens shows that the brown economy is still dominant. Investment in renewable energy and natural resource protection is at a fraction of what it needs to be; financial and political short-termism still reigns; and measures of success are still dominated solely by GDP growth or profit margin indicators. For the shoots of the green economy to grow, mature and replace the current economic system, we need collective action to tackle some of the ‘fault-lines’ that are fragmenting the green economy landscape. We also need urgently to connect the macro objectives of a green economy transition to societal needs and aspirations.