OECD Green Growth Studies

2222-9523 (online)
2222-9515 (print)
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The OECD Green Growth Strategy aims to provide concrete recommendations and measurement tools, including indicators, to support countries’ efforts to achieve economic growth and development, while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which well-being relies. The strategy proposes a flexible policy framework that can be tailored to different country circumstances and stages of development.

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Green Growth Indicators 2014

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24 June 2014
9789264202030 (PDF) ;9789264202023(print)

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The OECD Green Growth Strategy supports countries in fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which well-being relies. Policies that promote green growth need to be founded on a good understanding of the determinants of green growth and need to be supported with appropriate indicators to monitor progress and gauge results.

This book updates the 2011 Towards Green Growth: Monitoring progress. It presents the OECD framework for monitoring progress towards green growth and a selection of updated indicators that illustrate the progress that OECD countries have made since the 1990s.

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  • Preface and foreword

    Green growth is about fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies. If governments are going to pursue policies designed to promote green growth, they need indicators that can raise awareness, measure progress and identify potential opportunities and risks.

  • Executive summary

    The OECD green growth indicators are organised around four main objectives: establishing a low carbon, resource efficient economy; maintaining the natural asset base; improving people’s quality of life; and implementing appropriate policy measures and realising the economic opportunities that green growth provides. Six headline indicators aim at communicating central elements of green growth in a balanced way: carbon and material productivity, environmentally adjusted multifactor productivity, a natural resource index, changes in land use and cover, and population exposure to air pollution.

  • Reader's guide

    The indicators shown in Part Two of the report build on data provided regularly by member countries' authorities to the OECD and on data available from other international sources. They were updated on the basis of international information available up to the beginning of June 2013 and on the basis of comments from national Delegates received by September 2013.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Monitoring progress towards green growth

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    • The OECD green growth measurement framework and indicators

      The OECD measurement framework organises the indicators along four areas that capture the main features of green growth: ? Environmental and resource productivity, to capture the need for efficient use of natural capital and to capture aspects of production which are rarely quantified in economic models and accounting frameworks. ? Economic and environmental assets, because sustained growth requires the asset base to be maintained and because a declining asset base presents risks to future growth. Particular attention is given to natural assets. ? Environmental quality of life, to capture how environmental conditions and amenities interact with people’s lives. ? Economic opportunities and policy responses, to help discern the effectiveness of policy in delivering green growth. Indicators describing the socio-economic context and the characteristics of growth complete the picture. A few headline indicators have been selected to facilitate communication with policy makers, the media and citizens. To improve the indicators, countries, the OECD and other international organisations work together to develop the statistical basis and put in place environmental accounts in accordance with the SEEA.

    • Green growth indicators in practice

      Since 2011, practical applications of green growth indicators have progressed. Governments use the OECD framework to develop indicators appropriate for their national circumstances and to assess the state of their economy in terms of green growth. Green growth indicators are also being integrated into OECD work, including country reviews and policy analysis. A database bringing together the indicators has been established to this end. Feedback from these applications is important to further elaborate and refine the indicator set, and to share experiences and good practices. To achieve synergies at a broader scale, international co-operation is essential. The OECD works with the Global Green Growth Institute, UNEP and the World Bank within the framework of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform to promote common approaches and advance knowledge about the measurement of green growth.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The indicators

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    • The socio-economic context and characteristics of growth

      Green growth indicators bear on the interaction between economic growth and the environment. This section provides information on the socio-economic context, particularly with regard to economic growth, productivity and competitiveness, along with key features of the labour market that are important to sustain job creation and facilitate labour markets adjustments, and with information on demography, health, education and income inequality. Such information is useful to: ?? track the effects of green growth policies on growth; ?? establish links to social concerns such as poverty reduction, social equity and inclusion; ?? interpret green growth indicators in the light of national socio-economic circumstances, and complement them with additional detail. For example, data on environmental pressures are rarely available by industrial activity, and consistent measures that combine environmental and economic information can only be constructed at the level of the entire economy. In such cases, it is important to supplement the economy-wide indicator with information on countries’ industry structure.

    • The environmental and resource productivity of the economy

      A central element of green growth is the environmental and resource efficiency of production and consumption, and how this changes with time, place and across sectors. Understanding these trends, together with the underlying factors, is an essential part of monitoring the transition to green growth. Progress toward green growth can be monitored by relating the use of environmental services in production to the output generated. Environmental services include natural resources and materials, including energy, and pollutants and other residuals with their implied use of environmental services like the atmosphere. Tracking trends in decoupling of inputs to production from economic and sectoral growth is an important focus for monitoring. Relative or absolute decoupling from a production perspective in some OECD countries can partly be offset by displacement effects, particularly when imported pollution- or resourceintensive goods or services are substituted for those produced domestically. The net effect at the global level may or may not imply decoupling. The limitations in production-based measures can be addressed by analysing the pollution generated and resources consumed from a demand perspective. The OECD Green Growth indicators in this area focus on: ?? Carbon and energy productivity, which characterises, among other things, interactions with the climate system and the global carbon cycle as well as the environmental and economic efficiency with which energy resources are used in production and consumption, and which informs about the results of policies that promote low carbon technologies and cleaner energy. ?? Resource productivity, which characterises the environmental and economic efficiency with which natural resources and materials are used in production and consumption, and which informs about the results of policies and measures that promote resource productivity and sustainable materials management in all sectors. Important resources and materials include mineral resources (metallic minerals, industrial minerals, construction minerals); biotic resources (food, feed, wood); water; and nutrients, which among other characteristics reflect interactions with nutrient cycles and food production systems. ?? Environmentally adjusted multi-factor productivity to give a more complete picture of the productivity of an economy by accounting for inputs from natural resources and for the generation of pollution. Other issues of importance include consumer behaviour, household and government consumption patterns, and societal responses. Examples of related response indicators are given as complements to illustrate their link with environmental and resource productivity indicators.

    • The natural asset base

      Natural resources are a major foundation of economic activity and human welfare. Their stocks are part of the natural capital and they provide raw materials, energy carriers, water, air, land and soil. They support the provision of environmental and social services that are necessary to develop produced, human and social capital. The extraction and consumption of resources affects the quality of life and well-being of current and future generations. Natural resources differ in their physical characteristics, abundance and value to countries or regions. Their efficient management and sustainable use are key to economic growth and environmental quality. The aim is to optimise the net benefits from resource use within the context of economic development by: - ensuring adequate supplies of renewable and non-renewable resources to support economic activities and economic growth - managing environmental impacts associated with extracting and processing natural resources to minimise adverse effects on environmental quality and human health - preventing natural resource degradation and depletion - maintaining non-commercial environmental services. Progress can be monitored by looking at stocks of natural resources and of other environmental assets along with flows of environmental services, and by using indicators that reflect the extent to which the asset base is being maintained, in terms of quantity, quality or value. The main issues of importance to green growth include: ?? availability and quality of renewable natural resource stocks, including freshwater, forests and fish ?? availability and accessibility of non-renewable natural resource stocks, particularly mineral resources such as metals, industrial minerals and fossil energy carriers ?? biological diversity and ecosystems, including species and habitat diversity and the productivity of land and soil resources.

    • Environmental quality of life

      Environmental outcomes are important determinants of human health and well-being. They demonstrate that production and income growth may not always be accompanied by a rise in material well-being. Degraded environmental quality can result from and cause unsustainable development patterns. It can have substantial economic and social consequences, from health costs and lower labour productivity to reduced agricultural output, impaired ecosystem functions and a generally lower quality of life. Environmental conditions affect the quality of people’s life in various ways. They affect human health through air and water pollution and exposure to hazardous substances and noise, as well as through indirect effects from climate change, transformations in water cycles, biodiversity loss and natural disasters that affect the health of ecosystems and damage people’s property and life. People also benefit from environmental services, such as access to clean water and nature, and their choices are influenced by environmental amenities. The main aspects of importance to green growth include: ?? Human exposure to pollution and environmental risks, the associated effects on human health and on quality of life, and the related health costs and impacts on human capital. ?? Public access to environmental services and amenities, or the level and type of access various groups have to environmental services such as clean water, sanitation, green spaces and public transport. Indicators on these aspects can be complemented with information on people’s perceptions about the quality of their environment. They should be read together with other quality of life and well-being indicators.

    • Economic opportunities and policy responses

      Governments play a key role in fostering green growth by creating conditions that stimulate greener production and consumption through economic and other instruments, by encouraging co-operation and sharing of good practices among enterprises, by developing and promoting use of new technology and innovation, and by increasing policy coherence. The main challenge is to harness environmental protection as a source of growth, international competitiveness, trade and jobs. Businesses have an important role in adopting greener management approaches and new business models, developing and using new technologies, carrying out research and development (R and D) and spurring innovation. Business, government and civil society also contribute by giving consumers with the information needed to make purchasing choices that reduce the environmental impact of consumption. The main issues of importance to green growth dealt with in this section are: ?? Technology and innovation, which are important drivers of growth and productivity in general, and of green growth in particular. They are important for managing natural resources and raw materials and minimising the pollution burden. Innovation can spur new markets, contribute to job creation, support shifts towards new management methods and facilitate the adoption of co-operative approaches and the diffusion of knowledge. ?? Production of environmental goods and services, which are an important aspect of the economic opportunities that arise in a greener economy. ?? Investment and financing to facilitate uptake and dissemination of technology and knowledge, foster cross-country exchange of knowledge and contribute to meeting development and environmental objectives. ?? Prices, taxes and transfers, which provide important signals to producers and consumers. They serve as tools to internalise externalities and influence market participants to adopt more environment-friendly behaviour patterns. Ideally, indicators regarding economic instruments should be complemented by indicators on regulation. However, data availability and comparability of regulatory measures across countries hamper the construction of such indicators. The indicators here can also be complemented with indicators on international trade as a source of economic opportunities, including green growth opportunities. Since trade in green products is only a small part of this, however, no specific trade-related indicators are put forward here. General indicators on international trade and competitiveness can be found in the section on the socio-economic context.

    • The OECD set of green growth indicators
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