Green windows of opportunity in the Global South

Rasmus Lema & Roberta Rabellotti


The green transformation has profound implications for the global economy and, hence, for the prospects for latecomer development. In this paper we review the insights derived from case studies of developing countries’ green technology experience. We conduct a systematic literature review covering seven key technologies. This allows us to examine whether the green economy offers new opportunities for latecomer development and their ability to seize these opportunities. To understand how developing countries’ capacities to exploit these opportunities differ across cases, we focus on sectoral systems and, particularly, on (a) preconditions allowing exploitation of these opportunities, and (b) strategic responses of public and private actors in this respect. We identify four different scenarios: (1) effective opportunity exploitation; (2) missed opportunities; (3) active approach; and (4) distant opportunities. We conclude by assessing the options for policy to support developing countries in their efforts to encourage green development strategies, focusing on both the provision and augmentation of opportunities and construction of the requisite sectoral production and innovation systems.

JEL Classification: O14, O33, O38, Q55, Q56

Keywords: Green transformation, Industrial policy, Latecomer development, Sectoral systems, Technological innovation

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