Methodological framework for assessing green economy performance of environmental initiatives in developing countries

A green economy has three pillars of sustainable development: ecosystem protection, economic growth and social equity.

Evidence-based criteria

A checklist that examines initiatives with regard to their green economy performance must address all these criteria. In the following, the three pillars are briefly described.

Ecosystem protection

In a green economy, natural capital must be used efficiently while reducing environmental risk so that resource use is sustainable and ecological scarcities are alleviated.2 Based on this, this chapter proposes the following proxy indicators to assess the performance of green economy initiatives in developing countries with respect to environmental sustainability in four sectors:

Forest: forest cover stays the same or increases (contributes to SDG 15);

Freshwater: watersheds or water surfaces remain or come under effective protection (contributes to SDG 6);

Renewable energy technologies: cleaner technologies are introduced for improving access to clean energy and energy efficiency as well as reducing GHG (contributes to SDGs 7 and 13); and

Cities: the public transport network stays the same or increases; energy demand is met by green sources; green areas in urban areas increase or remain the same; food is increasingly produced in urban/peri-urban areas; the stock of green buildings and sustainable infrastructure in general increase; and materials are preferably locally sourced and where appropriate they can be composted, recycled and reused in order to reduce waste or avoid its increase (contributes to SDGs 6,11 and SDG 12).

Economic growth

Green economy initiatives must promote and deliver economic growth over time. Gross domestic product growth is traditionally regarded as the single most important indicator for economic growth and development. Besides assessing the impact of specific green economy initiatives on the local economy, this chapter also proposes that public and private investments that support the initiative can be used as proxy indicators for gross domestic product growth. These indicators contribute to SGDs 8 and 17.

Social equity

Green economy initiatives must improve people’s lives and well-being and promote social equity and health benefits. Based on the system of indicators developed by Villatoro and Feres (2007) to monitor social cohesion in Latin America, this chapter proposes the following proxy indicators to assess social equity:

Poverty reduction (contributes to SDG 1)

  • • People’s income increases or at least does not diminish; and
  • • Additional benefits are received by vulnerable groups in society.

Employment (contributes to SDG 8)

• Jobs are created or at least remain the same.

Social protection (contributes to SDG 1)

• People are incorporated into social protection schemes.

Education (contributes to SDG 1)

  • • More people are educated or trained through green economy initiatives. Health (contributes to SDG 3)
  • • People live in improved environments (i.e. indoor and outdoor pollution is reduced or at least does not increase);
  • • People have healthier lifestyles.

Consumption and access to basic services (contribute to SDG 1)

  • • Increased access to basic services including access to safe water and sewerage;
  • • Increased access to social infrastructure (e.g. supermarkets, hospitals, public transport).

Grade system to assess green performance

Through the assessment of environmental initiatives’ performance levels, this chapter provides a framework for determining whether a given initiative can be classified as a green economy initiative (seeTable 13.1).3

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