Opening Session

Day 1: November 27

14.00 - 15.30 

This session will provide the context for the conference as well as an overview of the green transition opportunities through keynote speeches by representatives from international organisations, local governments, the private sector and academia.

Opening Remarks by Moderator Masamachi Kono

Deputy Secretary-General, OECD

Keynote address:

  • Ban Ki-Moon, President of the Assembly & Chair of the Council of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
  • Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  • Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, France (Invited)
  • Russel Mills, Incoming Secretary-General, Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC)


Scene-setting presentation:

  • Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics

OECD perspectives:

  • Presentation on key messages from the OECD Economics Department

Session 1 - Jobs & skills transition management: Strengthening green human capital

16.00 - 17.30 

Many countries, regions and localities have experienced structural changes to their economies with significant employment and distributional impacts. Such transitions have often been part of the dynamic churn of the global economy. From the UK coal mine closures of the 1980s, the winding down of heavy industry sectors such as steel in the US and shipbuilding in Japan, to the digitalisation of today, structural changes with competitiveness and employment impacts have stirred concerns and resistance on the part of affected industries and workers. This session could discuss lessons from past structural changes and consider if they are applicable to today’s green transition. Further, discussion will explore how worker reallocation, redeployment and re-skilling can be promoted, considering e.g. the specific challenges faced by regions whose economics are based on fossil-fuel extraction or on carbon-intensive industries. Also, the role of SMEs could be considered, as well as the gender dimension in the low-carbon transition, e.g. for the predominately male work-force of extractive industries and other carbon-intensive sectors. What are the best approaches to help workers move from declining industries and regions to those with better growth prospects, with accompanying policies to help individuals upgrade their skills and assist lagging regions with catching up? What role for social safety nets and social dialogue to manage the transition and prepare for the future? 

Moderator: Steven Stone

Chief of UN Environment's Geneva-based Economy and Trade Branch 


  • OECD Government, policy maker
  • Samantha Smith, Director, Just Transition Centre, ITUC
  • Eva Nordmark, President, Swedish Conference of Professional Employees
  • Catherine Saget, Senior Economist, International Labour Organization (ILO)

Scene-setting Presentations: 

  • Olivier Deschenes, Professor of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Stefano Scarpetta, Director, OECD Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs

Questions for discussion

  1. Can the impacts of the green transition on workers be “managed” by traditional job market policies or do they warrant novel approaches? What are the key policy tools?
  2. What are the relevant lessons from past industrial restructuring for worker redeployment, re-skilling and social compensation? How to best identify in advance the skill needs for a future greener economy?
  3. To what extent is the transition to a green economy compatible with decent work?

Session 2 - Green growth and competitiveness

firms who win, firms who lose

Day 2: November 28

09.30 - 11.00 

Less stringent or less strictly enforced environmental policies in other jurisdictions, and concerns about the resulting negative competitiveness impacts for domestic firms, are often used by politicians as justification for not introducing more ambitious environmental policies. However, OECD analysis shows that more stringent environmental policies can lead to enhanced productivity gains for more technologically-advanced firms. Moreover, efficient policy design can be a more important determinant of competitiveness impacts than stringency per se.  Similarly, while recent work shows that an increase in relative energy prices has a negative effect on trade flows and foreign direct investment, the scale of these impacts is very small compared with other determinants of trade and investment location choices such as transport costs, proximity to demand or the skill sets of local workers.


Moderator: Rodolfo Lacy

Director, OECD Environment Directorate


  • OECD Committee, Delegate
  • Stephan Sicars, Director, Environment Branch, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • Tilman AltenburgGerman Develpment Institute (DIE); Chair of GGKP Research Committee on Competitiveness
  • Donal O'Riain, Managing Director, Ecocem Materials Ltd., Ireland

Scene-setting presentation: Carolyn Fischer

Professor of Environmental Economics, Free University, Amsterdam

Questions for discussion:

  1. How to design green transition policies to prevent adverse impacts on competitiveness without dampening incentives to develop cleaner processes and products?
  2. What combinations of environmental and complementary (e.g. R&D) policies best encourage green innovation?
  3. What should be the key priorities for government strategies for aligning sustainability and competiveness in international supply chains?
  4. Can the green transformation enable developing countries to ‘leapfrog’ into new leading industries given that green innovation is heavily concentrated in more advanced countries?

Session 3 - Social impacts of the green transition on households


The social and political support for the transition towards a green and low-carbon future depends on whether its costs and benefits are distributed across the society in a fair and transparent manner.  There is increasing evidence that poorer neighbourhoods facing greater exposure to air pollution and other environmental risks. At the same time, low-income households are more vulnerable to, for instance, to higher energy or water prices. This session will discuss recent evidence on how the consequences of both environmental policies and exposure to pollution vary with household income and with other socio-demographic characteristics. The discussion will build on insights, e.g. from energy pricing or subsidy reforms, resource and water pricing and other policies to preserve biodiversity and other natural capital, energy efficiency programs, which may have negative impacts on household budgets or livelihood of communities. The session will also examine how green growth policies could also address poverty reduction. How can cities or local authorities promote a more social inclusion and environmental improvements via – for instance – housing or transport policies? Can they help to meet both inclusive and green objectives?


Moderator: Frank Rijsberman

Director-General, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)


  • Theresa Griffin, MEP for the North West of England; EU Observatory on energy poverty
  • Nicolas Howarth, Research Fellow III, Energy Transitions and Environment, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC)
  • Kevin Chika UramaProfessor, Senior Advisor to the President of the African Development Bank (AFDB), formerly the Inagural Managing Director of the Quantum Global Research Lab (Invited)

Scene-setting presentation: Ian Parry

Principal Environmental Fiscal Policy Expert, International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Questions for discussion:

  1. What approaches exist to balance affordability vs. higher energy bills from subsidy reform or carbon pricing to promote the low-carbon transition?
  2. How to implement policies to conserve and sustainably use natural resources while minimising loss of livelihoods for communities that rely on fisheries and other natural-resource-based activities?
  3. Are inclusive growth policies compatible with green growth policies? How to design and implement policies, reflecting the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development?
  4. How to ensure that national and local policies are aligned so that green measures lead to more inclusive outcomes at all levels?


Parallel sessions - Presentations of selected papers


The Founding Partners of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (OECD, World Bank, UN Environment and the Global Green Growth Institute) announced the Call for Papers for the Sixth GGKP Annual Conference. The conference sessions will be developed around competitiveness, employment and distributional impacts of green policies. The role of SMEs in this context will also be explored. Panel discussions among academics, policy makers and business, labour and civil society representatives will discuss the selected papers submitted under the following themes:

  1. A. Competitiveness impacts of environmental policies
  2. B. Distributional consequences of environmental policies
  3. C. Green industrial policy
  4. D. Employment implications including development of green skills
  5. E. Sectoral/structural transition management (including labour re-allocation, re-skilling/vocational training)
  6. F. Impacts of the transition to a circular economy
  7. G. First-mover advantage from green policies
  8. H. Behavioural insights in relation to environmental and structural adjustment policies
  9. I. Role of SMEs in the green and “inclusive” transition


The scientific committee will take decisions on the selected papers and authors will be informed by 10 September 2018.

Session 4 - Special Panel Discussion: Green transition in a post-truth world

How to close the gap between perception and empirical evidence?

Day 3: November 29

11.15 - 12.30 

The final Plenary will consider why there may be gaps between public perceptions and empirical evidence showing that impacts of environmental policies on firm or sectoral competitiveness are rather limited, as suggested by several studies. Furthermore, the discussion will address how countries can advance on the green transition in the “post-truth” era. How can governments do their job of evidence-based policy making to address environmental challenges when citizens doubt the scientific evidence or dismiss expert advice? Understanding the actual preferences of citizens and consumers and therefore their consequent behaviour and choices is critical, and there could be behaviour-informed methods or tools that de-bias existing mechanisms to understand or get closer to “the truth”. 



Director, OECD Secretariat


Scene-setting presentations


  • Janez PotočnikCo-Chair of International Resource Panel hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme. Former European Commissioner for Environment; Former Slovenian Minister for European Affairs
  • Cameron Hepburn, Professor of Environmental Economics, SSEE, Oxford University, UK


Questions for discussion:

  1. How can countries advance on the green transition in the “post-truth” era?
  2. How are the risk and benefit perceptions of citizens and businesses formed? How to close the gap between perception and empirical evidence? Have experts truly lost importance in the current public debate?
  3. How to better understand the true preferences of citizens? What lessons from behavioral sciences can be applied in improving the design and delivery of policies for the green transition? What role for the OECD and other partners?

Closing and GGKP Partner Signing Ceremony

12.30 -13.00 

This final session will provide the opportunity to review policy implications and possible future work for the OECD.

The signing ceremony will involve the 5 GGKP partners as a foresight on their renewed collaboration and strengthening of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform. The GGKP partners will sign a new memorandum of understanding to ensure the continuation of collaboration for the next 5 years, and welcome UNIDO as a new partner organisation.


  • Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment
  • LI Yong, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • Frank Rijsberman, Chief Economist for Climate Change, World Bank
  • Marianne Fay, Chief Economist for Climate Change, World Bank
  • Masamichi KonoDeputy Secretary-General, OECD


GGSD_2018_Signing partners