World Bank reports that green growth is the only way

In a new report, released this week, the World Bank argues that green growth is “the only way to reconcile the rapid growth required to bring developing countries to the level of prosperity to which they aspire, meet the needs of the more than 1 billion people still living in poverty, and fulfill the global imperative of a better environment.”

Surprisingly relevant to Canada’s current debate over oil sands, the World Bank argues that “Over the past 20 years, economic growth has lifted more than 660 million people out of poverty and raised the income levels of millions more, but growth has often come at the expense of the environment.”  Key points highlighted by the World Bank include:

  • Rapid growth is necessary to meet the urgent development needs of the world’s poor. But growth will be unsustainable in the long run unless it is both socially inclusive and green – the latter by ensuring that the earth’s natural assets are able to adequately provide the resources and environmental services on which humans depend.
  • Inclusive green growth requires tackling political economy constraints, overcoming deeply entrenched behaviors and social norms, and developing innovative financing instruments to change incentives and promote innovation – and thus address the market, policy, and institutional failures that lead to the overuse of natural assets.
  • Greener growth is necessary, efficient, and affordable. It should focus on what needs to happen in the next five to 10 years to avoid getting locked into unsustainable paths and causing irreversible environmental damage. How will we know if we’re getting there? Green growth also requires better indicators to monitor economic performance. National accounting indicators like GDP only measure short-term economic growth, whereas indicators like comprehensive wealth – including natural capital – help us determine if growth is sustainable in the long run.

Gallon Environment Letter will provide a more complete review of this report in a future issue. You can subscribe to GEL at

The World Bank Green Growth report, together with a summary and FAQ, is available at

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