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How well are we doing?

National green economy plan



How well are we doing?

Many of the 20 countries covered by the tracker are starting to see relatively strong and consistent performance in planning for a green economy. This partly reflects that designing a national green economy plan is often the first step for countries looking to reform their economies, and that several of the countries reviewed are green economy leaders in their regions in having taken this initial step - with varying levels of ambition. A new trend to watch is that emerging economic giants like China and India are starting to better integrate environmental commitments into economic planning, and even developing countries like Uganda and Senegal are raising their green economy ambition - with Ethiopia setting a world leading pace on planning.

However, the vast majority of these country plans aren’t yet ambitious enough to deliver on the Paris Agreement, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and protecting nature. Only Sweden, Costa Rica, and the previously mentioned Ethiopia are reaching our highest level of planning ambition, with a large trailing group as diverse as France and Mongolia, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, South Korea and Germany, close behind but in need of more detailed targets and practical commitments to match their ambition. Some countries plans, such as South Africa and Bangladesh's, were ambitious when they were first announced but have now been surpassed and are in dire need of updating.

Notable laggards who have strides to make on planning include Nigeria, Turkey and Brazil - with relativly mediocre planning by Australia, USA, and Spain somewhat disappointing. Across the board, delivery and implementation of the new wave of green economy plans and targets the crucial next step for governments

We can create a world with clean air and water, unlimited energy and fish stocks that will sustain us well into the future. But to do that, we need a plan.

David Attenborough
Broadcaster and Naturalist; speaking at WEF 2019

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About this policy

Restructuring our economies to be sustainable and inclusive is a complicated process. It’s vitally important, therefore, for governments to develop a national green economy plan. This is a holistic strategy that links climate, nature, and the economy together, ensuring that all other economic and environmental policies, and public and private sector actors, are working together to deliver change.

This kind of planning helps national governments integrate their commitments under different international frameworks, such as the Paris Agreement’s climate targets, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Ultimately, a green economy plan must establish a clear path for economic reform, and set a high level of ambition to drive change - for example, achieving a net-zero carbon economy by at least 2050.

Different countries have undertaken very different levels of planning. Some have no overall strategy for transitioning to a green economy, and only out-dated or weak pledges to reduce carbon. Enforcement or accountability can be low or non-existent, representing mere paper commitments.

By contrast, highly ambitious plans with a depth of detail and commitment are increasingly emerging and raising the bar for good policy. The challenge for many developing economies is keeping well intentioned plans up-to-date and relevant, while creating the kind of credible governance necessary to support implementation.

Policy methodology

Case Study: Sweden

Sweden is currently the strongest performer on green economy planning, with a comprehensive approach that takes seriously the idea of "greening" the whole economy. This reflects Sweden’s long history of green leadership – it introduced the world’s first carbon tax in 1991 – and its inclusive culture, where cooperation and equality help build support for environmental ambition. Rather than one green economy ‘master plan’, Sweden has iterated dozens of separate policies over time, such as electric vehicles support or the 2017 Climate Act. In this way, Sweden has prioritised flexibility, without sacrificing long-term strategic vision.

Sweden Country Profile

Case Study: France

Reflecting its centralised traditions, France’s approach to green planning has focused on a single comprehensive plan, and a powerful ministry to implement it. Building on the ambition of the Paris Agreement, France has attempted to put all the tools needed to build a low carbon economy into a single piece of legislation: the Stratégie Nationale bas Carbone. Although it has yet to set a goal for full decarbonisation (this is expected soon), France leads the world on integrating the protection of nature and biodiversity, not just climate, into economic policy.

France Country Profile