As current production and consumption patterns of humanity exceed planetary boundaries, many opinion leaders have stressed the need to adopt green economic stimulus policies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This brief summarises a study that developed an integrated framework to design an economic recovery strategy aligned with sustainability objectives through a multi-criterion, multistakeholder lens. Its aim was to enable decisions by policymakers through transparent processes that include both expert evidence based on quantitative open-source modeling and qualitative input by diverse social actors in a participatory approach.
We employed an energy systems model and an economic input-output model to provide quantitative evidence and designed a multi-criteria decision process in which we engage stakeholders from government, enterprises, and civil society. As a case study, we selected green recovery measures that are relevant for the European Union member state of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean and assessed their appropriateness with numerous criteria related to environmental sustainability, socio-economic and job impact, and climate resilience. The results highlight trade-offs between immediate and long-run effects, between economic and environmental objectives, and between expert evidence and societal priorities.
Importantly, we found that a ‘return-to-normal’ economic stimulus is not only environmentally unsustainable but also economically inferior to most green recovery schemes. Policy implications for Mediterranean countries, both in and out of the EU, are outlined, and the need for regional cooperation in the form of a Mediterranean Green Deal is emphasized.