Green Growth Leaves Room for Improvement
By Leah Lombardi
After a day trip to Lake Como this past weekend I was struck by the extravagant gardens of Villa Monastero in Varenna. For a country that embraces its natural wonders, beautiful coastlines, and rich soil, with hundreds of Renaissance botanical gardens, Italy has faced a number of environmental issues. In order to address pressing environmental concerns, Italy joined the Green Growth movement in 2012 hoping to use economic policy to solve both economic and environmental problems. Five years into Green Growth, and has anything really grown?
Green Growth is a knowledge platform founded by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Programm (UNEP), and the World Bank. The Green Growth Knowledge Platform acquires data information for participating UN nations that are seeking to better their environments through economic policies. The Green Growth platform guides participating countries by the Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations.
A 2015 report on the general state of Italy’s Green Economy demonstrates significant environmental progress since 2012. Firms are classsified as either “Core Green” or “Go-Green”. Core-Green means the firm buisiness has low environemental impact, or their activities are environmentally focused. The “Go-Green” firms are those businesses that have committed themselvves to environmental improvement. While the report details the significant environmental progress Italy has made, the economic progress has not been as strong.
Increased environmental policies regulating businesses have only contributed to a small amount of growth in the most skilled and techonologically advanced sectors. This small amount of growth amongst firms developing clean and renewable energy sources has done little to help the economy as a whole.
While environmental progress has been impressive over the past five years, the economic growth has been dismal. Italy is in a period of stabilizing their economy, not growing. If the past five years of economic activity have shown anything, it is that the great regional dispairties between Northern and Southern Italy, as well as issues of education and poverty have not and will not be addressed with environmetnally concnerned economic policy.