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Accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon global economy

Accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon global economy
Jul 14, 2022

Many countries have set ambitious goals to achieve zero-carbon economies. There’s an opportunity to build back betterto focus more fully on sustainable development and create more resilient societies. How we get there includes re-thinking social and economic development, local resilience, and scalability.

Define themes that consider social and economic development

Focusing on issues that already have social co-benefits built in will result in a more holistic approach. ICF's work with UK PACT (Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions)a £260m capacity building program that assists partner countries as they accelerate their clean growth transitionsis one example.

As part of the UK PACT, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund supports low-carbon transition to greener, more resilient, and inclusive economies in low- and middle-income countries in Latin America, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Projects are designed to build capacity for climate action through targeting specific themesthey might be anything from electrifying mobility projects to nature-based solutions for challenges specific to a particular country. Project targets include:

  • climate mitigation
  • poverty reduction
  • sustainable economic development
  • gender equality
  • social inclusion
  • scalability
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Key learning:

Concentrating on themes that combine social and economic aspects early on in the process can help identify project ideas that are creative, innovative, and scalable, resulting in a more holistic vision of climate programming and helping to advance development.

Embed urban resilience into the local context

Delivering a successful zero-carbon solution means ensuring that there is local capacity to build on the initial intervention.

ICF’s work on small- and medium-sized urban centers in Nepal, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan aims to make cities healthier and more prosperous economically and environmentally.

Socio-economic development work is undertaken with a climate variability lens, demonstrating that innovations such as low-carbon transport and nature-based solutions in urban resilience programs enhance livability by improving air quality, access to water, and land use.

As an example, the Sudridh-Nepal Urban Development Program promotes local technical expertise, helping municipalities to realize their development potential by transitioning to greener, more resilient, and inclusive urban economic growth. Teams in each of the towns work closely with the municipalities under the auspices of a project office in Kathmandu.

Key learning:

Capacity building goes hand-in-hand with climate development; there needs to be local capacity—whether pre-existing or built into the project—to implement zero-carbon solutions.

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Use technology and data analysis to build scalability

Building scalability into zero-carbon programming is critical if the solutions are to have both local and global application and impact. Technology or data analysisor bothcan be used to identify the most effective interventions, and how they can be applied and scaled to other cities or regions.

ICF's Urban, Gender & Inclusion Lab is an example of this approach: data are collated to illustrate evidence of similar characteristics across cities and towns. These are analyzed geo-spatially to provide scenarios and evidence for the green and resilient development pathways implemented globally. Many urban centers can benefit, providing opportunities to scale up. The scalability of solutions comes from analyzing sound data as well as from empirical evidence.

Key learning:

The use of technology, data analysis, and empirical evidence contributes to scalability when combined with broad expertise in climate mitigation, adaptation, and capacity building. These interventions can be scaled up globally.

Together, these three insights can help governments achieve their climate goals and move the world toward a net zero economy.

Meet the authors
  1. Jennie Sloane, Senior Consultant - Energy, Climate and Development

    Jennie is an analyst with nearly five years of experience supporting clients in developing countries to address climate and development challenges through low-carbon technologies, mitigation, and resilience. View bio

  2. Ripin Kalra, Technical Director, Urban Development and Resilience

    Ripin leads our urban analytics, planning, and climate resilience work with a significant focus on nature-based solutions, sustainable food systems, urban livelihoods, and resource-efficient development. View bio