High-Level Opening Session

Day 1 - 16 November

GGSD_2021 Opening session

14:00 - 15:00 CET

Given the strong regional variation in the economic and social consequences of COVID-19, subnational governments play a key role in promoting a sustainable recoveryTo what extent have the response measures to address the health and economic crises helped or otherwise affected efforts to address environmental challenges? What can we learn from short-term support measures, including bailout programs for firms and sectors with large environmental footprints, and their effects on environmental sustainability? What could be done to better guide the longer-term recovery paths towards a more resilient and sustainable growth model that places green growth as a core concept? How to better design cities as well as mobility of people and goods for a greener and more resilient future? What synergies could be forged among efforts to address climate, air quality and health challenges? How can our built environment become safer and greener to enhance public health (e.g. urban density, regulation of polluting transport modes and activities) and to achieve a low-carbon future? What opportunities and challenges have been presented by the COVID-19 crisis for designing accessible and sustainable cities?  High-Level speakers will address these and related topics to set the scene for the 2021 GGSD Forum.

Session 1 - Urban transport and city design

Day 1 - 16 November

GGSD_2021 Urban transport

15:20 - 16:50 CET

While often served by better health care facilities than rural areas, cities have been epicentres of the pandemic in several countries. Possible explanations include urban air pollution and high population density. This latter was encouraged by “Compact city” policies, to promote sustainable development in cities. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new lifestyles and technologies, and increased the use of private cars and bikes due to concerns over infection risks on public transport.

This session will explore how COVID-19 has affected residents’ behaviour, and created challenges and opportunities for green urban mobility and city design. What role can urban planning play in reducing air pollution, mitigating climate change and promoting people’s well-being? What are the implications for mass transit, and shared and soft mobility in the “new normal”? How to best allocate public space in cities? How can concepts such as “localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals” and “the 15-min city” help to design greener cities?

Session 2 - Rethinking sustainable tourism

Day 2 - 17 November

GGSD_2021 Tourism


11:00 - 12:30 CET

International and domestic tourism have been heavily affected by the pandemic. While tourism can contribute to sustainable development and it is explicitly mentioned in several SDGs targets (e.g. targets for SDGs 8, 12, 14), pre-pandemic rapid growth in visitors led to negative economic, social and environmental impacts in a number of regions.

As governments support recovery of the tourism sector, this session will discuss the role of policies (e.g. transport, tourism, environmental) can ensure a green recovery and long-term sustainability of tourism. How to promote the horizontal (e.g. transport, environment, agriculture, innovation, education, tourism policies) and vertical (across national, regional, and local governments) coordination needed for the provision of sustainable infrastructure for tourism? What programmes can help local communities respond to fluctuations and eventual growth in visitors? The session may also explore how tourism promotion policies and those to attract remote workers and entrepreneurs could promote regional development. 

Session 3 - Energy efficiency and the built environment

Day 2 - 17 November

GGSD_2021 Energy Efficiency

13:45 - 15:15 CET

In many countires, green recovery measures have targeted the building sector which accounts for a third of global GHG emissions and has high job-creation potentials. As people spend more time at home for teleworking, energy use has shifted from commercial to residential buildings. Emerging evidence suggests that energy savings from reduced commuting could more than offset increased residential energy use from less energy-efficient homes, the trend of moving to larger homes in suburban/rural, and intensified IT use.

This session will discuss the implications of the pandemic for energy efficiency in the buildings sector, and how green recovery measures can enhance its sustainability. What lasting impacts has the pandemic had on commuting and office occupancy? How can building renovation policies benefit the environment and people’ wellbeing? What innovative policy and financing instruments can address the barriers to energy efficiency investments?  How could “deep retrofit” be promoted and what role for energy service companies (ESCOs)? The session may also investigate the implications of growing residential energy use for carbon-pricing policies and energy poverty.

Session 4 - Greening medium and long-distance transport

Day 2 - 17 November

GGSD_2021 Medium and long-distance transport

15:35 - 17:05 CET

Many governments have intervened to support airlines, which is one of the hardest hit sectors by the Covid-19 crisis. Yet, the findings of the OECD Green Recovery Database shows that significant shares of funding went to support this carbon-intensive sector often without any environmental conditionalities. Restoring air connectivity will be crucial for economic recovery, but this need to be compatible with concerns over the environmental and carbon footprints of the aviation sector. At the same time, rail connectivity is becoming competitive with short-haul flights.

This session will explore the role of recovery measures in greening of medium- and long-distance transport. What is the role of carbon pricing to mitigate carbon and other emissions from aviation when fuels are often exempt from taxes? What innovations could help to decarbonise aviation, and how could policies help to unlock them? What are the inter-modal complementarities and substitutability? The session will also discuss progress in measuring aviation carbon emissions, and the implications of the pandemic for the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

Session 5 - Tracking and analysing green recovery measures

Day 3 - 18 November

GGSD_2021 Tracking Green Recovery

14:00 - 15:30 CET (virtual session only)

A number of initiatives are analysing green recovery plans across countries. This session, jointly organised with the Green Growth Knowledge Partnership (GGKP), will bring together leading experts to discuss key findings, and the major challenges and opportunities they see ahead. Is the rhetoric on green recovery met by the reality of expenditure plans? What should the green growth community focus on in supporting a COVID-19 response? And what are the key lesson learnt and pitfall to avoid from previous economic recovery measures?