In facing the challenges elaborated here, a range of governments, civil society, private sector actors and development partners have created approaches that integrate environmental sustainability and equity and promote human development— win- win-win strategies. Effective solutions must be context-specific. But it is important, nonetheless, to consider local and national experiences that show potential and to recognize principles that apply across contexts. At the local level we stress the need for inclusive institutions; and at the national level, the scope for the scaling up of successful innovations and policy reform.
The policy agenda is vast. The Report cannot do it full justice— but the value added is in identifying win-win-win strategies that demonstrate success in addressing our social, economic and environmental challenges by managing, or even bypassing, trade-offs through approaches that are good not only for the environment but also for equity and human development more broadly. To inspire debate and action, we offer concrete examples showing how the strategy of overcoming potential trade-offs and identifying positive synergies has worked in practice. Here, we present the example of modern energy.
Energy is central to human development, yet some 1.5 billion people worldwide— more than one in five— lack electricity. Among the multidimensionally poor the deprivations are much greater— one in three lacks access.
Is there a trade-off between expanding energy provision and carbon emissions? Not necessarily. We argue that this relationship is wrongly characterized. There are many promising prospects for expanding access without a heavy environmental toll:
Global energy supply reached a tipping point in 2010, with renewables accounting for 25 percent of global power capacity and delivering more than 18 percent of global electricity. The challenge is to expand access at a scale and speed that will improve the lives of poor women and men now and in the future.
A broader menu of measures to avert environmental degradation ranges from expanding reproductive choice to promoting community forest management and adaptive disaster responses.
Reproductive rights, including access to reproductive health services, are a precondition for women’s empowerment and could avert environmental degradation. Major improvements are feasible. Many examples attest to the opportunities for using the existing health infrastructure to deliver reproductive health services at little additional cost and to the importance of community involvement. Consider Bangladesh, where the fertility rate plunged from 6.6 births per woman in 1975 to 2.4 in 2009. The government used outreach and subsidies to make contraceptives more easily available and influenced social norms through discussions with opinion leaders of both sexes, including religious leaders, teachers and nongovernmental organizations.
Community forest management could redress local environmental degradation and mitigate carbon emissions, but experience shows that it also risks excluding and disadvantaging already marginalized groups. To avoid these risks, we underline the importance of broad participation in designing and implementing forest management, especially for women, and of ensuring that poor groups and those who rely on forest resources are not made worse-off.
Promising avenues are also emerging to reduce the adverse impacts of disasters through equitable and adaptive disaster responses and innovative social protection schemes. Disaster responses include community-based riskmapping and more progressive distribution of reconstructed assets. Experience has spurred a shift to decentralized models of risk reduction. Such efforts can empower local communities, particularly women, by emphasizing participation in design and decision-making. Communities can rebuild in ways that redress existing inequalities.