Insights from Global Green Growth Projects



By: Suhyun Bang, KGGTF 2024 Youth Intern

The World Bank specialists Inchul Hwang, Junu Shrestha, Stamatis Kotouzas, and the KGGTF Program Manager Hyoung Gun Wang participated in the Global Engagement and Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Development (GEEF) 2024 at Yonsei University on March 15th, 2024. The session began under the title of ‘SDGs Reboot: Insights from Global Green Growth Projects by World Bank and GCA,’ focusing on the essentiality of global partnerships for knowledge sharing and financial investment for green growth and to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The moderator, KGGTF Program Manager, Hyoung Gun Wang briefly outlined the endeavors of the World Bank in offering financial resources, policy guidance, and technical support for sustainable development and poverty reduction. Wang highlighted that in 2023, a total of $92 billion was mobilized through a combination of IBRD and IDA initiatives. Wang introduced the role of KGGTF in providing innovative and sustainable solutions, strategies, and investments to promote green, resilient, and inclusive development in developing countries.

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The first panelist Inchul Hwang, Senior Energy Specialist at the World Bank, initiated the discussion on achieving sustainable energy. Hwang underscored the primary challenge of implementing projects in developing countries: the lack of confidence stemming from limited successful experiences in sustainable development within these regions. Drawing from successful projects in Mongolia and the Philippines, which have contributed to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as goals number 3(Good Health and Well-Being), 4(Quality Education), 5(Gender Equality), 7(Affordable, Reliable and Sustainable Energy), and 13(Climate Action), Hwang demonstrated the hurdles in energy transition in developing countries to apply new advanced technologies. He illustrated how the obstacle remains in the adaptation of costly and complex advanced technologies, for which developing countries currently lack the requisite capacity. He urged development partners to assist developing countries in stepping out of their comfort zones by offering incremental exposure, such as pilot projects or knowledge exchange initiatives. Further, Hwang noted that the World Bank leverages its global expertise and influence to contribute to sustainable development, emphasizing the need for government regulations to launch energy efficiency with incentives, following case for these regulations to be effective.

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The second panelist Junu Shrestha, a Senior Environmental Specialist at the World Bank, discussed the role of global environmental practices in advancing the SDGs. These practices provide technical expertise to client countries, focusing on enhancing ecosystems crucial for economies, especially in developing countries. Natural resources are pivotal for job creation and livelihood improvement in developing countries. Global practices support decision-making processes related to budget allocation and environmental risk management, recognizing the intrinsic value of ecosystems. Shrestha identified challenges in developing countries, particularly in solid and plastic waste management, where policy and institutional capacities are lacking. She asserted the importance of capacity building and collaboration with other countries to bolster confidence in sustainable development efforts. Shrestha accentuated the necessity of cross-sector cooperation and collaboration between countries to achieve sustainable development goals. Overall, she displayed the complexity of these issues and solutions, advocating for collective action towards sustainable development.

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The third panelist, Stamatis Kotouzas, a Senior Land Administration Specialist at the World Bank, clarified the vital importance of land administration and tenure in facilitating green growth and achieving sustainable development in developing countries. He elucidated how ensuring land tenure security can serve as a mechanism for both mitigation and adaptation actions. Kotouzas underlined that incentivizing responsible land use can enhance natural resource management, aiding in carbon emission reduction and other mitigation efforts while also safeguarding the land rights of indigenous people and local communities. Moreover, he underscored that improved landscape regulation can foster resilient communities, mitigating climate change risks and other disasters. Therefore, he underscored the significance of acknowledging, registering, and digitizing land rights as essential factors in adaptation, as secure tenure holders are often the most vulnerable. Kotouzas also mentioned the current inefficiency and fragmentation of the land use planning system, which fails to recognize the benefits derived from mitigation and adaptation actions.

During the Q&A session, each panelist offered insights on topics relating to green growth and the SDGs. Hwang shared his perspectives on achieving various SDGs while implementing projects and expressed concerns about political polarization impacting the cost reduction trend in green energy technologies and products. He cited globalization as a driver of this trend, particularly evident in solar panels, electric vehicles (EVs), and batteries. Despite challenges, Hwang affirmed the importance of maintaining momentum and leveraging the global influence, knowledge, and financial resources of the World Bank. Shrestha reiterated the significance of government policies and emphasized that innovative ideas can be straightforward, depending on the local context. She stressed the rigorous environmental safeguards assessments undertaken for each project, considering its nature and impact on indigenous communities. Kotouzas concurred with Shrestha and underlined institutional capacity as the primary challenge in implementing strategies in developing countries. He also expressed concerns about data and information disparities between countries, highlighting the value of learning from experiences in the global South and fostering peer learning initiatives among countries.

The World Bank panel discussions at the GEEF 2024 demonstrated the interconnected aspects of environmental, social, and economic dimensions, providing valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development. Various sectors are intertwined and affect each other. Many sectors cooperate following the precedent case studies indicating the increased success rate achieved when cooperating occurs. There was a strong emphasis on the responsibility of advanced countries who have undergone affirmative development to share their knowledge to apply in a local context, supporting developing countries in realizing possibilities. Mutual sharing and learning of knowledge are crucial as understanding the local context is significant for an initiative to succeed. Applying local context to our everyday lives can create innovative solutions. As constantly highlighted, government policies and institutional capacities are significant requirements for an initiative to be implemented, proceed, and generate outcomes. Consequently, the World Bank prioritizes knowledge sharing and financial support, leveraging its global network to advance green growth and SDGs effectively.

All images courtesy of Suhyun Bang