The OECD and WWF hosted a series of high-level dialogues on a green and resilient recovery from COVID-19. After three successful events, they were joined by the Environmental Defense Fund for a second series focused on a green and healthy recovery. 

A myriad of studies and webinars have highlighted the importance of aligning COVID-19 recovery packages with social and environmental objectives. A green recovery would offer economic returns on government investments, generate growth and create jobs. It would also put the world on track to more healthy and sustainable future, reduce the risks of future pandemics, improve our public health and environmental outcomes and put the world on a much-needed pathway towards net-zero emissions.

The high-level virtual dialogues aimed to address specific bottlenecks, mechanisms and institutional arrangements that facilitate the recovery while increasing decisive climate and nature action.

The second series focused on health and the environment. The dialogues aimed to provide insights and some specific examples of institutional and financial investments to inform short and mid-term decision-making by governments and key stakeholders. These conversations aim to inform policymakers as they move forward with recovery policies, and as well as influence delegations for ongoing international processes including the SDGs, biodiversity and climate change COPs.

Aligning NDCs with a Post-COVID-19 World

In recent months, many studies and webinars have highlighted the importance of aligning COVID-19 recovery packages with climate and environmental objectives. A green recovery should not only offer local public returns on government investments, but should also put the world on track to a much-needed pathway towards net-zero emissions, helping to avert future economic and social shocks from climate change.

It is imperative that we make this possible. Countries' Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are not currently consistent with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. As governments consider their revisions to NDCs ahead of COP26, they have an opportunity to make increased ambition part of a people-centered economic recovery strategy.

Several governments have already presented or are preparing new or enhanced NDCs and long-term Low-Emissions Development Strategies, making it clear that climate action and enhanced ambition is possible and necessary despite the economic and health crises.


Opening remarks: Masamichi Kono

Deputy Secretary-General, OECD

Acting now for a green recovery

Laurence Tubiana

CEO, European Climate Foundation

The importance of NDCs in 2020 and links with the COVID-19 recovery

Simon Buckle 

Head of Climate, Biodiversity and Water Division, OECD

Can we integrate climate action and recovery?

Roberto Esmeral

Vice Minister, Ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development, Colombia

Aligning recovery with more ambitious NDCs: Insights from Colombia

Moderator: Manuel Pulgar-Vidal 

Global Leader of WWF's Climate and Energy Practice

Nature-Based Solutions as a Force for a Green and Resilient Recovery

Nature-based solutions (NbS) harness the power of ecosystems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also help us adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce biodiversity loss. They are solutions that involve protecting, restoring and sustainably managing ecosystems to provide economic, social and environmental benefits.

Recently, both public and private institutions and the international community have begun to seriously consider nature-based solutions as an important component of responses to the interlinked biodiversity and climate challenges, while providing concrete economic and social benefits to local stakeholders.

Large-scale restoration of degraded ecosystems, protection of critical ecosystems under threat, development of green infrastructure in rural and urban environments, and better management of protected areas, provide many societal benefits, including increasing resilience to climate change impacts and improving public health. In addition, recent evidence suggests that reforestation and habitat restoration could indeed be effective ways to generate “shovel-ready” jobs, which will be crucial in the economic recovery and rehabilitation from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are NbS being considered by decision-makers as part of the recovery measures from the COVID-19 crisis? What NbS interventions can help to most effectively drive growth in jobs and incomes? Are there short, medium and long-term trade-offs we should consider?


Opening remarks: José Ángel Gurría

Secretary-General, OECD

The relevance of nature in a post-COVID society

Opening remarks: Guy Ryder

Director-General, ILO


Karin Kemper

Global Director, Environment Practice, World Bank

Multilateral development and nature-based solutions

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez 

Minister of Environment, Costa Rica

Nature-based solutions in national recovery packages: Insights from Costa Rica

Kobie Brand

Regional Director: ICLEI Africa & Global Director: ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center

Urban NbS and their relevance in the recovery: Insights from South Africa

Rodolfo Lacy

Director, Environment Directorate, OECD

Nature and jobs resilience

Moderator: Manuel Pulgar-Vidal 

Global Leader of WWF's Climate and Energy Practice

Webinar 2: Summary and Recording

Unleashing the Potential of Finance to Green the Recovery

The COVID-19 recovery is bringing to the forefront fundamental questions about the role of governments in managing systemic risks and building resilience to such risks – not only pandemics, but also climate change and biodiversity loss. Governments with long-term vision can adopt a green recovery approach in order to direct and encourage investment in the economy to change the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions growth and to support investment in natural capital in order to make ecosystems and societies healthier and more resilient.

For example, finance ministers from 52 countries have committed to the Helsinki Principles which talk explicitly encourage incorporation of climate change in fiscal policies, working towards reducing fossil-fuel subsidies and internalising carbon pricing. Now is the time to put these principles into practice.

Multilateral organisations, such as the OECD, have a role to play in providing guidance (and in the case of international financial institutions, assistance) to rebuild for resilience. 

We asked our speakers:
  • How do the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 and the resulting increase in fiscal spending affect financial flows and expenditures for sustainable development in emerging and developing economies?
  • How can we ensure that green and sustainable finance continues to be seen by governments (including finance ministries) as an urgent priority during and following the COVID-19 recovery?
  • What levers can finance regulators, policy makers and international development institutions use to ensure that we not only rebuild for resilience but leap-frog existing technologies and mainstream sustainability?
  • What is the role for private financial institutions to ensure we rebuild for resilience?


Keynote: Bill Morneau

Minister of Finance, Canada

Masamichi Kono

Deputy Secretary-General, OECD

Martin Spolc

Head of Sustainable Finance, European Commission

Eric Usher

Head, UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative

Moderator: Margaret Kuhlow

Finance Practice Leader and Acting Global Conservation Director, WWF

Webinar 3: Summary and Recording

Related Resources

Clear Skies to Clean Air

The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically exposed the unhealthy and unsustainable relationship among the environment, society and economics. While still confronting disease containment and potential vaccinations, governments are considering reform and economic stimulus measures that are unprecedented in scale. It is imperative that the world not return to business as usual, and that we work to rebuild healthy, sustainable and equitable societies.

As part of the “Green Recovery Dialogues” webinar series on a green and resilient recovery, the OECD, WWF and the EDF collaborated to deliver a series of high-level dialogues on health and environment. These conversations aim to explore the challenges and opportunities for integrating health and environment considerations onto the rebuilding process at local, national and global scales, including policies and financial instruments that incentivize healthier and more equitable, low carbon economies.

It has been widely reported that air quality in cities around the world has suddenly improved due to quarantines — but it was only temporary, and the reopening of economies means the return of air pollution from vehicle traffic and commercial and industrial activity. Our goal must be clean air with prosperity.

Air pollution, of course, varies greatly from place to place. Low wealth communities and communities of color experience a greater burden from pollution because they’re more likely to be situated near or downwind of refineries, ports, highways and other sources of unhealthy emissions.

A green recovery would offer economic returns on government investments, generate growth and create jobs. It would also put the world on track to a more healthy and sustainable future, reduce the risks of future pandemics, improve our public health and environmental outcomes and establish us on a much-needed pathway toward a 100% clean future.

The question in front of many governments, businesses and civil society is what policies and investments are needed to ensure a healthy, sustainable recovery that builds resilient, equitable societies.


Opening remarks: Rodolfo Lacy

Director for the Environment Directorate, OECD

Daniel Calleja Crespo

Director General for Environment, European Commission

Karin Kemper

Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice, World Bank

Claudia López 

Mayor of Bogota, Colombia

Shirley Rodrigues

Deputy Mayor of London for Environment and Energy

Moderator: Sarah Vogel 

Vice President for Health,
Environmental Defense Fund

Human Health and Resilient Food Systems

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global humanitarian and economic crisis that has also exacerbated the stress on global food systems. Essential measures to limit the spread of the disease have inevitably had an impact on the movement of people and products. But even before the pandemic, global food systems were faced with a formidable array of challenges that need to be addressed simultaneously: providing food security and nutrition to a growing global population; ensuring the livelihoods of millions of people working along the food chain from farm to fork; and ensuring the environmental sustainability of the sector.

With the world’s population projected to reach almost 10 billion in 2050, a significant increase in the production of affordable, healthy and nutritious food is required, along with a close examination of consumer food choices to improve health and well-being through balanced diets. At the same time, global food systems are not only dependent upon sustainable natural resources, but are also responsible for the vast majority of global land and water use, place significant pressure on biodiversity and ecosystems, and are an important source of greenhouse gas emissions.

How food systems absorb, recover, adapt and transform in response to the dramatic short-term shock of COVID-19 will shape their level of resilience and their ability to deliver on the longer-term challenges. In general, countries’ policies in this regard remain weak in overall terms. Investments are desperately needed to improve the resilience of food systems, not just in relation to COVID-19, but also to the multitude of shocks that can affect the food system from health, climate and other environmental emergencies. Critically, there is a need to ensure that short-term response measures during the crisis reinforce, rather than undermine, long-term goals of resilient, sustainable and productive global food systems.

The objective of this dialogue was to explore this complex web of issues through an interactive discussion with a number of high-level experts. The key question confronting the panel was “How can recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic help shift the global food system towards greater resilience and more healthy and nutritious diets for a growing population, while ensuring sustainable livelihoods and reducing environmental impacts?”


Agnes Kalibata

UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for 2021 Food Systems Summit & President, AGRA

Francesco Branca

Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, WHO

Lee Ann Jackson

Head of the Agro-food Trade and Markets Division Trade and Agriculture Directorate, OECD

Suzanne Gaboury 

Chief Investment Officer at FinDev, Canada

Diane Holdorf

Managing Director, Food and Nature, WBCSD

Moderator: João Campari 

Global Food Practice Leader, WWF International

Building a Nature-Positive Economic Recovery

The world is facing one of the worst social and economic crisis since the Second World War; this has been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic which in itself is the result of increased stress to natural systems from climate change, poor management of natural areas and increasing consumption and trade in wildlife (zoonotic origin). Not facing these causal factors will condemn us to repeat this terrible experience.

This crisis is an opportunity to direct the trillions of dollars major economies are infusing into key sectors of the economy worldwide, to nature neutral and desirably nature-positive measures that simultaneously reverse nature loss and boost an economic recovery for the long-term.

A few countries are actively considering nature as part of their recovery plans; the EU Recovery package (Next Generation EU), Germany’s Greenest Stimulus Plan, France, UK and Canada, but the majority of governments that have announced economic packages are directing resources to sectors and / or activities with a large and lasting negative impact on nature; and some weakening their environmental regulations.

The world needs to learn lessons from this crisis and build a nature-positive economic recovery based on placing nature at the center; committing to “do no harm”; creating green and sustainable jobs; linking the economic recovery to countries’ climate commitments; relying on the best science; and taking a whole-of-government approach that considers social and environmental factors alongside economic ones; among others avenues. The objective of this dialogue was to discuss how to make the economic recovery a nature-positive one.


Opening Remarks: Teresa Ribera

Vice President, Government of Spain & Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge

Alicia Bárcena

Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Professor Patricia Balvanera 

Co-Chair, Values Assessment, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

Gabriel Quijandría

Vice Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Peru

Moderator: Shardul Agrawala 

Head of the Environment and Economy Integration Division at the OECD Environment Directorate

Series 2, Webinar 3: Summary and Recording