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The Poverty Reduction, Equity, and Growth Network’s (PEGNet) conference Report – 2013: “How to Shape Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Economies in the Developing World ─ Global, Regional, and Local Solutions”

von Olatunbosun Benjamin

Cross-section of participants at the PEGNet conference 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark
Poster presentation at the PEGNet conference 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark

The PEGNet Conference was held at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark from the 17th – 18th October 2013 in collaboration with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). The conference was attended by more than 70 participants from developed and developing countries as well as international organizations such as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the Zambian Ministry of Finance and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) banking group.

The PEGNet Conference had three plenary sessions and four parallel sessions. The plenary sessions featured discussions on climate finance for the developing world, addressing what is needed and how to make it inclusive.  Interesting ideas regarding pollution and possible internalization of this externality were presented by Lykke Andersen from the Institute for Advanced Development Studies, Bolivia which focused on global compensation from major polluters to low polluters. There was also a debate on the possible trade-offs between climate finance and investor / donor interest presented by Ian Christoplos of the Danish Institute for International Studies. The parallel sessions II on “Risk and Safety Nets” and “Carbon Emissions and Climate Change” were of interest to me not just because I was appointed as one of the discussants but also because of the theme’s alignment to my dissertation. In the paper presented by Mohammad Iqbal Irfany on the carbon footprint of Indonesian households (trends and determinants), he used an input-output model in combination with emission intensity and then matched it with household surveys. The results showed that high emitting sectors – such as the energy sector – and increasing household income have led to high carbon intensive consumption behavior. Thus, there is a need to promote clean energy technology and sustainability. The study from Bangladesh by M. Jahangir Alam Chowdhury indicated that access to credit also has a significant positive impact on a smallholder´s recovery from natural disaster losses. It is therefore necessary for policy makers to ensure that poor households have access to loans from the formal sector immediately after a natural disaster through innovating new loan products for poor people.

In exploring agricultural sustainability in developing countries, the parallel sessions III on “Agricultural Inputs and Technology” provided some insight into current research. Anja Faße from the Institute for Environmental Economics and World Trade in Hannover, Germany, analyzed private agroforestry’s consumption and pro-poor bioenergy’s effect on income using a social accounting matrix. Her results indicated that while smallholders were not quite sustainable regarding firewood extract, agroforestry had the highest multiplier on income (pro-poor). She therefore concluded that more has to be done to improve the sustainable utilization of trees. Wouter Zant from the VU University Amsterdam investigated the effect of organic input (sustainability) on agricultural productivity in Malawi. Under “certain conditions”, organic fertilizer is an adequate substitute for chemical fertilizer and can increase local maize production.

Finally, there was great feedback on the framework of my research on creating and adjusting current practices for both formal financial institutions and smallholders to give rise to sustainability, which may lead to innovative financial products and ease the credit constraints of participating farmers. My poster presentation and research were well received by practitioners within carbon finance. The general consensus was that current low carbon prices are detrimental to agroforestry projects, and capacity building in low-income countries regarding carbon registration, monitoring, and verification is inevitable.