|Frank Rijsberman Diretor-General, GGGI|
The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is an international organization dedicated to supporting and promoting strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging economies. The first international organization led by Korea, GGGI is accelerating the transition toward a new model of economic growth – green growth – founded on principles of social inclusivity and environmental sustainability. FUTURE ECO talked more with Frank Rijsberman Diretor-General, GGGI.
Would you introduce us to GGGI?
I would state that we are primarily a climate organization created together with a handful of other organizations - such as the Green Climate Fund - to accelerate transformation to a low carbon, sustainable world economy. As climate change is the greatest threat to sustainability of our time. Today that means implementing the Paris Agreement and helping our members accelerate the implementation of their NDCs, through planning and bankable projects. GGGI supports climate action in the context of transformation to a climate resilient green economy.
What does GGGI do? What are the key questions faced by governments? Do they ask GGGI when they face them and can GGGI help them?
In energy I imagine key questions are lumpy investment decisions such as new power plants - will they be coal or are there renewable answers? But in Africa another top priority is “off grid electricity” - a clear pro-poor, inclusive growth priority. Can we help governments such as in Rwanda and Ethiopia with a strategy, a technical analysis of technology options, or bankable projects to bring electricity to the other half of their countries in the next ten-fifteen years? Should we have a technology forecasting function to alert governments to the technologies that may become attractive 5-10 years from now?
For green cities there are important technical sub-sectors, from energy efficiency to transport systems, to waste management, or water and sanitation. How technical do we get in each of these? Do we have policy positions on the best transport systems to invest in given the city size and other contexts? Can we model impacts - or develop scenarios? Do we hook up African governments with waste management technologies developed in China, or the new sanitation technologies developed by my old team in the Gates Foundation? Also good to realize that in Africa the priority is often on “industrialization”, as in Ethiopia, but the issues dealt with under that label can be very close to, or overlapping with, our green city priority.
For land and water there is the obvious RED / forestry priority, but beyond that we have to be careful to define a niche for GGGI. There are some interesting synergies between energy and irrigation through solar pumps, or between green cities and water and sanitation. Beyond that I think our focus on sustainability should go beyond environmental impacts - but have a clear element that focuses on ecosystem service integrity. That is, the ability of ecosystems to maintain the integrity of their key functions and their ability to deliver services. This is an area where land and water combine, and where we should look at the key ecosystems that are important to the countries we work in. That will be tropical forests in Colombia and Indonesia - but also coastal zones in the Pacific and, again, Indonesia.
What will be GGGI’s focus?
Whatever it is we think we ought to focus on, we will need to scan the landscape - the other actors active in the same space we either compete or collaborate with - as well as the demands from our clients for our services. If we think we can identify a niche we will have to see how we can (afford to) become world-class in that area
Evidence that Green Growth works
We need compelling green growth stories based on evidence, from others or our own work, that transformative green growth is feasible and affordable in the short and medium, as well as in the long term. We need to invest more, and partner with others, to get the robust evidence that green work better than the conventional model of growth as soon as we can.
Documenting and communicating GGGI’s contribution to Green Growth by moving towards outcomes
There is an urgent need for us to further demonstrate that we deliver value for money for our investors: impact delivered per dollar invested, compared with other investment opportunities for the same development dollar. This starts with defining and measuring outcomes and impacts for GGGI as a whole, as well as for its programs and projects and documenting and communicating convincingly that we can help bring about transformative green growth at speed and at scale, that is touching millions of people in the near to medium term.
While it is very positive that much of GGGI’s work is translated into specific measurable outputs, I would like to move a step closer to development outcomes. We need to define outcomes in terms of its key components, such as growth, jobs, environment, health, and link these directly to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Defining GGGI’s specific development outcomes at the corporate level may be part of the upcoming mid-term review of GGGI’s strategy engaging all stakeholders. Once agreed, I believe these outcomes should further strengthen much of GGGI’s work.
Continuing professionalization of GGGI
GGGI needs world-class expertise, and be a highly professional organization that delivers excellent products and services. We need to invest in our ability to generate a pipeline of quality project proposals to mobilize more resources at modest overhead rates. My experience at Google has convinced me, amongst others, that creativity and innovation thrives in a climate where staff are encouraged to experiment and start new things.
Deepening our focus
GGGI has to be world-class in what it does, and therefore must be clear in what it wants to be good at. This implies focus, and in turn requires choices as to areas where GGGI wants to become world class, and where GGGI will leave other fields to our partners. While it is always tempting to grow geographically, organizationally, and in service offerings, the hardest thing for many organizations is to decide what not to do.
What is GGGI’s contribution to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals?
GGGI seeks to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Agreement through supporting all its member governments to accelerate the implementation of their Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs. For me, as new Director General of GGGI, the highlight of COP22 in Marrakech was the joint China-Japan-Korea side event, where the Ministers of the Environment of the three countries pledged to collaborate on NDC implementation, with support of GGGI. We are looking forward to active engagement with the three countries to develop and implement joint initiatives that may include Green Big Bang projects such as an Asia Super Grid, or a regional carbon market.
More generallbvy, GGGI is actively exploring the possibilities offered by Article 6 of the Paris Agreement that outline a number of mechanisms, formal and informal, for cooperation among countries.
Enhancing and supporting the collaboration between and among member GGGI states to implement their commitments to the Paris Agreement, and to achieve their SDG targets, is indeed closely aligned with the mission of GGGI. We are committed to do all we can to support these goals.
What did GGGI do at COP 22 in Marrakech?
To implement the Paris Agreement, countries must shift their economies towards low-carbon and climate resilient development pathways - what we call “green growth”. Supporting governments to do so is the business of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). At COP22 in Marrakech we organized three side-events with our partners to discuss how countries can deliver on their Paris Agreement commitments, and participate in many others.
A key challenge is, first, to make climate funding available, and second, to develop a strong pipeline of projects to deliver on the climate commitments - what we call “bankable projects”. The Paris Agreement clearly outlines that all finance flows - both public and private - must be aligned with a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. At GGGI, we assist our member governments in accessing domestic and international climate finance by building National Financing Vehicles (NFVs) and a pipeline of bankable projects to deliver inclusive, pro-poor green growth, as well as climate action.
GGGI’s first side event was aimed at sharing the organization’s experience in supporting countries, ranging from Jordan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mongolia and the Philippines to Vanuatu to develop NFVs - which are in the start-up stages. In order to increase the flow of finance to developing countries, it is critical for institutions to have the ability to manage funds, establish effective governance systems, and develop a pipeline of well-prepared projects. While we begin to see climate finance become available through organizations like the Green Climate Fund, the bottleneck is the limited availability of high-quality, bankable projects that would indeed transform economies to the green growth development path. Overcoming that constraint is the key focus of GGGI’s climate finance efforts.
All 190 countries have now set national climate targets as part of the Paris process. Through the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), countries have identified green growth as a major mechanism for delivering on the promises agreed on at last year’s Paris climate conference. Their INDCs must now be turned into solid climate investment plans that promote green growth and innovative technologies to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency, and sustainable urban development.
GGGI supports partner governments in mainstreaming green growth and climate change actions into national and sub-national economic development plans and visions. GGGI has partnered for the development of the National Green Growth Plan in the context of, for example, Jordan’s Vision 2025, the National Green Growth Plan as part of the UAE Vision 2021, and the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) for Ethiopia. All will be discussed at GGGI’s side event on mainstreaming green growth into national strategies and plans.
Last, but not least, GGGI is assisting its member governments to bridge the financing gap by designing policies, advising on projects,
and strengthening institutions within countries and among countries. We believe that collaborative projects and programs among countries on a regional basis can play an increasingly important role to implement the Paris Agreement. Therefore we are supporting collaborative partnerships among countries to speed up project and program financing and implementation.
GGGI’s third side event examined ways to bridge the financing gap and identify financial solutions for NDCs. Speakers and panelists at this event will discuss actions that need to be taken to close the financing gap between financial institutions and green growth projects in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The event will serve as a platform to share knowledge, strengthen regional partnerships, and enhance the understanding of regional financial solutions for implementing NDCs.
What is your views on cooperation between GGGI and korea?
We are aware that the government of Korea has committed to reduce its own GHG emissions, but also to trade credits. Other GGGI members are likely to be interested in such trades with Korea and we look forward to establishing mechanisms to support this.
In addition, many GGGI member countries have expressed an interest for GGGI to support them to establish a measurement, reporting and verification, or MRV, system. Korea has ample experience in the establishment of such a system, which is expertise we are seeking to share with other countries. Korean research institutes and Korean private sector companies also have developed important expertise as well as a number of green technologies that other GGGI member countries would like to have access to.
Would you like to say a few words to the readers?
We believe GGGI is well-positioned to support NDC implementation and help governments live up to their Paris Agreement commitments. To implement the Paris Agreement, and help the world limit global warming to less than 2 degrees, will require urgent action by all to transform economies towards a low-carbon, climate resilient development path - towards green growth.
GGGI will work hard to support its member governments to green their investments to deliver inclusive, pro-poor green growth, as well as climate action.
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