Green growth and sustainable development

Greening our Knowledge


Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP)

Paris, 4 April 2013
(As prepared for delivery)

Commissioner Potočnik, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the Second Annual Conference of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP). Since its successful inauguration in Mexico last year, the platform has established itself as one of the most innovative tools to disseminate analysis, expertise and experience on green growth.

This second conference again brings together the expertise of the OECD, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), UNEP, and the World Bank, as well as more than 250 policymakers, academics and representatives of businesses and civil society from advanced, emerging and developing economies. This is a great opportunity to jointly take forward the global green growth agenda.


The Role of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform

The GGKP is at the forefront of knowledge exchange on green growth, and it supports research in the many areas where knowledge gaps persist. It is aimed at supporting countries as they design and implement their own green growth strategies. As witnessed by the expanding network of GGKP partners and their participation in this Conference, the demand for green growth knowledge is ever-growing. This is excellent news!

Since its inaugural conference last year, members of the GGKP Council have been busy setting up a Secretariat, which is jointly hosted by the Global Green Growth Institute and UNEP, to assist in the day-to-day running of the GGKP. The Council members have also advanced the development of research programmes associated with the three priority research themes identified in Mexico for further exploration: indicators, innovation, and trade and competitiveness.

Over the next two days, the discussion will be framed around two headline themes: (1) Greening Global Value Chains and (2) Measurement and Reporting for Green Growth. In both areas we need a collective effort. The private sector can make a huge contribution. We therefore greatly appreciate the participation of business representatives at this conference.


Greening Global Value Chains: The magic of eco-trade.

Let me say a few words on the first topic: the importance of Greening Global Value Chains. Global value chains (GVCs) have become a dominant feature of world trade and investment flows. Analysing these chains and measuring their implications for trade, investment and real incomes is at the top of the OECD agenda, as illustrated by the recently released data on Trade in Value Added (TiVA).

There is wide recognition that globalisation has helped spread the benefits of global growth and diffused knowledge and technologies. The greening of these supply chains raises specific challenges while at the same time providing new opportunities. As demonstrated by the OECD project on Sustainable Manufacturing Toolkit, companies have started to track sales, costs, employee performance and customer satisfaction linked to environmental considerations, to market the sustainability credentials of their products along with their potential for saving costs. One example is reducing the lifecycle impact of laundry and dishwasher products. It saves energy and water costs for households and creates opportunities in packaging for sustainable sourcing.

To help countries make progress in greening their global value chains we still have to address several key questions: How do participants in global value chains interact, and how do they collectively affect the environment? What incentives can best foster collective environmental performance? And what kind of support do smaller companies and developing countries need to scale up greener GVCs and move up the value chain? I hope you’ll find some answers today in your discussions.


It is also crucial to measure green growth!

But how do we know if countries are making progress in greening their trade flows or their economies as a whole? We need to measure this progress. Quantifying, exposing and comparing the facts are the first steps on a sustainable and inclusive growth path. Measuring also helps to raise awareness among the public – by better understanding how governments are dealing with green growth and how each of us can contribute to this process.

Green growth indicators have already been used ─ both by governments and companies ─ to identify their environmental costs and risks by more holistically accounting for the cost of operations. With the use of these indicators, today, some companies (like PUMA, for example) know that as much as 90% of the environmental impacts are found in their supply chain, with up to 85% of that going right back the actual sourcing of raw materials.This evidence has already compelled some companies to develop strategic initiatives towards sustainable sourcing and conservation upstream.

The big challenge is how to establish a common basis to build and mainstream a green growth measurement framework, facilitating the application of green growth indicators in countries. I am therefore particularly proud that our four international organisations have pulled together their expertise and are leading the way towards a common approach to the measurement of green growth issues.

This joint report that we are presenting today ─ “Moving Towards a Common Approach on Green Growth Indicators” ─ is a first step towards developing a framework to monitor progress on Green Growth and Green Economy. This report is the first output of the GGKP research programme on Green Growth indicators and sets a milestone for global cooperation. Strong international cooperation on testing, exploring and refining measurement tools on green growth is essential to support implementation and assessment of policies in both developed and developing countries.

But this is just the beginning. We still need to address a series of key questions: How can we promote the greater allocation of resources towards collecting and compiling information among smaller companies and in countries with limited capacities? And how can international organisations best support public and private measurement efforts and facilitate convergence in approaches? I am confident that your deliberations will shed precious light on these issues.


Ladies and Gentlemen:

The GGKP is one of the most innovative and effective tools we have created to help countries transit to green growth. At the OECD we are enthusiastic and committed to contribute our multi-sectoral policy experience, our analytical tools, our best practices and our practical solutions. And we feel it is a privilege and a unique opportunity to be doing this with such competent international organisations. We aspire to greater cooperation with all of you. Only by joining forces, can we design, promote and implement greener and more sustainable policies for better lives.

It is my pleasure to now welcome Mr. Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, whose vast experience in leading the EU’s work in this area will contribute greatly to this event.  

Commissioner, the floor is yours. Thank you.

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