Green Economy Shift Must Have All Aboard

In the quest to go green, as is the case with major changes, some people stand to gain much as others lose.

How then can we ensure a just transition that promises shared benefits? Since most institutions and economies are still in the early stages of transitioning towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development, this is the best time to install frameworks that would ensure fairness for all.

Waiting to do so after the train has long left the station might prove not only expensive but counterproductive and, therefore, unsustainable. Going green shouldn’t rob households of their livelihoods and break social safety nets, a situation that would reverse gains made in lifting socio-economic fortunes of developing countries.

The main goal of a green shift is to restore and protect the regenerative properties of the planet together with natural resources and ensure the modern society does not run out of inputs. In other words, the quest to find sustainability and longevity among corporations, households and economies is the driver. And this makes it necessary that no one should be left behind.

To this end, there is need to deliberately implement effective policies and strategies to create decent jobs in the green economy while offering fall-back options to those whose jobs have evaporated as a result of the transition.

Equally, with more and more young entrepreneurs coming up with climate-friendly innovations hoping to take advantage of the transition, more accelerators and incubation hubs should step up to guide these startups towards business development.

For financing institutions, this trend should trigger creation of innovative products targeting clean technology enterprises.

So-called ‘green economies’ come in different colours, but they have one thing in common – a commitment to promote responsible production and consumption with the aim of conserving resources. Developing the modern society has over the years been fuelled by oversized extraction of natural resources to drive the global economic engine. Much of it has been the so-called ‘brown growth’ largely dependent on environmentally destructive forms of economic activity, including oversized use of fossil fuels associated with greenhouses gas emissions, alongside deforestation.

It is now becoming clear that this pressure on nature and environmental neglect is starting to unravel in form of harsh effects of climate change amid resource shortages as a result of depletion. This is forcing humans to reconsider their relationship with the planet if they are to survive in future. The underlying wisdom in this shift is that whatever is produced today should meet the needs of the current society without putting to jeopardy those of the generations to come.

While going about this, countries and organisations should strive to learn global best practices on policies reconciling the transition to the green economy with inclusive job-rich growth. They should familiarise themselves with case studies and lessons from countries already applying just transition principles and frameworks.

This should then guide them in drafting laws and policy frameworks locally that would ensure inclusive and sustainable green growth.

Globally, green global bodies led by the UN should join hands in drafting and sharing guidelines rooted in research and studies to help manage a coordinated transition of the world.

The guidelines should provide a framework and practical tools for tackling the employment and social dimensions of sustainable development, climate change and other environmental challenges.

Reconciling decarbonisation of the economy with social justice is no easy task. While greening of economies brings many opportunities to achieve social and environmental objectives, the required economic restructuring also presents enormous challenges for enterprises, workers and the economy at large.

This is precisely why there is need to strengthen institutional and individual capacities to support a just transition around green jobs, which will require new training as old skills are rendered obsolete.

Social and impact enterprises should especially be offered support aimed at making them scale and at the same time solve some of the social problems that the world is facing.

There needs to be a joining of more forces to trigger a far-reaching revolution where enterprises drive wide-scale social transformation in the society while at the same time delivering profits and creating job opportunities.

To begin with, partnerships between commercial banks and accelerators could go a long way in ensuring scale-up of strategic enterprises through creation of flexible financing products. Incubation and acceleration serve to de-risk a startup, and while doing due diligence before issuing a credit line, banks can take comfort in the knowledge that incubated enterprises have a higher chance of succeeding.

This article was originally published by the Business Daily.

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