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Real green economies (WP1272)


This event brought together leading policy makers, business representatives and NGOs to share visions, evidence and ideas. Do ‘top-down’ green approaches offer promising frameworks? Might ‘bottom up’ approaches enable wider scale engagement?

In the last five years, the concepts of green growth or green economy have moved from the fringe of academic discourse to mainstream policy and investment. What unites them is the need to challenge the biases in economic structures and decision making that reinforce the ‘brown’ economy. However, a substantial disconnect has emerged between some models being adopted by international institutions and the diverse experiences, expectations and needs of particular countries and communities. If this is left unresolved, there is every risk that green growth will become associated with multinational corporations, intergovernmental agendas and already powerful industrialised countries – rather than an opportunity for disadvantaged groups and developing countries in particular to make the diverse economic transformations they need – and to benefit from them.

Key actions:

Stakeholders concluded that there is no single and abstract blueprint for greener economies. Rather, there are multiple approaches and pathways for transforming our economic systems. ‘Real green economies’ already exist at the community level so the opportunity now is to draw linkages between action on the ground and the momentum for change at the international level through 7 key actions:

  • Encourage multiple discourses that respond to human needs, fears and aspirations;
  • Tackle research and evidence gaps together, drawing on sustainable development experiences;
  • Support and reward leadership by gathering coalitions of the willing;
  • Increase the voice of marginalised stakeholders in political and financial processes;
  • Embrace a diversity of approaches but share and organise evidence more coherently;
  • Encourage learning and exchange across different stakeholder groups;
  • Keep the dialogue open in order to build trust between different approaches.


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