Environment and green economy

Environment and green economy

Environment and green economy


A healthy environment and equitable access to ecosystem goods and services are crucial for sustainable development, but they are increasingly threatened. To improve lives around the globe for the long term, we must change our relationship with the environment: growth and sustainability can go hand in hand if this imperative is met at all levels. An inclusive green economy offers a possible pathway.

A healthy environment and equitable access to environmental goods and services are crucial for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. However, ensuring that all can benefit from the advantages of an intact ecosystem constitutes a challenge in affluent and less prosperous countries alike. The EU provides comprehensive assistance to a number of developing countries that are striving to preserve the environment and unlock its potential to benefit their population.

Environmental quality is an important consideration for all, but poor communities tend to be disproportionately affected by environmental degradation:

  • The most marginalised or vulnerable groups are particularly exposed to environmental hazards at home or at work. Such hazards include air pollution, soil degradation, chemical waste, insufficient water quality or sanitation, disaster situations and unhealthy working conditions. They add to the burden of ill health caused by and causing poverty.
  • In developing countries, poor or vulnerable people are usually far more dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, health and well-being than in other countries. The activities of such communities are largely based on access to and use of natural resources and ecosystem services. However, these assets are often degraded; natural disasters are on the increase — and again the poorest are suffering most.
  • Human activities have also resulted in climate change, adding to existing pressures and presenting current and future generations with an unprecedented challenge.

To ensure that sustainable development becomes a reality for all, society must change its relationship with the environment: we only have one planet. It is possible to reconcile economic development with environmental sustainability to bring prosperity to developing countries, meet the needs of the more than 1 billion people still living in poverty, and fulfil the global imperative of staying within environmental planetary boundaries at the same time. This is why environmental integration in development is essential at all levels.

An inclusive green economy offers a pathway to sustainable development. The aim in this context is to reconfigure the policy environment to deliver better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste, managing natural resources sustainably and reducing social disparities.

The EU’s Consensus on Development, formulated in 2005, stresses the importance of sustainable management and preservation of natural resources, both as a source of income and as a means to safeguard and develop jobs, rural livelihoods and environmental goods and services.

These priorities are reaffirmed in the Agenda for Change, as follows: ‘Development is not sustainable if it damages the environment, biodiversity and natural resources and increases the exposure/vulnerability to natural disasters. EU development policy should promote a “green economy” that can generate growth, create jobs and help reduce poverty by valuing and investing in natural capital, including through supporting market opportunities for cleaner technologies, energy and resource efficiency, low-carbon development while stimulating innovation, the use of ICT, and reducing unsustainable use of natural resources. It should also contribute to improving the resilience of developing countries to the consequences of climate change.’

EU development cooperation and external assistance promote a safe, healthy and clean environment and the transformation towards an inclusive green economy by:


The EU’s development cooperation for environmental protection and the transition towards a greener economy is funded from a number of sources.

For the period 2007-13, the EU's cooperation activities supporting environmental protection and a greener economy in developing countries are financed through two types of financial mechanism:

Further funding is available from other EU sources and through other aid modalities, which notably include budget support.


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