Compatible or contradictory? The challenge of inclusive structural economic and environmental transformation

Working and discussion papers
October 2016
Anna Mdee, Richard Emmott and Alberto Lemma

Multiple transformations are being sought in our societies in the face of the accelerating risk of climate change and the need to eradicate poverty. This paper sets out to explore current evidence and debate on structural economic transformation and environmental (green) transformation in relation to the eradication of poverty. These transformations underpin the critical foundations of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. The fundamental question is how to reconcile economic development with the consequences of exploitative natural resource use, and at the same time address poverty and inequality.

The aim of this paper is to identify areas of contradiction between these agendas, as well as areas of (potential) compatibility. These areas of compatibility offer potential gains in all areas at once, and therefore present attractive win-win solutions. On the other hand, the contradictions highlight potential trade-offs that will require resolution.