COVID-19 recovery and the environment: How to seize the opportunities of ‘building back greener’?
The covid-19 pandemic has revealed – and often amplified – the vulnerabilities of socio-economic systems around the world, including in Europe. At a time when scientific calls to address the state of our planet as a matter of urgency are becoming increasingly alarming, the recovery from the pandemic offers a unique opportunity for all spheres of society to build a more sustainable, resilient future for younger generations. The EU's commitment to allocate 30% of its recovery funds to green initiatives is in line with this vision but the way political and economic action will meet this environmental ambition remains unclear.
This paper, written by Europe Jacques Delors in June 2021 for the Evian’s annual Franco-German Meeting, investigates the extent to which the national recovery and resilience plans will facilitate this green recovery and the role that business can play in this endeavour. Our analysis demonstrates that, despite public declarations, the European recovery may not be as ambitious as needed on climate change and will likely fail to address biodiversity issues. Against this backdrop, we show that a green recovery could nevertheless open-up massive economic opportunities across the European Union. A wave of measures, reforms and investments in this direction would create a unique window of opportunity for businesses to transition towards a more sustainable economic model, especially in the buildings, transport, and agricultural sectors.