A new report on inclusive green growth by infoDev and the World Bank reveals valuable insights from international experience and community workshops in South Africa. “Inclusive Green Growth. Findings from community outreach through the Climate Innovation Center in South Africa,” will be officially launched at the 5th Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship, taking place in East London, South Africa, May 28th-30th. The publication illustrates findings from international experience and community outreach in South African townships for the Climate Innovation Center (CIC) in South Africa.
We spoke with Jonathan Coony, Program Coordinator of infoDev’s Climate Technology Program (CTP), on CTP’s most recent publication.
The “Green Economy” or “Green Growth” is a term increasingly used and adopted by policy makers, civil society and businesses alike – what does it mean?
In recent years, “green growth” has been gaining momentum through a number of international studies and national policy documents as an emerging growth strategy that drives sustainable development. Green growth does not replace more traditional pro-growth policies but complements them as way to achieve both economic and environmental impact. For countries, it means they can work toward economic growth objectives, address energy challenges, and increase employment, while simultaneously addressing environmental threats such as climate change or local air and water pollution.
Why should inclusivity and green growth go hand-in-hand? Why should policy makers, donors and businesses be promoting this type of growth?
Inclusivity and green growth do not necessarily go hand-in-hand but just as economic growth cannot guarantee that the poor and marginalized will benefit, neither can “green growth”. Many of the benefits from green growth will accrue from innovative and sophisticated technologies or financial products that will not naturally extend to disadvantaged groups. This can result in real or perceived inequalities. Therefore, what inclusive growth seeks is an explicit effort to expand the flow of benefits to ensure that all segments of society can benefit from economic development associated with green growth.
What is the importance of inclusive green growth for entrepreneurs and small to medium size enterprises (SMEs)?
Small and medium size enterprises tend to make up a large portion of the economy in developing nations and face considerable barriers such as lack of access to traditional growth capital, markets, information, technology and inadequate regulatory policy conditions. The ability for these entrepreneurs and SME’s to participate in the green economy is key to the inclusive green growth model as they address local climate challenges, provide critical solutions to the needs of the rural poor and create sustainable jobs.
How can the Climate Innovation Center (CIC) in Gauteng adopt an inclusive practice?
The community workshops and research resulted in practical guidance to help increase access to clean technology goods and services and improve opportunities for entrepreneurs in the low-income and historically disadvantaged population in East London and Gauteng. Fostering innovative clean technology entrepreneurs within these disadvantaged segments will improve critical issues such as energy and water access, and contribute to overall environmental sustainability. It is also crucial to ensure that these solutions not only accelerate inclusion but are also commercially viable for both the end-user and innovator. The study came up with four strategies for the Gauteng CIC to employ to maximize inclusive green growth: (i) improve the quality, timeliness and flow of information on climate-friendly solutions to end users at the BoP, (ii) match end user financing to the stream of benefits, thereby reducing the upfront cost of switching or adoption, (iii) Extend community-level presence of institutional apparatus through partnerships with established actors in the social economy and, (iv) offer assistance and incentives that motivate firms to innovate towards inclusion.
How does inclusivity relate to infoDev’s global Climate Technology Program?
The CTP is establishing Climate Innovation Centers (CICs) in eight countries around the world to foster innovative clean technology ventures. Additionally, the CTP is also scaling up coordinated global activities that will complement and leverage bottom-up in-country activities through a global network that will link the CICs and actors which the CICs support. In all of these activities, the CTP will strive to use its services and the products for the companies it supports to address the needs of the poor and most vulnerable to climate change.