Global Perspectives | Bericht | 22. November 2021

Ingrid Hoven: “Climate protection and economic development are not mutually exclusive.”

GP Interview on the nexus of climate protection and economic growth

Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven is an economist, expert on insurance solutions as part of development cooperation, and since 2020 managing director at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). She is also part of the scientific advisory boards of the Development & Peace Foundation (SEF) and the Insurance Development Forum.

In our interview we talk about the nexus between climate change and employment and what all this has to do with good governance. The interview was conducted in German.



Read the translation of the interview here:

GPI: Ms Hoven, first of all, thank you for your time. A lot is going on right now. In the aftermath of the COP26 and over the course of the coalition negotiations, everyone is talking about climate and climate change. Despite the urgency of combating climate change, how can we ensure that previous economic development projects are continued?

Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven: Climate protection is not the antithesis of economic development, but that the two must be tackled together. There are very good approaches to this. Especially now, in the post-COVID era, many economic stimulus programmes are being launched to get national economies back on their feet. If we now use this public money in such a way that we not only create employment, but also climate-friendly and socially sustainable projects, we will have a double dividend. On the one hand, it pays into long-term climate protection, but also ensures that we manage the economic recovery. Studies, for example one done by Oxford University, show that this is possible. In the context of the last financial crisis, this study examined 700 economic stimulus measures and showed that green projects in particular had very significant employment effects, generated high economic returns and also brought long-term cost savings for the public sector. Especially now, when energy prices are skyrocketing, reducing dependencies in these areas is a smart way to go. A much more recent study on mobility transition showed that when the public sector invests in clean transport – electric mobility combined with public transport – one dollar invested can create 18 to almost 30 jobs. By contrast, when investing in traditional road construction, this amount is much lower, at just eight jobs for one US dollar. Developing countries see these figures, too. They know that a green recovery makes sense also in terms of employment. In development policy, it is now important to further empower and support countries that are embarking on precisely this path.

GPI: In our podcast, Sudanese-British entrepreneur Dr Mo Ibrahim emphasised that Africa needs jobs and investment above all. Is Africa’s future one of green economy and green investment?

Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven: Many African decision-makers have seen this for a long time and are going down this path trying to implement a green recovery model. They ask: What are the long-term measures we need in the field of environmental protection? Can that be forest protection or the protection of biodiversity? What do we need to achieve the climate protection goals in mobility and energy? And at the same time, how can we also create jobs? Because Africa is a very young continent and of course suffered a lot during the COVID pandemic. What can we do that improves the living conditions of poor and vulnerable people in particular? Such models have existed for a long time. What is thus interesting for decision-makers is to link this green transformation with the question of social justice. Bringing people who are currently left behind into the economy, into employment, into urban life. Of course, this will also strengthen the acceptance of such environmental programmes, of such a green transition process, which is necessary and indispensable for it to succeed. 60 km north of the capital of Benin is a training farm targeting women. By installing solar panels, it has not only been possible to put a water pump into operation, which makes women’s working hours much easier, but now there is also electricity and light in the evening. This is used to strengthen the training of women. Ultimately, the improved qualification of women smallholders and the sustainable supply of electricity in rural areas are crucial for the survival of these households, the women, their children and, ultimately, for rural areas and agriculture in Benin. So, if you look at what a green investment does in practical terms, you can see that it results in many positive spillovers.

GPI: Thank you for the illustrative example. We have talked a lot about climate now. In development cooperation, good governance is also a central issue. Can you imagine that the focus on climate means “climate first, good governance second”? Is that the future of development cooperation?

Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven: I don’t think so. Developing countries implementing ambitious climate protection – that also requires a certain degree of good governance and transparency. They have to disclose: Where do the funds go? Who is benefiting in the population? You can’t implement the green transformation processes against other stakeholders in the long run. You have to get the private sector on board, the decentralised governments, the municipalities, which are currently very active globally in climate protection. And, of course, the people, especially poor people. The development focus of a government, transparency in public action, ensuring that the financial flows actually reach where they are most needed, meaning improving the living conditions of poor people: All of this reaps good governance. We have noticed that if a government is not well positioned, it is very difficult to successfully implement ambitious partnership programmes in the medium term. We need stamina for what we want to tackle here. This is not a sprint; it will be a marathon. For that, we need good and resilient cooperation, trust in each other, partnerships that make it possible to learn from each other. We in Germany can also learn from transformation processes that developing countries have undergone. In any case, this requires governments that are willing to maintain and develop this partnership accordingly.

GPI: In this sense, I wish for patience and perseverance. Thank you very much for your time.

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