Transitioning to Inclusive Green Growth in the Middle East and Asia

In 1987 the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development released Our Common Future, commonly known as the Brundtland Report. This publication contained the most widely recognized definition of the concept of “sustainable development.” As defined in the document, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Two years later, a group of leading environmental economists presented a report to the Government of the United Kingdom titled Blueprint for a Green Economy in which they coined the term “green growth” and offered practical policy measures for putting modern economies on a path to sustainable development.

In general terms, a “green economy” is one whose growth is driven by investments in human and social capital that:

➢ Reduce carbon emissions and pollution
➢ Enhance energy and resource efficiency
➢ Prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The U.N. Environment Program (UNEP)-led Green Economy Initiative (GEI) was launched in late 2008 with the overarching objective of providing the analysis and policy support for investing in “green sectors” and in “greening” environmental unfriendly sectors. Four years later, the Rio+20 Summit’s outcome document, The Future We Want, recognized “green economy” as an important tool for achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication. A World Bank report released in May of that same year begins: “Inclusive green growth is the pathway to sustainable development.”

The Bank’s report goes on to state that although economic growth has lifted many hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the span of just a quarter of a century, these gains had often come at the expense of the environment. The report further states that we cannot assume that green growth will be inclusive and equitable. Therefore, green growth policies must be developed to ensure maximized benefits and minimized costs to the poor and most vulnerable, and policies and actions with irreversible negative impacts must be avoided. Since then, a large and growing number of countries have actively pursued green economy pathways, working with U.N. agencies and other stakeholders.

The essays in this series explore the need for, the progress in developing, and the looming challenges associated with policies aimed at transitioning to inclusive green growth in the Middle East and Asia.

Sep 12, 2017
Greening the Egyptian Economy with Agriculture
Nihaya Khalaf
Agriculture is a significant contributor to Egypt’s economy. However, in recent years Egypt has faced serious challenges producing food for a growing population in a sustainable manner. How can the Egyptian economy be “greened” with agriculture? In an effort to address this question, this essay provides an in-depth analysis of recently enacted laws — including the Egyptian Constitution of 2014 and Law (26/2015) — that could have a far-reaching impact on sustainable agriculture and food security.

Oct 03, 2017
Emerging Asia and the Middle East: The New Energy Silk Road
Kishan Khoday
Energy remains among the most strategic natural assets in the world economy and a fundamental basis for achieving and sustaining development goals. As we look to the future, two key mega-trends are catalyzing changes to the traditional energy security landscape, with important links to the development agenda: rising energy demands from Asia’s emerging economies such as China and India; and the ecological crisis facing the planet and the related move towards low-carbon models of development. This essay discusses the new partnerships that are rapidly emerging between Asia and the Middle East to engage these trends — on the one hand to expand supply of Middle East energy to Asia, and on the other to expand clean energy technology and finance from Asia to the Middle East.