12th Special Session GC/GMEF Website

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GC Day 1 - 20 February 2012

Side Event

Designing Progress towards Sustainability: Local and National Experiences with Targets and Indicators

The focus of the event was on setting sustainable development goals at local and national levels and the use of indicators for monitoring progress towards the goals. The event was opened by Steven Stone, Chief, Economics and Trade Branch, UNEP, H.E. Mr. ville Niinisto, Minster of Environment, Finland, and Amina Mohammed, Deputy Executive Director. The opening remarks highlighted global sustainability development challenges, the need for green economy to tackle the challenges, and accordingly the need to define how we move into a green economy and measure the goals supported by political actions. In the case of Finland, it was emphasized that this process of goal setting and measuring performance needs to happen at all levels, national and local government, NGOs, businesses, and communities. Actions at the local level could, in particular, make a major difference to achieving material and material efficiency, often exceeding national targets, while creating jobs.

Sheng Fulai, Head of Economics and Trade, moderated the presentations by: Mr.Kari Koski, Mayor of Uusikaupunki, Finland; Mr. Kang Sang-In, General Director, Global Strategy Center in the Korea Environment Institute, Republic of Korea; and Mr. Daniel Amlalo, Acting Director, Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Koski introduced the experience of his city Uusikaupunki in setting the target for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, involving businesses, schools, local communities through a bottom-up approach over the last three years. There have been measurable achievements in reducing GHG emissions and creating jobs. Major targets for the future include carbon reutiin, the share of renewable energy in total energy mix, and the share of green goods and services in total output.

Mr. Kang focused on his country's effort to assess progress in implementing the low carbon green growth strategy. The president of the country took the leadership in outlining a vision of green growth as the new national development paradigm for the next 60 years, in response to the increasing constraint on the country energy-intensive growth pattern. This strategy has been translated into policy objectives such as climate mitigation and energy independence, creation of new growth engines, and improvement in quality of life and enhanced international standing. There is also an institutionalization of the strategy through the creation of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, involving central and local governments, academics, civil society and experts jointly implementing related decrees and five-year green growth plan. There was the creation of the Global Green Growth Institute sharing experience with other countries.

In terms of targets and measurement, It was argued that low carbon green growth could be pushed by green technology revolution and pulled by stronger climate commitment and life style change. Mitigation target has been set and allocated to different sectors. Specific indicators are developed for the chosen pathways such as the share of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and R&D investment for achieving the target. As far as new growth engines are concerned, targets are also set, with a particular focus on R&D of green technologies and their commercialization with annual targets assigned to line ministries. Public awareness and life style change are important for influencing the production side.

Mr. Amlalo introduced the related work in Ghana. The green economy strategy in Ghana covers the aspects of low carbon, resource efficiency, social inclusiveness through mainstreaming the environment, including the application of strategic environmental assessment for all sectors, greening government procurement, and multi-donor budget support. The country is rich in natural resources and has been growing at a phenomenal speed. But under a business as usual scenario, by 2020, environmental cost of economic activities is estimated to be 9 per cent GDP. Currently a number of major polices are under development including national clean air act, national transport policy, oil and gas policy, etc. There is also effort to build up capacity with the support from UNEP and UNIDO. In addition, there is an effort to disclose information on the part of companies. The non-performers are sent to cleans production centers for support. The country also look at urbanization, waste management, sustainable transport, and is lifting subsidies for fossil fuels.

Discussions focused on: a) relationship between public and private investment in the initial stage f going towards low carbon development; b) how to manage the politically challenging reform of fossil fuel subsidy; c) how to link up different actors and communicate technically robust indicators to different audiences; d) the need to connect national indicators and targets to international ones and address the issue of compromise, an issue that has major implications for the discussion on sustainable development goals at the global level; e) the need to take into account the major international framework documents on environmental statistics, which will be released in nine days (as well as the System for Environmental-Economic Accounting).

In responding to the comments from the floor, the panelists mentioned that: importance to go from goals into means of implementation and ways to measure progress; green economy is not limited to either developed or developing countries; national governments need to offer incentives, but actions are taken at industry and consumer, therefore, goal setting and indicator development needs to involve dialogues with these audiences through public and private partnerships; government can be a catalyzer and use public resources to leverage private investments; need to adapt international standards to suit national circumstances; communicating with students and general public; leadership of government and effective public engagement is essential for implementing subsidy reform.

H.E. Ms. Edna Bomo Molewa concluded the event by briefly introducing the experience of South Africa in engaging all stakeholders while exercising government leadership. She also made reference to her country's major plans and efforts to achieve sustainable use of natural resources and adaptation to climate change. In addition, she emphasized that green economy is no substitute for sustainable development; it is a vehicle to carry us towards sustainability. Measuring green economy is to measure how green economy strategies an policies are delivering sustainability. In this context, she mentioned that international, national and local experiences in sustainable development goal setting and indicators development could well inform the current discussions on sustainable development goals and measurement of green economy performance.