Humanity is confronted with mounting man-made environmental crises, including global warming, depletion of soils and freshwater resources, and loss of biodiversity – mainly because the incentives that guide the way we produce and consume are not accounting for environmental costs. Incentive systems need to change profoundly to ensure that pollution is kept to a minimum, material consumption is reduced, and inputs are reused or recycled to the greatest possible extent. This change needs to happen very soon if catastrophic consequences for this planet and its people are to be avoided.
At the same time, there are social and economic challenges and aspirations. Poverty is still widespread in many countries, and even in rich nations many problems of human development remain unsolved. Thus, we need to pursue economic development and wealth creation while keeping resource consumption and pollution in accordance with Earth’s bio-capacity. This is what Green Industrial Policy is about. It builds on decades of experiences with policies for making the structure of economies more productive and inclusive, but overhauls the set of instruments to systematically redirect them towards environmental sustainability. A new report co-edited with five UN agencies provides guidance for policymakers on how to take action.