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STEPS Annual Lecture 2017: Achim Steiner - Doomed to fail or bound to succeed? Sustainable Development and the Green Economy Agenda – Revisited


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Achim Steiner, incoming UNDP director, gave the STEPS Annual lecture at the University of Sussex on 15 May 2017. Find out more:

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STEPS Annual Lecture 2017: Achim Steiner - Doomed to fail or bound to succeed? Sustainable Development and the Green Economy Agenda – Revisited

  1. 1. DOOMED TO FAIL OR BOUND TO SUCCEED? SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND THE GREEN ECONOMY AGENDA: REVISITED Achim Steiner Director, Oxford Martin School STEPS Centre Annual Lecture, Institute of Development Studies/ University of Sussex 15 May 2017
  2. 2. Climate change Antibiotic resistance Emerging viruses Novel biotechnologies Oil prices Migrant crises Inequality FamineTerrorism Cybersecurity Financial Stability Political upheaval Air pollution Nuclear proliferation Environmental disasters The Global ‘In-Tray’ There is clearly huge uncertainty…
  3. 3. The role of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis Historically, far-right votes tend to increase in the years following systemic banking stress, and when depressed economic conditions are allowed to persist (Funke et al 2015, Bromhead et al 2012)
  4. 4. Globalisation, mass flows of humans and capital, and persistent inequality • Capital has flowed ‘uphill’ to wealthy countries • Import shocks have disrupted regional economies • Immigration has not easily resulted in integration
  5. 5. Source:
  6. 6. What does the Anthropocene look like? Source: Living Planet Report 2016
  7. 7. Climate Change • Current CO2 concentrations are higher than they have been over the last 800,000 years • There is an established cause-effect chain from emissions to concentrations to temperatures Global mean temperatures since 1850Global mean CO2 concentrations since 1850The use of the global carbon budget Source: Ed Hawkins /
  8. 8. Climate change is already contributing New York Times Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought, Kelley et al, PNAS 2016
  9. 9. Rapidly shifting scientific & technological landscapes Source: Techonomy, 2016
  10. 10. The result: Deepening political segmentation and polarisation • Financial crises are policy failures, and repeated policy failures devalue traditional sources of authority (Krugman, NYT) • Paradigm shifts bring complexity, blurring and unpredictability • ‘Reactionary’ political movements arising globally are borne of a desire for control, simplicity, safety and order • “People are talking to their governments using 21st Century technology, governments listen on 20th Century technology and respond with 19th Century policies” (Madeleine Albright)
  11. 11. Sustainability Decarbonisation The great challenge: managing transitions and complexity Prolonged fiscal aftershocks Dramatic technological change Mass movement of people
  12. 12. OECD-FAO predicts that global agricultural production will only grow 1.5% annually over the next 10 years compared with 2.1% in the last decade. Increasing crop production increase the frequency of cropping (e.g. using irrigation) Sub-Saharan Africa currently has the world’s lowest cereal yields:1.25 tonnes/ha versus developed countries, developing Asia and Latin America which all attain around 4 tonnes/ha Agriculture uses 37% of global landmass (excluding Antarctica) Reducing waste Agriculture accounts for 70% of all freshwater drawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers increase land use increase yields Around 30% of the food produced globally is wasted – around 1.3bn tonnes. Food waste in high-income countries is dominated by consumer waste. Food waste in developing countries is at the pre- and post- harvest and processing stages due to spoilage Food and Agriculture
  13. 13. ‘Business as usual’: land use change • More land was converted to cropland in the 30 years after 1950 than in the 150 years between 1700 and 1850 • In 2000 cultivated systems cover 25% of Earth’s terrestrial surface Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, UNEP • An estimated 23% of all usable land is degraded • 20% of the world’s pasture and rangelands have been damaged • 580m ha of forests have been degraded by logging and clearance, nearly 40% of this since 1975
  14. 14. World Water Requirements Source: 2030 Water Resources Group, 2013 Around 20% of the world’s aquifers are being over-exploited Global water withdrawals are projected to increase by 55% through 2050, due to growing demands from manufacturing (400%), thermal electricity generation (140%), and domestic use (130%) An estimated 30% of global water withdrawals are lost through leakage
  15. 15. Energy demand is expected to increase by 32% by 2040, with global electricity demand growing by over 70% Renewables are expected by the IEA to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity by the early 2030s World Energy Requirements Source: IEA, 2013 Exajoulesperyear MillionTonnesofOilEquivalent
  16. 16. Sustainable Development Goals The SDGs are a powerful shared vision of development They recognise the complexity of the challenge They are universal, and they are integrated
  17. 17. The 2030 Agenda • The SDGs are integrative: they promote economic development, social protection and environmental health • A healthy, well-functioning environment is crucial for the health of human beings • The SDGs are universal: they represent universal principles, standards and values applicable to all countries and all peoples • National and global development is connected • The 2030 Agenda is a fundamental shift from a growth- based economic model to a sustainable and equitable one
  18. 18. Green Economy Definitions • Multiple green economy and green growth definitions have been developed, including the following: – UNEP: “A green economy is one that results in improved human well- being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcity.” (UNEP, Green Economy Reports: A Preview, 2010, p. 4-5) – OECD: ”Green growth means fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies.” (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Towards Green Growth, 2011, p. 9) – Green Economy Coalition: “An economy that provides better quality of life for all within the ecological limits of the planet” (Green Economy Coalition:
  19. 19. Source: UNEP 2015
  20. 20. Envisioning a circular and green economy Source: UNEP 2015
  21. 21. Resource decoupling: using less land, water, energy & materials to maintain economic growth Impact decoupling: using resources wisely over their lifetime to reduce environmental impact
  22. 22. The Headwinds …particularly for SDG10: Inequality • OECD employment: challenged by automation, (perceived effects of) immigration, and lack of economic resilience • African employment: the transition from an agrarian economy • Politically shifting sands: USA retreating, China engaging • Aid fatigue – and the implication for climate victims • And increasing questions over the role of traditional international policy pathways and their ability to effect change
  23. 23. The role of public policy COP-21 in Paris is a legally binding treaty Each country’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) of greenhouse gas emission reductions will be enacted through domestic mitigation measures All countries must produce a Low Emission Development Strategy by 2020 Emissions The Green Economy
  24. 24. • Achieving the SDGs opens up an economic prize of at least US$12 trillion by 2030 for the private sector, and potentially 2-3x more • Over 50% of the prize is located in developing countries Source: Business Commission Report, 2017 Job Creation and Business Opportunities from the Sustainable Development Goals
  25. 25. Product reformulation Cattle intensification Reducing packaging waste Technology in smallholder farms Reducing food waste in value chain Technology in large scale farms Low-income food markets Restoring degraded land Forest ecosystem services Micro- irrigation Reducing consumer food waste Dietary switch Sustainable aquaculture Urban agriculture US$405bn US$365bn US$265bn US$220bn US$205bn US$180bn US$140bn US$125bn US$105bn US$85bn US$85bn US$65bn US$55bn US$40bn Business opportunities from the SDGs The dollar amount is the difference between an estimate of a business-as-usual scenario and the SDG
  26. 26. Road safety equipment Office sharing Water & sanitation infrastructure Municipal water leakage Affordable housing Autonomous vehicles Public transport in urban areas Smart metering Energy efficiency - buildings Cultural tourism Car sharing Internal combustion engine fuel efficiency Building resilient cities Electric and hybrid vehicles US$1080bn US$770bn US$205bn US$205bn US$170bn US$160bn US$155bn US$155bn US$110bn US$90bn US$90bn US$90bn US$70bn US$320bn Business opportunities from the SDGs The dollar amount is the difference between an estimate of a business-as-usual scenario and the SDG Timber buildings US$40bn Durable and modular buildings US$40bn
  27. 27. Energy efficiency – non energy intensive industries Mine rehabilitation Shared infrastructure Energy access Circular economy - automotive End-use steel efficiency Circular economy - electronics Local content in extractives Expansion of renewables Green chemicals Resource recovery Energy efficiency – energy-intensive industriesCarbon capture and storage Circular economy – appliances and machinery US$810bn US$605bn US$365bn US$210bn US$315bn US$195bn US$175bn US$150bn US$150bn US$130bn US$120bn US$120bn US$65bn US$525bn Business opportunities from the SDGs The dollar amount is the difference between an estimate of a business-as-usual scenario and the SDG Energy storage US$260bn Additive manufacturing US$125bn Grid interconnection US$35bn
  28. 28. China’s emergence as a ‘global leader’ • China and the low carbon economy – 2016 investment in renewable energy: $88bn – 1 new wind turbine being installed every hour – Beijing set to implement the world’s largest emissions trading system in 2017 – China’s emerging green bonds market could deliver $230bn over next 5 years – 2016 China’s foreign investment spend on renewable projects: $32bn in 2016 (Source: N Stern, Financial Times 2017) Davos 2017: Xi Jinping’s speech defends global trade and the Paris climate agreement and calls for stronger international co-operation to meet today’s global problems
  29. 29. Ecological Civilisation • A national strategy for innovative, concerted, green, open and inclusive development • 18th National Congress, 2012: China must incorporate the idea of ecological civilization into all aspects of economic, political, cultural and social progress • An ethical morality and ideology which realizes harmonious co-existence with nature and sustainable development reflecting the progress of civilization
  30. 30. Cause for optimism: current progress on the SDGs • Maintaining the present pathways, by 2030… – Extreme poverty will be eliminated across much of Asia – Global maternal mortality will be reduced to 150 deaths per 100,000 births – Sub-Saharan Africa will see the largest increase in the proportion of young people completing secondary education – More than 1.7bn people globally will gain access to electricity – Inequality will fall in low-income countries – There will be a halt to declining forest cover with an increase beginning from 2020 Source:
  31. 31. We live in a moment of great opportunity
  32. 32.