Towards a Green Economy
Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication is a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), setting out an economic and social case for investing two per cent of global GDP to kick-start a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient green economy.
In his foreword to the report, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner explains the ambition for a global green economy:
“Such a transition can catalyse economic activity of at least a comparable size to business as usual, but with a reduced risk of the crises and shocks increasingly inherent in the existing model.
“New ideas are by their very nature disruptive, but far less disruptive than a world running low on drinking water and productive land, set against the backdrop of climate change, extreme weather events and rising natural resource scarcities.
“A green economy does not favour one political perspective over another. It is relevant to all economies, be they state or more market-led.”
Ten central sectors of the economy, where investment will shift development and unleash public and private capital flows onto a low-carbon, resource-efficient path, are identified for investment:
- $108 billion for greening agriculture, including on small-holder farms.
- $134 billion in greening the building sector by improving energy efficiency.
- Over $360 billion in greening energy supply.
- Close to $110 billion for greening fisheries, including reducing the capacity of the world’s fleets.
- $15 billion in greening forestry with important knock-on benefits for combating climate change.
- Over $75 billion in greening industry, including manufacturing.
- Close to $135 billion on greening the tourism sector.
- Over $190 billion on greening transport.
- Nearly $110 billion on waste, including recycling.
- A similar amount on the water sector, including addressing sanitation.
The report stresses that the transition to a green economy is already underway, highlighting success stories from waste management in South Korea and solar energy in Barbados to woodlot management in Tanzania and ecosystem services in Ecuador. The challenge is to build on the existing momentum for a global green economy.
The road to Rio
Achim Steiner describes the report’s context in the run-up to the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio:
“Nearly 20 years after the Earth Summit, nations are again on the Road to Rio, but in a world very different and very changed from that of 1992.
“Then we were just glimpsing some of the challenges emerging across the planet from climate change and the loss of species to desertification and land degradation.
“Today many of those seemingly far off concerns are becoming a reality with sobering implications for not only achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, but challenging the very opportunity for close to seven billion people − rising to nine billion by 2050 − to be able to thrive, let alone survive.”
Drawing on existing successes offers a real chance for a better, sustainable future:
“Rio+20 offers a real opportunity to scale-up and embed these “green shoots”. In doing so, this report offers not only a roadmap to Rio but beyond 2012, where a far more intelligent management of the natural and human capital of this planet finally shapes the wealth creation and direction of this world.”
- Green Economy: full set of resources from UNEP, including the full report, a synthesis for policy-makers, success stories and more.
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