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The Inequalities-Environment Nexus

March 15, 2021 |

This paper was originally published on the OECD

Towards a people-centred green transition

The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the urgency of addressing together the dual challenges of inequality and environmental degradation. This paper contributes to the debate on the inequalities-environment nexus by analysing the consequences of the environmental degradation and of environmental policies on four well-being dimensions: health, income and wealth, work and job quality, and safety. The analysis shows that the impacts of environmental degradation tends to be concentrated among vulnerable groups and households. At the same, the benefits and costs of environmental policies are also likely to be unevenly distributed across households. In this context, policy packages for an inclusive green transition should aim at: (i) mitigating the possible regressive impact of pricing environmental externalities, (ii) investing in human capital and upgrading skills to facilitate labour reallocation, (iii) addressing systemic inequalities with sectoral and place-based policies, (iv) ensuring efficient and responsive governance. The paper concludes by highlighting the need for an effective framework to measure progress towards a people-centred green recovery, and possible areas of future work.”

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How does it connect to capitals? This paper uses the language of capitals in its discussion and suggestions for policy change, calling for an integrated approach to deliver an inclusive, just and green transition. Recognizing that the impacts of environmental degradation tend to be more concentrated among vulnerable groups, and that the benefits of environmental policies are also therefore more concentrated among vulnerable, an integrated approach enables policymakers to develop policies that not only protect nature, but also deliver positive impacts on health, income and wealth, work and job quality, and safety for the most vulnerable.

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