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Some of our earliest, vanguard thinkers highlighted some time ago that we are on a “spaceship earth” and need to align our economies to better fit that reality. And that our historical and traditional approach to growth and prosperity centered on taming and exploiting a seemingly endless resource frontier, giving rise to the idea of a “cowboy economy” where anything goes and essentially wealth is for the taking.
Affordable and reliable access to infrastructure is critical for development, with major implications for health, education, social mobility, firm productivity, climate change, energy, forests and biodiversity. But access alone is not enough. What we really need is sustainable infrastructure. Sustainable infrastructure will provide the services and foundation for growth that are needed to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity – but to get there, we must substantially increase financing for infrastructure in the developing world.
Julia Karst, GIZ, discusses their recent study which analyses macroeconomic choices needed for the Government of Costa Rica to reach its 2021-target of carbon neutrality.

Waste generates significant global economic, social and health-related costs and liabilities. Each year cities generate approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste and this is expected to grow to 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025 (World Bank, 2013). The decay of its organic component contributes to about 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (UNEP, 2015).

Investing in greening the waste sector can generate multiple economic and environmental benefits. The world market for recycled municipal waste is worth an estimated US$ 300 billion a year and the waste management sector is a significant source of employment, particularly in developing countries (Frost & Sullivan, 2014). Improved waste management has the potential to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20 per cent, and reduces the contamination of surrounding ecosystem (UNEP, 2012). Greening the waste sector primarily involves the three 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – with the long-term vision being to establish a “circular economy” in which the use of materials and subsequent waste is limited, most unavoidable waste is recycled or remanufactured, and any remaining waste is treated so as to minimize environmental damage or even create additional value through recovering energy embedded in material or products. 

Relevance to SDGs

The importance of integrated waste management is stressed as a part of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12, describing sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as mentioned in SDG 11.6 urging special attention to municipal waste management to make our cities more resilient.

Explore green growth resources related to SDG 12: 

SDG 12.3
        Food Waste        
   SDG 12.4
    Chemical Waste    
   SDG 12.5
Waste Management


Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Harvard University, GGKP Annual Conference

Best Practices

Macquarie University, University of Newcastle, Australia
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA)

Learning Products

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
World Bank, Korea Green Growth Partnership (KGGP)


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH