How much is an elephant worth? Valuing natural capital to protect nature and improve wellbeing

By Ekkehard Ernst, ILO Research Department and Geneva Macro Labs

Countries in the Global South dispose of a wealth of natural resources. Yet, many of them are also among the least developed. In the following I will argue that we have the tools to ensure that restoring and maintaining this astonishing biodiversity will enable these countries to reach middle-income status over the next decade, at the same time safeguarding our survival.

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Keeping 1.5 degrees alive means a better future for everyone

By Jayathma Wickramanayake, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, and Heeta Lakhani and Marie-Claire Graf, Focal Points – UNFCCC Youth Constituency

“Climate change will affect youth, children and future generations the most if we do not take action now!” This narrative is frequently heard at climate events in recent years, yet climate commitments and targets set by world leaders continue to focus on the distant future instead of prioritising the urgent climate action needed today. Families are already being repeatedly knocked into poverty, while eco-anxiety is rising among children and youth confronted by a disastrous future. Heat waves are leading to school closures, while floods, cyclones and droughts are driving unprecedented rates of food insecurity.

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Greening international debt data

By Rachid Bouhia, Economist in UNCTAD’s Division for Globalization and Development Strategies

The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated alarming debt levels in developing countries. By the time COVID-19 emerged, public debt in developing countries had increased steadily since 2013, in a context of more recurrent external shocks and rising fragilities in their debt positions, including those related to climate change. By the end of 2019, their total public debt – external and domestic – stood at 59% of combined GDP, the second-highest level on record (Figure 1). On a more positive note, there had also been a notable increase in the diversity and quantity of climate-related financial instruments at the national and regional levels. Information on the nature and scale of these initiatives is today critical to our understanding of – and policy response to – debt statistics.

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Mobilising the private sector for the green transition in emerging markets

By Maurizio Bezzeccheri, Head of Latin America Region, Enel Group, Arianna Checchi, Manager, Relations with International Organizations, Public Affairs, Eni, and Marta Martinez, Head of Analysis, Climate Change and Alliances, Iberdrola[1]

The path towards net zero by 2050 is narrow but brings huge benefits. Transformation of the global energy system – responsible for around three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide – holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change. Emerging markets are set to be amongst the worst-affected by the climate disaster and thus have most to gain from collective climate ambition – provided they can harness the necessary investment from the private sector.

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Least developed countries cannot afford to strand their assets, given their development challenges

By Paul Akiwumi, Director of UNCTAD’s Division for Africa and Least Developed Countries

The 46 least developed countries (LDCs) are among the most vulnerable developing economies. Given the already high pressure for these countries to grow sustainably, reduce poverty and improve livelihoods for their people, they cannot afford to strand their assets. Stranded assets are those whose value has fallen so steeply they must be written off. The growing risk of stranded assets has implications on countries’ right to development or right to promote sustainable development, raising important questions of equity.

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Why intermediary cities are vital to breaking dependency on high carbon development

By Dr Michael Lindfield, Senior Consultant and Dražen Kučan, Urban and Energy Efficiency Sector Lead (Green Climate Fund)

More than two thirds of the global population are expected to reside in cities by 2050. Urbanisation offers unprecedented risks and opportunities with respect to the global response to climate change. Cities and urban infrastructure are one of four global systems (others are energy, land and ecosystems and infrastructure) that are key to reducing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limiting long-term global warming levels to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Cities represent at least 58% of direct global emissions – 18% of all global emissions came from just 100 cities in 2017 – and constitute at least 21% of the potential for direct global emission reduction.  

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The Mediterranean hotspot

By Grammenos Mastrojeni, Senior Deputy Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean

Oceans and seas (henceforth used interchangeably) absorb over 90% of the additional heat generated by the greenhouse effect and then gradually release it across the planet. Humans may not consider oceans as a priority because we are a land species, but ocean warming brings natural disasters to our mainland. With the highest ocean temperatures recorded in 65 years, measured from surface level to a depth of 1.24 miles/2 km, these disasters are on the rise. The fires that raged in Australia and in the Amazon in 2020, and the heavy rainfalls in Europe and China, are evidence of the increased frequency of weather-related disasters. According to the  World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, weather-related hazards are the main driver of disasters, with a major human and economic toll on developing countries that are often more exposed to hazards and less prepared to address them and their consequences.

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Picture: People’s Bank of China, one of the most active central banks in the green and climate agenda

Engaging central banks in climate change?

By Dr. Dongyang Pan, School of Applied Economics, Renmin University of China, and Professor Raimund Bleischwitz, Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London

With the international community moving towards a “Net-Zero” economy, financial regulators and central banks have started showing significant interest in averting climate-related risks and promoting a green economic transition. Since 2015, when a report published by the Bank of England put forward that climate change could pose a risk to financial stability and economic development, there has been a shift in central banks’ mindset and they now participate in the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS). In 2020 and 2021, the European Central Bank and People’s Bank of China explicitly proposed to use monetary policy to enable the low-carbon transition. The EU is also pushing green investments via its financial taxonomy.

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Africa must be at the heart of COP26

By Dr Penny Byrne, Climate Research Analyst at Standard Bank & Simon Freemantle, Senior Political Economist at Standard Bank

The COP26 summit presents a vital opportunity for global leaders, particularly those representing developed economies, to place Africa’s unique and pressing needs and demands at the centre of a more equitable framework for future climate mitigation and adaptation. The reason for Africa’s centrality in these discussions is simple: though its contribution to climate change has been negligible (in all, Africa contributed just 4% of total emissions in 2019 despite being home to over 17% of the world’s population), the continent will be powerfully, indeed disproportionately, affected by its long-term consequences.

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The future of green is win-win

By Erik Solheim, President Green Belt and Road Institute and Former Minister of Environment and International Development of Norway

To face the great environmental – and in many respects existential – challenges of our time, we need to change the way we think. Green action is not a cost. Neither is it as difficult as we tend to believe. The green shift is a huge opportunity for win-win policies.

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