Green Economy - A Sustainable Concept?

In the context of the Green Economy Initiative, the Environmental Program of the United Nations (UNEP) defines green economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” Thus green economies are not based on the demand for sacrifice, but on the idea of qualitative growth, where low-carbon and environmentally friendly technologies, as well as international cooperation in this area play a key role. While the emergence of worldwide markets of green technology and products are seen by some as an opportunity, others fear a new, green protectionism and that the Green New Deal will cement the North-South dependency given highly different economic performance and innovation.

Against this backdrop, six international young professionals explore the chances and limitations of the concept of Green Economy.

picture-of-Stella Paul

Stella Paul 

is an Indian environment and development journalist. She has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature and a Post-graduate diploma in Environmental Law.
picture-of-Marioliva González

Marioliva González 

is an environmental activist and founder of GYAN Mexico. She studied International Relations at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Méxicon.
picture-of-Hariyadi

Hariyadi  

holds a degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Public Policy. He works as Research staff at the Indonesian House of Representatives, Jakarta.
picture-of-Ravi Kant Tripathi

Ravi Kant Tripathi  

is a law graduate from the National Law University in India and is currently pursuing his Master studies at Berlin School of Economics and Law.
picture-of-Rwatirinda Mahembe

Rwatirinda Mahembe  

is Founding Director and Legal Adviser to Zimbabwe Association of Displaced Workers.
picture-of-Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Catarina Faria Alves Silveira  

works at the environmental department at Central Única dos Trabalhadores (Unitarian Workers Union, CUT) Brazil.

Paper von Stella Paul


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Green Economy: A Sensible Option, but not a Miracle

Stella Paul

With the Rio+20 Earth Summit merely a few weeks away, ‘Green economy and inclusive growth’ – the core agenda of the summit – is fast becoming a buzzword in India. In fact, post a lull that followed the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in December 2011, there is a renewed enthusiasm over a green economy and its potential role in a better future for India.

At a glance, India has a great profile for building a low-carbon, green economy. It is, in fact, currently rated by Ernst&Young the fourth most attractive country for renewable energy investment. The country also has the world’s second largest pool of scientists and engineers which has instilled confidence in the global investors looking for safe investment destinations. Also, India’s achievements in information technology, professional services and communications in the past decade all added to its profile.

The stronger argument, however, is that India can’t afford not to move towards a green economy. The traditional form of economy has so far helped India perform well in the economic sector and amass wealth, but failed to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, increasing industrialization has led to an increasing number of conflicts of different types. The most alarming of them is the conflict between farmers/forest dwellers and industrialists, especially the miners. This conflict has strengthened violent rebellions like the Maoist uprising which is now officially the biggest threat to India’s internal security.

If these are not enough reasons, the Climate Disclosure Project says that if the current business as usual scenario on climate continues, then, by 2100 India’s GDP growth will be around negative 9-13 percent. This will be caused by the impacts of climate change affecting business and livelihood.

Obviously, this isn’t the desired future path for an emerging economic power. A path leading to sustainable development, therefore, is the urgent need of the hour for India.

Besides, India also currently has nearly 50 million unemployed job seekers. Shifting to a greener economy will provide an opportunity for job creation in all sectors and all companies. This, in turn, will mean revamping India’s education system to make it more practical and suit each industry. The current education system in India is often criticized for being too ‘certificate oriented’ rather than focusing on skill building – a reason why every year half a million youths graduate in India, but only a few thousands possess specific skills to match the needs of the job market. The flawed education system is also a reason why many new initiatives – such as disaster management – fail to take off as there is acute shortage of skilled manpower. The government, however, has recently started addressing this; it has just drafted a law called National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER) Bill. The bill aims to allow high education institutions to design their own curriculum in order to get a skill-oriented focus. It is now expected that a shift towards a green economy will encourage the government to further reform the education system, even at the regional and local levels.


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Also, the level of environmental awareness will be raised, thus leading to the drafting of new legislations to support the environment. For example, India has just drafted two new legislations on mining (The Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Bill 2011) and land acquisition for industrial development (The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011) which are results of this increased environmental awareness.

However, despite these high expectations, it would be naïve to think that an enthusiastic participation in the Rio+20 conference or active engagement of its agenda alone will propel India into the league of developed nations.  The reasons are simple: green economy is but a greener option, but not a magic wand. And for India, where more than 300 million people live below the poverty line and where over 50 percent of the population does not have access to safe drinking water, medical care and basic amenities like toilets, the main challenge is not the development of a concept, but rather its systematic implementation at the ground level.

One example of this is India’s solid waste management (SWM) sector. According to the Government of India, urban India produces over 115,000 mega tons of solid waste each day. Currently there is a nationwide effort to better manage this waste and the government has roped in several private sector companies who have an impressive pool of SWM experts. On the national level, the whole effort is focused on keeping the country clean and green, while generating jobs. Yet, at ground level this has threatened the livelihood of at least 15 million poor people who make a living by recycling the waste, but are not recognized for their skills. This is a case where the concept of green economy and inclusive growth is failing to tackle poverty or unemployment because there is no holistic approach to its implementation.

This holistic approach is also something emphasized by Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, who recently visited India: “By definition, sustainable development is about integration among the three pillars: social, economic and environmental and ensuring their consistency. But in practice, this is not easy because our problems and challenges do not specialize. At Rio+20 there is a need to practically bring these three pillars together, so countries are confident that the social agenda, the environmental agenda and economic agenda are mutually reinforcing.”

Zukang also drew attention to another crucial point: the obvious discord between the ‘global north’ and the ‘global south’ which still persists – a reason why the consensus that the countries reached on sustainable development 20 years ago, is yet to be fully realized.


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Fortunately, the government of India is thinking along the same line.

At a recent press meet in New Delhi, Indian Minister for Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, stated that while India was highly interested in the issue of green economy and inclusive growth, three factors would be crucial for the agenda to work well on ground. These are: a. reaffirming the Rio Principles, b. striking a balance between the three pillars of sustainable development by building institutional capacities at all levels – global, regional and local and, c. prioritize programs for the inclusion and betterment of socio-economically weaker sections of the society. Also, according to the minister, if Rio+20 is to work, nations must work together.

The minister’s statement sums it up well for India: the country has a high level of interest and a need for a green economy, yet it should be realistic about how that might unfold on the ground. For example, India has apprehensions about the final outcome of Rio+20. It worries that developed countries may try to rewrite and renegotiate the Rio Principles, especially the principle of ‘common, but differentiated responsibilities’ (CBDR), which would be unacceptable for India. It also worries that developed countries may try to impose tariff and non-tariff barriers on exports of developing countries, aid conditionalities and refuse to change their current consumption patterns, which India considers crucial for developing countries to achieve sustainable growth. But most important of all, at this moment, India isn’t fully certain that a green economy will have absolutely no adverse impact on the livelihoods of its vast poor population. This is why India is strongly demanding that poverty eradication should be the overarching objective and the benchmark of the green economy approach, and that countries should have the sovereign right to define their paths towards sustainable development based on their national circumstances and priorities.

Clearly then, green economy , at this point, is the most sensible way forward for India, but not a miracle in itself.

Kommentare zum Paper von Stella Paul

Kommentar von Stella Paul

Kommentar von Marioliva González

Dear Stella:

 

The biography about India that you described in your paper is very interesting. It is a shame that RIO+20 just did not reach an ambitious goal for the "future we want" and focused all their efforts on Green Economy. The final declaration is just a bunch of good intentions without no clear way to move forward .

 

It is a good news that the India´s fear , according to your paper, did not become reality , and the Rio Principles be reaffirmed , "including, inter alia, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, as set out in principle 7 of the Rio Declaration", Now it is up to every country to define their policies and i read that the President of India and the Mexican President make an statement together just to reaffirm the need of an economic green growth just few days after Rio+20, in the G20 Conference, also sharing India´s knowledge on renewables. How India figuring it out the way to grow while including poor , youth, women and enviroment? ¿there is any public and local policy to develop into Sustainable Development or Green Economy Concept? In Mexico with our change of goverment in the next year this is not clear enough, and also , here was more important the G20 conference ( mostly because was held in Mexico, and Mexico had the Presidency) than Rio+20.

Kommentar von Hariyadi

Dear Stella,

I do agree with you Stella that good and (of course) clean governance is nonnegotiable agenda for every government particularly those of developing countries. What I wanted to emphasise is that to achieve that, we can't do it overnight. Let's see how developed countries develope their democratic system in their political arena. Normatively, what you have replied to my previous comment is absolutely correct. Somehow, I think it is something as general secret that the way developed countries 'impose' their best practices of good governance towards developing countries sometimes not without a guinine intention. Let me give you one example, 'efficiency' is closely related to the good governance issue. The efficiency in the public sectors, among other things, can be followed-up by, say in the manpower issue, oursourcing method. What would happen if this is applied blindly in the populous countries like ours where every people need a (secure) job though insufficiently paid. Second example can be seen in the case of mining foreign investors doing their business in developing countries. When the host country tries to impose a new policy to adjust with the greeny policy of the government, the investors often react overly and reject the policy. What happens then, home country of the investors sometime lobby the host country to scrap any policy which is not suitable with their interests. In short, it is not always that imposition of good governance towards developing countries merely based on the need for good governance issue itself. Even the green economy is also seen as new method of barriers by developed countries. This though of course can be debatable BUT this is not something bad at all...

Kommentar von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Dear Stella, It is very impressive to find you recognising the underlying link between eradicating poverty (read social development) and present day green economy debate in the context of India. Indian government regularly slams “weak” political will in developed countries to provide developing nations with enhanced means of implementation of objectives of Green Economy. At the same time there is an urgent need of adopting a holistic approach to achieve sustainable development in the country. In the case of India it has been unable to incorporate sustainable development into their national policies. A clear example is the water sector that treats the resource as a mere economic good. This along with challenges in form of unemployment and a rampant unorganised sector makes the country an ideal case among developing world. It is pertinent to identify what is Green for itself and allow the realization at the local level. Indian villages for instance that are still home to more than half of its population are missing from the efforts. The Indian cities are regularly struggling with issues like Solid waste management (SWM) as highlighted in your paper. To sum up, the road to an effective Green economy has to take in account the grim social realities else it will be mere policy eyewash. Indians has to utilize its advancement in IT sector for developing a robust Green setup. While doing that we have to ensure that community participation became the key stakeholder in developing world. You have been successful in highlighting the role of education and awareness which is one of the ways ahead to counter growing consumerism in the rapidly expanding Indian cities. The road to protect our natural resources requires collective action by other most valuable resource (human resource) which has an abundance supply in India. The present financial fiasco may just provide the perfect opportunity to reform the economic model for sustainable development.

Kommentar von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Stella, your paper did foretell ‘the three-day summit as dead on arrival’ but places India at the winnowing epoch of the ‘brown economy’. However it is the health lens of green economy and sustainable development which is strident in its defiance campaign by requiring phyto-green economy and sustainable development instruments that can uproot the unsustainability status quo in the Indian structural change era. But the functionalistic education model must be replaced by the Marxian model in the GE and SD skills development to cater for the poor. This requires state directives informed by its intrinsic social development priorities, focusing on grassroots green economy survival initiatives and inclusive interventions. Such interventions must be anchored on the three pillars of sustainability that can give effect to grassroots-driven solidarity economy or agro-ecological activities informing the policy makers, with the later giving the policy space for such initiatives. Multi-level political statutory interventions must be emulated anchored on the common but differentiated responsibilities principle. Without new trade barriers or new aid conditionalities for developing countries while developed countries significantly change their production and consumption patterns at the same time allowing the former to continue with their developmental paths towards green economy as per individual countries’ priorities. This position is also shared by Zimbabwe and its civic society and must have cleared the uncertainty in green economy and sustainable development negotiations at RIO + 20 had the government negotiators from 193 nations been faithful to each other. This was to be expected because the climate crisis to be rectified now is a product of capitalist commodification of nature and the solutions proposed by governments are an extensive commodification of nature, hence the crisis cannot be solved through capitalistic rhetoric.

Kommentar von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Paper von Marioliva González


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The Green Economy: A Wasted Opportunity?

Marioliva González

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein

 

Twenty years ago, governments agreed to implement a development model that takes into account the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social, and environmental – through the Agenda 21 action plan. Almost twenty years later, the patterns of production, consumption and accumulation still have not changed, resulting not only in an increase of poverty, unemployment and inequality, but also leading us to the dangerous limit of environmental collapse.

Despite the urgent need for action, the impetus to tackle environmental issues has been vague in recent years. Many of us thought that at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in 2009 a legally binding agreement with specific goals would be achieved. However, in a context of global crisis, and with a concept of development based on economic growth, the negotiations were unsuccessful, or worse, flourished only with regard to market-based tools which would allow to continue operating within the "business as usual scenario". As a result, the current environmental negotiations at almost every level are focusing on achieving minor successes, which often only means poor progress towards the so called “shift of paradigm” that is becoming increasingly urgent. Thus, the creation of political conditions which would ensure development opportunities for future generations – and in fact, even for this generation – is currently highly unlikely.

 

Mexico and the Green Economy

Despite the fact that in some countries of Latin America, the Green Economy concept is further discussed, for Mexico´s government, the discussion of this concept does not make a breakthrough in negotiations, which is why it has focused more on seeking consensus in general terms than pressing commitments.

Actually, the Mexican government and UNEP are working on a report on the Green Economy in Mexico , to be launched at the Rio+20 conference, which exemplifies that Mexico does not only discuss the concept, but is willing to apply it,  as has been proposed by UNEP.

Mexico has made efforts to keep an image of waving the green flag around the world, and has earned reputation as a good facilitator of the climate negotiations, after its role in the Presidency of the UNFCCC COP16 in Cancún in 2010. On this, several international players at all levels have stated that the way Mexico conducted the  negotiations  helped to safeguard the multilateralism that had been lost a year earlier at the COP15 in Copenhagen.


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One major criticism that Mexico has had is that the instruments of which it has been the biggest promoter – the Green Fund for Climate and REDD+ – are not designed to go beyond a "business as usual scenario", and, for example, in the case of REDD+, monitoring and measurement needs further development, as well as mechanisms addressing the imminent vulnerability of indigenous peoples to land privatization. It is also worth mentioning that this is an ongoing debate even within the Mexican civil society.

Also this year, Mexico chairs the G20 and will host the Leaders’ Summit just a few days before the Rio+20 conference. As part of the Mexican presidency of the G20, the concept "Green Growth” has been included in discussions as a way to open new markets and opportunities, although with a voluntary scheme with only vague concepts such as the use of "clean energy" instead of "renewable energy"; "green jobs" instead of "decent green work"; and also “best use of climate-resistant seeds" instead of “non genetically modified seeds”.

In recent discussions, it has become clear that the concept of “green growth” does not have a common definition accepted by the G20 members, but it is understood that “green growth” is the path on which to reach sustainable development, some even declared that “green growth” means sustainable development as such. The main issue here is that it is not clear how “green growth” benefits the poor and improves their quality of life. So, green growth – but for whom?

In this regard, some countries in Latin America – such as Bolivia and Ecuador – strongly promote the concept of "good living" or Sumak Kawsay, which seeks to abandon the prevalent concept of "development" based on economic indicators such as GDP and to develop a system that seeks an equilibrium where everyone can lead a decent and happy life by covering their basic needs.

 

The Green Economy Concept

UNEP (2011) defines Green Economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. Hence the concept itself takes up the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental –, but does not provide a new approach or point of view.

Several authors consider the Green Economy concept a step towards Sustainable Development, which so far failed to be accomplished mainly because the economy had no interest in environmental matters. Others in turn believe that after 20 years, focusing on a single pillar concept would seem a major setback, which not only represents a break with the paradigm of Sustainable Development, but can also be understood as a way of perpetuating the very system that has led us to this environmental and social crisis.

I believe that the second option is more accurate in the sense of the need to break with the prevailing paradigm as soon as possible, because we cannot grow without limits on a finite planet. It is therefore necessary to count the externality costs in a different way, as Georgescu Roegen proposed, with the generated entropy of the production and consumption cycle revealing the need to consume less, to degrow, and to save more energy.


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Based on the idea of "growth without polluting", UNEP defines the green economy concept in macroeconomic terms as “one whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. These investments need to be catalyzed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes. This development path should maintain, enhance and, where necessary, rebuild natural capital as a critical economic asset and source of public benefits, especially for poor people whose livelihoods and security depend strongly on nature.” (UNEP 2011)

Thus, from a social perspective, the concept is limited to income growth and employment as a necessary factor of production without considering the social dimension of health, education, or equity, among others. Although the concept includes the issue of employment, this issue should therefore be reviewed from a social perspective, and the ILO has suggested including the term "decent work" in this part of the definition.

Moreover, by talking about “investments” as a core driving force of the concept, it reveals that it continues to be based on the nature of capitalist accumulation included in the term, i. e., a production-consumption model which still has the same goal: to produce more, and to create more needs to consume more. It is right on this issue where I see the need to understand that economic growth is not necessarily a synonym for development, not even in the global north, where it’s impossible to decouple growth from development.

Also, through ideas such as “producing more with less”, the green economy concept refers to energy and resource efficiency as a means to reconcile the capitalist production-consumption model with the environment, but the overall point is that in reality, the planet can no longer sustain these patterns of consumption.

Finally, the concept of green economy does not say how increased production and efficiency will change the poverty situation in the world, or will ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth, education, and equity. Neither does it identify the relevant actors. So, it is understood that green economy seeks to perpetuate the economic system that – with its logic of unlimited growth on a finite planet – has almost led us to ecological and social collapse.

Ultimately, the Green Economy concept needs to look for other ways of accounting for costs in production and consumption based on the idea that the planet is finite, that development and the economic system are concepts that must be developed locally and nationally, and acknowledging that societies can live modestly, dignified, just and happy on the basis of the concept of "good living" as Sumak Kawsay defines it, instead of "living well" as the “American way of life” imposes, covering basic needs without producing or consuming more.

From my point of view, the better use of natural resources is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition to achieve sustainable development. The green economy concept should effectively pursuit an idea of society’s welfare that does not depend on a continuous increase of production and consumption. Focusing only on reducing carbon emissions and pollution without thinking of any change to the production-consumption status quo, equals thinking that everything is perfect and we only need to find the way to keep doing the same things, but in a less polluting way.

 

Literature:

UNEP (2011): Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication – A Synthesis for Policy Makers; available at: www.unep.org/greeneconomy (last accessed on 3.5.2012).

Ulrich Hoffmann (2011): Some reflections on climate change, green growth illusions and development space. UNCTAD Discussion Paper No. 205, December 2011; available at: http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/osgdp2011d5_en.pdf (last accessed on 3.5.2012).

Serrano Mancilla Alfredo and Martin Carrillo Sergio (2011): La Economía Verde desde una perspectiva de América Latina, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung/ILDIS Ecuador , 2011; available at: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/quito/08252.pdf (last accessed on 3.5.2012).

Eduardo Gudynas (2011): Buen Vivir: Germinando alternativas al desarrollo, in: América Latina en Movimiento, Nº 462, February 2011, pp. 1-20.

Kommentare zum Paper von Marioliva González

Kommentar von Stella Paul

Dear Marioliva

Of all the points you made here, one thing made me particularly worried: promotion of genetically engineered seeds in the name of fighting climate change. It is a dangerous trend that puts both the economy and biodiversity at stake. In India, for example,a number of rice varieties are currently in different stages of genetic engineering. Some of them are said to be drought-resistant, while others are flood resistant. The danger, however, is that, the ultimate grower - the farmer - has absolutely no idea what is an GE rice and what's not. So, when and if the rice is allowed for cultivation (presently India doesn't allow GM food crops), will he have the time or the knowledge to safeguard his traditional varieties before opting for the GM crop? Will he ever know what's at stake (use of more herbicide, pesticide and fertilizer) and the risk of buying the seeds that are patented?

This is just one example. There are several others. But I would end with this comment: rephrasing or smart phrasing terms cannot help us attain true green growth, no matter what the area is. Also, spending millions on seeds that may or may not be allowed for use by a nation is a huge, cruel gamble. That fund can instead be used in exploring traditional and locally devised solutions to problems including natural disasters.

Kommentar von Marioliva González

Kommentar von Hariyadi

I have to appreciate Stella and Marioliva for their call on how we should look at the concept of green economy by recalling back to a laying spirit when the concept was initially raised. Three vital elements of the green economy concept are now still viewed as not mutually reinforcing since the global governance seems to be focused on how to merely generate economic added-values rather than on the other two aspects. We agree that economic growth becomes the engine of the global prosperity through which in particular social needs aspect can be pursued. However, until recently we also agree that the world still sees the conventional economic growth as unchallenged as a means to fulfill the high global consumption rate particularly in the industrial nations. The reasons are quite clear, political economy of any nations as whole where economy is a comand in such a way that like a human being, states are no difference with an ‘economic animal’ where rationalism always puts the economic development the first. As such, social and environment dimensions would be at risk then. Conceptually, various scientifically practical ideas and policy related debates have come up with the resolutive policy options on how to reconcile the situation. Thus, Their assertion on the need to focus on the systematic implementation of the concept of green economy at the ground level and poverty eradication efforts shall be the ultimate outcome and the benchmark of the green economy is entirely understood. However, looking exclusively at the social dimension to be the centre of excellence of the concept would disregard the essential need for the survival of all nations. As demography inevitably grows, economic development is in turn a must. Thus, we have to see economic development, and social and environment needs in this case becomes two sides of the same coin.Yes, to make a fairer balance between the three components is not an easy job. Thus, political breakthrough among states to enable such a balance is very challenging. As it is also underlined in Marioliva paper that incrementalism in the decision-making processes in the global governance regime has resulted in slow progress in seeking consensus on pressing commitment. This is, I would say the paradox of the modern global governance regimes in the sense that while there is awareness of the pressing global problems among the global political players but too little political will is given to solve them. In this regard, I do agree that a fairer and more assertive global governance regime in the efforts to make the balance and/or systematic implementation of the green economy at the ground level is now determining the credibility of the concept.

Kommentar von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Kommentar von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Marioliva decries the absence of a global governance system with binding rules to enforce agreed principles on green economy and sustainable development in the greening developmental thrust. This is leading to market dictation accompanied by its illusory pro-green-economy and sustainable development developmental model which not only disservice the current but future generation. She correctly asserts that green economy and sustainable development discussions are not making a breakthrough, a situation that has become the norm with the international state system in this perspective. Hence Mexico is seeking consensus in achieving good living than the current GE pressing matters. This is a fore-ward looking step provided it is an inclusive and bottom-up process. If it is a top-down, then the ‘good living’ will be a dream-pie in the air for the poor people. From my observation, the author fears that this GE structural change might be a process of greening capitalism since capitalism is so resilient that it can be packaged and repackaged in different forms, in this case through the ‘green deal’ or green economy a ‘twin sister to the Washington consensus’. It is true that the negotiations are flourishing only towards icing the ‘brown economy’ with a green colour to give an illusory participatory model but in effect giving a blind eye theory to an other-minded perspective – that is feeling or having empathy for others already sinking and sunk under the onslaught of capitalism. Hence the green economy facilitative instruments are failing to go beyond the "business as usual scenario". This is an indicator to the lack of political will in the greening process and implementation of national sustainability goals. Hence the concept of ‘good living’ must be a bottom-up agenda like any other pro-poor developmental initiative. This will be a mechanism of addressing the some challenges like ‘vulnerability of indigenous peoples to land privatization’.

Kommentar von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

As mentioned on text and although I completely agree that patterns of production and consumption are still rising: it does not have a necessary link to poverty aliviation (I mean: consumption does not lead to poverty or unemployment – or quite the opposite so it would be interesting to further expand comments on how we can overcome the challenge of new pattern of production and consumption that addresses poverty.

Maybe we could say: PCS have not changed. We have the 10 year work programme developed by UN CSD still to be implemented. And we are on verge of environmental collapse. And at the same time, we face major crisis of unemployment. And poverty, and natural and economical wealth distribution. Oxfam has an interesting discussion on planet boundaries that perhaps we could include as reference for further reading.

Author also comments on green Green growth – asking to whom this growth will be (line of thought that I agree with). I would like to add that countries have been reluctant to debate what a green economy (green economies could be) however, they are replacing for green growth instead…But isn’t more interesting/useful to discuss Green economy or economy concept that leads to sustainable development instead of only keep on using same line of thought and action of liberalism and believing that growth will lead to wealth distribution and development.

Author than spoke about weakness of this new concept or weakness of discussion – to which I would like to add: We are Just changing names and concept. The same paradigm of capitalism is present. That leads to wealth concentration and not distribution. And on a reference to ILO requests to include decent work on the agenda of green economy I would like to emphasize that strong work also taken by trade unions on this and on to include social dimension as well as principles of this economy.


Paper von Hariyadi


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Green Economy: A Sustainable Concept and its Development

Hariyadi

The idea of a green economy is a relatively new concept in Indonesia. However, as an approach to development processes, it has become an integral part of the Indonesian politics of development since the 1980s, particularly in the context of sustainable development policy (Act No. 4/1982 on Basic Provisions for the Management of the Living Environment). By referring to UNEP’s definition of a green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, Indonesia has projected the green economy on its development efforts in the future.

The preamble paragraph of the Environmental Management Act emphasises that with regard to any efforts to make use of natural resources for the welfare of the people, the government is responsible to maintain a sustainable and balanced environmental capacity to support sustainable development, which is to be done comprehensively and integrally and taking into account the interests of the current and future generation (Art.1). The same accentuation is given in the amendment of the Environmental Management Act (the Act No. 23/1997) and finally by the Act No. 32/2009 on the Protection and Management of Environment. As an integral and indivisible concept, it is in line with the current so-called pro-poor, pro-job, pro-growth and pro-environment approach to national development.

How, then, do we see the green economy paradigm from the perspective of national sustainable development? As previously mentioned, this paradigm has close linkages with that of sustainable development.  Art. 1 of the Act 32/2009 defines sustainable development as conscious and planned efforts integrating environmental, social and economic aspects into a development strategy to ensure the viability of environment, safety, capacity, welfare and a qualitative life for the current and future generations.

As green economy is dedicated to consider the importance of its three components, let us take a look at the Indonesian global commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20 percent with national efforts alone or by 41 percent with international support by 2020. The GHG emissions reduction requires low carbon development. This reflects that, from the legal perspective of our national politics of development and the Indonesian global commitment, the green growth strategy nowadays increasingly becomes a driving engine for the national development of Indonesia.


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However, the concept of green economy should be seen as something dynamic, meaning that the basic ideas of the concept must be continually adjusted to the fast changing situation. Normatively, green economy is aimed to achieve a qualitative economic growth where low-carbon and environmentally friendly technology allow for the protection of the environment. But more importantly, green economy also requires effective and cooperative global governance measures. Should global governance measures in this area fail to timely and effectively prevent climate change risks and solve the issues of global poverty and social inequity, the concept will be viewed as no more than just a new non-tariff barrier to global trade. In this regard, the green economy concept should, among other things, also be focused on how to postpone or halt the use of resources to generate a blind economic growth. As a consequence, as consumption becomes the central domain of the growth machinery, more global commitments and actions to reduce the rate and style of global consumption are needed. This seems to be very challenging, since the global criticism that the green economy paradigm might be used as a justification for countries – particularly industrial countries – to launch a new protectionism and apply certain conditionalities to the global trade might pose a serious constraint to the institutionalisation of the paradigm. Nevertheless, as long as the global community has not established any other concerted environmentally friendly economy paradigm, the implementation of the green economy paradigm is something which is no longer questionable. For while the globalised economy, and consequently the conventional mode of economic growth, has degraded its very central components –  namely, the environment and natural resources – at a pace which is no longer tolerated, global poverty and social inequality continue to run rampant.

Thus, the green economy paradigm must be seen as a concept which is “amazing” on paper, but too dilemmatic to implement due to the fact that global efforts to balance the three closely connected constituent parts of the paradigm – economy, social development and environment – remain to pose a serious challenge in the global economic context. Under this situation, the green economy concept still owes a convincing answer as to how to generate economic growth while assuring the protection of the environment. As indicated, global governance efforts to tackle environmental, social equity and poverty issue have not fully been based on a concerted and comprehensive global regime. Given the lack of capacity to enforce climate justice, developing countries’ claim to the right to development, the slow progress in the global negotiations to pass comprehensive legal instruments for the resolution of those issues and the high costs developing countries must bear to implement green economy measures, several social parameters embedded in the green economy paradigm are still far from being met.

For the time being, democracy is believed to be the best form of political governance. Since democracy puts first the inclusiveness of the political decision making processes, it is important to also consider the degree to which the planning, implementation and evaluation of the green economy is performed in a democratic way. Under the current global political constellation and in the global governance context, it is becoming increasingly important where the global decision making processes take place, and by whom, when and how global issues of common interests are defined. What is crucial, therefore, is that the global economic and political regimes become more transparent and inclusive, thus making sure that processes decided within this context do not continue to be dominated by a few major countries.


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Considering the above analysis, let me present the following policy recommendations:

  1. The green economy paradigm can be an important instrument to synergize an increase in global social equity and welfare with the reduction of environmental risks. To this end, however, the paradigm requires strong political commitment at the local, national and global level. On the local and national levels, the political commitment can be measured by the legal frameworks of the local and national government development policies, while at the global level, the establishment of a progressive global regime to implement the paradigm is needed.
  2. Industrial countries must engage in more initiatives to balance the obligation to solve global issues of common concern and interest. Their playing a more active role in the resolution of those matters becomes a pressing issue, as it would contribute to shift any possible conflict between developing and developed countries into a global alliance to implement the idea of a green economy.
  3. The right to development remains a crucial issue for developing countries. Therefore, a stronger political commitment from developed countries to make qualitative development processes possible in the developing countries will be vital to enable a mutually constructive cooperation between both groups of countries. The principle of common but differentiated responsibility is still crucial in this case. 

Kommentare zum Paper von Hariyadi

Kommentar von Stella Paul

Dear Haryadi, you raised an important point about countries retaining their right to development. India has the same position on that. However, I would like to also point out the fact that the countries also need to wake up and accept the fact that not all of them are showing fine example of a strong government – which is an absolutely important component to sustainable growth.

In fact it is this very fact – poor government, weakened or a failed political system, combined with high corruption – that also makes the countries like yours and mine be questioned on their capability of attaining true growth. To elaborate it a little further, the donor countries (in other word, developed nations) are now demanding that they be shown a sign that the receiver country is capable of handling the fund for true development. This might appear bullish at the first glance, but can we actually blame them for being so, when we ourselves have not been able to curb corruption or well-utilize the fund received?

So, good governance is nonnegotiable. And, until the developing countries are able to take care of their messy state of socio-political/economic affairs, the developed countries will not stop the pressure to tweak them, not when the latter are having economic slowdown themselves.

Kommentar von Marioliva González

Kommentar von Hariyadi

Kommentar von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Kommentar von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Kommentar von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Paper von Ravi Kant Tripathi


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Rio+20: Furthering Sustainable Development for Inclusive Green Economy

Ravi Kant Tripathi

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.”

Gandhi

 

Introduction

The last century witnessed the plundering of our natural resources at a pace like never before when growth was achieved at tremendous costs to environment, equity and justice. The consequences of Globalisation - with expanding production and consumption - have not only resulted in overwhelming destruction of our environment, which include air, water and soil pollution, but has also led to the commodification of the natural commons and public environmental goods and services.  The world community, when finally confronted with the challenge of climate change, started to shift efforts towards creating a more sustainable planet and bringing down carbon emissions. The upcoming 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) will discuss what is now called the 'green economy', a follow-on concept from 'sustainable development'. A consensus is growing around the fact that in a resource- and carbon-constrained world, transition to a Green Economy is required to enable the process of sustainable development. The major challenge is to find ways as to how the “green economy” will lead to models of production and distribution that will help the human being without affecting the planet. The two main themes that will be analyzed during the Rio+20-conference are the “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”; and the “institutional framework for sustainable development”.

With the world facing a capitalist crisis, the Rio+20-conference is plagued with both risks and opportunities. The first Earth Summit in 1992 produced results in form of the Agenda 21, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversion (CBD), the Forest Principles, the Rio declaration defining widely accepted principles such as the precautionary principle, and established a process allowing meaningful civil society engagement – all under the banner of ‘sustainable development’, standing on its three pillars of environmental protection, economic development and social development. This time, the main theme is "Green Economy," a new tag that preserves the ideology of the prevailing development model, based on economic growth that feeds unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines a green economy as one that results in “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. Thus it gives the impression of an economy that is environmentally-friendly and sensitive to the need to conserve natural resources, that minimises pollution and emissions during the production process, and promotes environmentally-friendly lifestyles and consumption patterns. Yet in fact, the gradual move from the much acclaimed concept of “sustainable development” at the first Earth Summit to that of a “green economy” at the upcoming Rio+20 is no less than a fundamental alteration in the approach towards equal resource distribution and adherence to the right to water recognised by the UN. Several approaches to Green Economy put a focus on


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mere resource use efficiency and economic growth, which parallels a global trend towards the promotion of policies that will treat water primarily as an economic good at the cost of water as a fundamental right. There is a vibrant and well-connected global water justice movement that won the right to water and sanitation and the need is to further press for the full implementation of these rights, but due to lack of effective regulatory safeguards and frameworks the corporate interests are pushing down the local communities through instances like water grabbing. For instance, Green Economy shall promote water privatisation in urban areas on the pre-text of higher efficiency, which will once again marginalize the poor.

The green economy is not a theoretical concept. But the usefulness and appropriateness of green economy as a paradigm for furthering sustainable development is still debated among various circles. It remains a “challenge” for developing countries like India because of its high costs and technical expertise involved. Still, the elements of a transition to a Green Economy are clearly emerging across developing and developed countries alike. In such case it is pertinent that any approach to create a green economy must be linked to the strengthening of social inclusion and the eradication of poverty in these regions. In India for instance, it is an opportunity to reinforce the countries’ poverty eradication and social development agendas, including through enhancing food security and energy security of the poor.

 

The conundrums of turning Green and rising Greed

The concept of a “green economy” is neither a mere redefinition of, nor is it supposed to replace sustainable development, but according to UNEP, “there is now a growing recognition that achieving sustainability rests almost entirely on getting the economy right”. There is a growing fear, however, that this new “green economy,” which is being promoted by the multinational corporations, international institutions and national governments, identifies growth as the primary driver of environmental change and development. Local communities and Trade Unions, among others, raise doubts about whether the framework can produce the profound energy transformation needed or whether it is just a new “Green Deal” of the global powers. Key concerns include financing of a green and fair economy, new forms of conditionality and protectionism, threats to food security from biofuels, and the commodification of nature. The green economy might provide cover for unjustified protectionist measures and the structural change in terms of a drop in the production and trade of environmentally damaging goods might be a setback for some economies. Trade unions have already expressed their fears, claiming the inclusion of the agenda of decent work in the creation of new “green jobs” that can be dirty, dangerous and difficult. At the same time, the concept argues a case in favour of integrating environmental benefits in the world market economy. Green economy – if properly planned – offers the means for restructuring the economy in a way that can deliver adequate results.  Therefore, it is necessary to identify how the transition will be managed and which principles will guide action. In this sense, it needs to be secured that green economy  per se becomes a fairer, pro-poor or pro-decent jobs economy.


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The Way Ahead at Rio

The benefits, risks and challenges associated with the transition to a green economy make a strong case for international cooperation to help ensure that the opportunities are exploited and the risks minimized. Any national or global initiative to create a sustainable world economic model has to recognize the social realities we face today. Since green economy does not evoke a classic North-South divide - with lines of conflict cutting right through the usual “blocks” of industrialised and develoving countries -, there is a wider scope of using policy space to address problems and maximize the positive aspects of the green economy. Though there are different views among developing and developed nations on key areas like finance, Governance and technology sharing, the major disagreements are on how to make a swift transition of the respective own economy. Some industrialised countries face direct competition from developing nations, while others prefer to co-operate due to existing economic relationships. Among developing countries, the emergence of BRICS has different significations for LDCs and African nations. All in all, nations will weigh Green Economy with their own economic agendas, which means that the alliance between nations and actors has to be a coordinated approach seen as a “global common good” that promises growth for future generations without commodification of biodiversity. This is possible through a framework that allocates environmental benefits and costs fairly to achieve a more just and equitable society. Any proposed measure has to be based on equity between nations and societal redistribution. A fair transition to the green economy requires the international community to support vulnerable economies in coping with the difficulties of green structural change. For most developing countries the costs of adjusting to a green economy are higher relative to their fiscal situation, their technical capacity to steer adjustment in their own economic sectors and their access to affordable and adaptable technologies. The Green Economy also needs to be inclusive of gender equality, youth and informal workers. In order to become an engine for development and poverty eradication, it needs to generate decent jobs. While assuring the social protection schemes, the proposed framework must enable nations to promote democracy through increased social dialogue and public participation in the region. There must be a clear strategy to measure the potential social impacts of Green Economy and to ensure a key role of social policies and institutions for facilitating transition. There is also potential for the green economy to create negative impacts without any protectionist intent, but simply through structural change. The economic and social progress depends on the state’s natural resources and effective policy measures are required to prevent environmental degradation. This requires recognizing that co-operative global action is essential to halt environmental destruction and social inequality at the local level.

The institutions established to encourage and oversee the shift to sustainable development need to cooperate and not compete. The institutional framework should integrate the environment, society and economics in a holistic yet flexible way. A new effort to mobilize private capital and more public funding in support of Green Economy is vital to ensure that such initiatives have social protection programmes with clear criteria for ecosystem restoration (like the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme in India). On the international side, better cooperation among nations is needed in areas like trade and technology transfers with capacity building are clearly essential. The Rio+20 and relevant UN Conventions such as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity should carry out an inclusive process to develop a set of sociocultural and economic criteria before developing any international, regional or national mechanism for the implementation of any future green initiatives. Furthermore, the Rio+20-conference must develop social standards which must be complied by any green initiative in order to be implemented at local, national and international levels to protect community right to water and food. It is pertinent to ensure that the poorest benefit from and are supported through the transition to a green economy in the developing countries. Developing states should be allowed to first take positive action to protect the environment without bearing an additional cost for their leadership. Some countries are already moving aggressively to transition from an industrial economy to a new type of knowledge based economy. While the rest begins to reshape their development strategies and practices accordingly, the challenge for the international community is to work towards making this transition accord, to the greatest extent possible, with the principles of equity and sustainable development. This way the proposed Green Economy can turn out to be a sustainable and just economic system for environment protection, human development and poverty eradication.

Kommentare zum Paper von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Kommentar von Stella Paul

I can’t agree with you more on the current, disturbing trend of commodifying nature, instead of focusing on sustainable management of natural resource. Not only this is a wrong way to think about bringing in sustainable development, but also a quick way to create new socio-political conflicts that also causes irreparable damages to the democratic process.

The trend is especially visible in countries such as ours (India) that are emerging economies. To give an example, the government of India is building a multipurpose mega dam in a valley in its north eastern region. The dam, when completed, will be India’s highest and will produce 2000 MGW of electricity. Now, if you look at it technically, this is clean energy (hydelpower), and it’s coming from a region that is sparsely populated.
But a deeper look will reveal that the villages that will be submerged by the dam are populated with indigenous forest dwellers. Their rehabilitation cannot be completed by mere land allocation in an alternative location, for the loss is far too greater. They have no written history and oral cultural practices are all they have. These practices are impossible to continue without the proximity to the river and the forest they have lived in. If we ignore this need as a too trivial, tomorrow the generation of these cultural refugees will be a disgruntled group, calling for a political rebellion, which in turn will create economic blockades (in fact we already have this happening).

This, however, isn’t happening only in India; during last UNFCCC Summit (Durban, Dec’11) I met with a number of indigenous people’s groups from several Latin American and South East Asian countries who presented similar cases. And each of those areas already has an armed rebellion going, which does weakens the local government.

But returning to where I began, we must go beyond the ‘have resources, will use’ policy. We need to do a true cost analysis and a loss assessment, taking into account all the humane factors. Without that, green growth will remain a sham and far from ‘inclusive’ of all.

Kommentar von Marioliva González

Kommentar von Hariyadi

Kommentar von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Kommentar von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Kommentar von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Paper von Rwatirinda Mahembe


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The Green Economy and Sustainable Development: Market’s Failures in Correctional Phase

Rwatirinda Mahembe

The concept Green Economy (GE) is still rudimentary in Zimbabwe. An illusory top-down greening approach can be observed, though supported actors from NGOs, the media, and UN‑agencies, but trade unions have offered less aggressive efforts. The poor and rural communities are in the dark. The country has weak inter- and intra-sectoral greening co-ordination and limited resources for “adaptations and mitigation programmes”.[1] Transitionally, Zimbabwe is lagging behind. A bottom-up and top-down democratic participation model is posited.

UNEP defines GE as one which “results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.[2] The concept marks a paradigm shift from the “brown economy” that excludes Sustainable Development (SD), which is achievable only under economic structures that ensure resource and energy efficiency along with environmental revitalisation. Defining “a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” as one of its two focal themes, the Rio+20-conference inextricably links the GE-concept to SD. The concept is aimed at reviewing and operationalising of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992, specifically the Rio Principles and Agenda 21. The UNCED framework recognises environmental and sustainability dimensions with intergenerational equity, while sustainability or SD is anchored on environmental protection, economic and social development - hence the need to “get the economy right.”[3]


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Green Economy and Sustainable Development at National and Global Level

Many Zimbabwean policy makers have “no common understanding or appreciation of the concept”, and it is “quite new in many ministries.”[4] Concomitantly, Zimbabwe is greening its economy, but it is yet to prepare its paper for Rio+20.[5] It has set up institutions and task committees assigned with GE projects. Furthermore, UN agencies, NGOs, professional associations and independent media – not the trade unions, though – have offered considerable contribution. Yet despite such endeavours, SD remains underdetermined. Since UNCED 1992, not much progress has been made to change the unsustainable status quo. An elitist policy has seen resources being channeled to goods and services affordable for the rich while poor people still have no access to basic commodities and services. Thus, Zimbabwe needs to aggressively increase and widen access to information, to raise public awareness, and to educate its stakeholders, community and policy makers, followed by financial re-distribution for SD objectives to be met. As resources are depleted to serve the elite under the ‘indigenization and economic empowerment’-drive which is also partisan, it is urgent that a bottom-up top-down democratic process begins that includes stakeholders, the community and professionals informing the policy making process with wider downward consultation by the policy makers.  The absence of social inclusivity in policy-making plugs out the concept of sustainability and democratic participation, while lack of participation by trade unions flies in the face of their claim for “not only green but good jobs”, which negatively affects democratic participation possibilities which enable communities to speak for themselves and engage in ‘democratic self-determination’. For all this, embracing a bottom-up and top-down GE and SD transition is pertinent in achieving social justice. Here, the GE must be operationalized in the environment, development and equity dimensions, and thus be integrated in the framework of SD. This requires both national and international approaches.

Nationally, a democratic inclusive approach is pertinent which must overcome the untransparent, undemocratic and hierarchical status quo. The greening of institutions must be a professional, well-funded, democratic, transparent and political process. The state must play the central role with regard to social investments, while the private sector should be guided by national priorities instead of mere self-related interests concerning their own competitiveness. The state must ensure that expenditure on environmental unfriendly activities must be reduced for more friendly ventures. At the international level, full embrace of GE and SD is required with attendant regulations that respect the “common but differentiated responsibility” principle. The North is the heavy polluter and must pay for the South’s greening process. This also applies for economic re-balancing and financial redistribution to curb transitional crisis. Public sector infrastructural investments should provide basic needs to the poor. The state must embrace SD in principle and practice, designing regimes protecting the environmental value with the poor in mind, and using measures such as pricing, taxes and subsidising to limit natural resource degradation. It must assure rural areas the right to basic livelihoods under a clean environment and “food security” and resuscitate subsidies destroyed by former “economic structural adjustment programmes while at the same time, the North needs to reduce its agricultural subsidies.


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Green Economy: Pros and Cons

The transition to GE can however be misconstrued as purely environmental-focussed or as a “one size fits all”-approach that treats all countries the same and can be trade protectionist and mercantilist, with products subsidised by the North flooding the South under loose regimes, thereby suppressing the promotion of local GE sectors that will not be able to meet export requirements in the North. Furthermore, it can create new conditionalities for North to South aid. So holistically embracing the UNCED Rio principles and agenda 21 is crucial to ensure that the social and equity dimensions are respected and that the economy serves environmental needs. Current economic policy fails to ensure intergenerational equity. GE, on the other hand, – though it can lead to slower economic growth in the first instance – leads to fast economic growth in the long run while reducing climate change catastrophes, energy shocks, water scarcity and loss of ecosystem services. Moreover, GE is labour intensive, so it creates jobs, and provides communities with sustainable livelihoods. Thus it eradicates poverty.

 

Green Growth Strategies

Schumpeter popularized the term “creative destruction”, meaning that every economic development will grow out of the destruction of old structures. This will also be true for the transition to GE. It has become compelling to “secure an economically efficient shift to a greener economy” through policies that aid “reallocation of factor resources from less to more natural resource efficient” green economic activities. Typical policy measures are “market and regulatory environmental policies” to address competition and its “impacts on income and equality”.[6] Such policies must facilitate the “entry of new firms and the exit of firms in declining industries”, minimize job losses by assuring “re-deployment of labour to new firms and industries”, and increasing social protection. They also need to facilitate a reallocation of decent jobs, concurrent with human skills development. At the same time the transition must provide aid for structural change adjustment costs. Encouraging new green entrepreneurship is vital, as efficient entrants need to replace less efficient ones, which requires removing restrictive measures such as high administrative costs of start-ups and punitive approaches towards bankruptcy. Zimbabwe’s infant biofuel plant, its rural electrification program and reforestation exercise as well as the communal farmers’ shifting to bee keeping and being forests guards must be correlated with fiscal support nationally and internationally. For these and others are new entrepreneurships that create employment and sustainable livelihoods for rural communities.    

 

Domestic and International policy Recommendations

As asserted by UN-DESA, UNEP and UNCTAD (2011), developing global institutions that “increase international cooperation and collaboration on research and development” is vital. Investment-led production activities, agricultural transformations, and a strong technological policy supporting the “adaptation and dissemination of green technologies” is vital as well as treating green economic activities as “infant industries” that need support. This entails reverting to fiscal subsidy facilities to social investments formerly dismantled by the World Bank and International Monitory Fund’s Economic Structural Adjustment Programs. Furthermore, the current global investment policies must be corrected through fresh agreement anchored on acceptable best practice. This includes “pricing policies, taxes and subsidies to limit pollution and emissions” and control of “over-exploitation of natural resources and making prices better reflect environmental values, as well as mainstreaming environmental criteria in government procurement policies”.[7] In order to avoid penalizing the poor on essentials, these measures have to assure differential pricing of public goods. Both national and global policies should establish sound investment frameworks by prioritizing state investment and “spending in areas that stimulate the greening of economic sectors”, while reducing expenditures that “deplete natural capital”. At the same time, applying taxes and market-based instruments to change consumption patterns along with an active promotion of greening innovations becomes pertinent, as well as strengthening the transparency, accountability, and democratic character of global governance structures.[8] This requires the North to lead the transition by “changing its production and consumption patterns, while developing countries continue to follow, sustainably, their developmental goals and “adopt sustainable practices” with financial and technological support from the North, under reformed global economic and financial structures. This will wipe off the North-South conflict which is rooted in distrust – politically, economically and socially. The colonial era which bred this conflict can thus be erased on the basis of a new status of respect for the South – not as under the North’s hegemonic manoeuvres, but as comrades in arms fighting green house gas emissions and for structural change to a GE and beyond. There must be continuous trust routed in full respect of all agreed regimes.



[1]       UNDP Media Centre (2012): Supporting national capacity for adaptation and mitigation to climate change. Friday, 23 March 2012, available at: http://www.undp.org.zw/media-centre/news/21-environment-energy-news/225-supporting-national-capacity-for-adaptation-and-mitigation-to-climate-change?3a1ed061a28f8a5e62fd4865066ea7fa= (last accessed on 11.5.2012).

[2]       UNEP (2011): Towards a Green Economy. Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. Available at:  http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/ger/ger_final_dec_2011/Green%20EconomyReport_Final_Dec2011.pdf (last accessed on 11.5.2012).

[3]       UN-DESA, UNEP & UNCTAD (2011): The Transition to a Green Economy: Benefits, Challenges and Risks from a Sustainable Development Perspective, available at: http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/Portals/88/documents/research_products/UN-DESA,%20UNCTAD%20Transition%20GE.pdf (last accessed on 11.5.2012).

[4]       Climate Change Working Group, available at: http://www.ccwgzim.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30:the-green-economy&catid=5:latest-news&Itemid=1 (last accessed on 11.5.2012).

[6]       Medhurst, James /Nick Henry (2011): Impacts of Structural Change: Implications for policies supporting transition to a Green Economy, GHK, Birmingham. A project under the Framework contract for economic analysis ENV.G.1/FRA/2006/0073, European Commission, Brussels, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/resource_efficiency/pdf/transition_costs.pdf (last accessed on 11.5.2012).

[7]       Medhurst/Henry (2011)

[8]       UNEP (2011)

 

Kommentare zum Paper von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Kommentar von Stella Paul

Dear Rwatirinda, the overwhelming fact I found here is the slow awakening of Zimbabwe to the concept of sustainable development.

But to tell you the truth, I think this could also be a good point. As its evident now, the signatories to the Rio convention have attained little of what they promised to do in past twenty years. The concept of sustainable development, therefore, still lies in the book and the files. Even in the global gatherings, all we have seen are rhetoric and feuds. So any country can actually go ahead and build its own sustainable economy, provided it garners the political will to do so. Certainly, my friend, Zimbabwe hasn’t missed any train yet.

I am curious though, of what kind of regional collaboration Zimbabwe is part of, on the issue of sustainable development. On the issue of climate change, the African Union is making its presence felt of late. Is there a platform/process in Africa on the issue yet? If not, I feel Zimbabwe can perhaps take a leadership position to create one.

Kommentar von Marioliva González

Kommentar von Hariyadi

Two points deserve attentions in the global context particularly in the following respects. First, to put the green economy and sustainable development paradigm in place, there is a dire need to compell a kind of progressive breakthrough both nationally and internationally. To achieve that goal, decision-making processes to endorse the green economy and sustainable development as the two sides of the same coin, requires democratic and social inclusive approach. In short, in the transitional process towards the green economy and sustainable development, there should be bottom up dan top down mechanism. At the national level, this can overcome the untransparent, undemocratic and hierarchical status quo. The greening of institutions must be a professional, well-funded, democratic, transparent and political process. In this regard, the state must play the central role then. At the international level, there needs an international fairer regime whereby opening the space for both developed and developing nations to take the same role but shall be framed within the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ for the developing nations. This must be seen as something for granted not only in the perspective of (historical) climate justice and due the facts that developing nations still have less capital, money and technology. Second, developed nations shall reduce their patterns of consumptions and reduce expenditures which deplete natural capital and shall lead a model of transition towards green economy and sustainable development by changing their mode of production and consumptions. Developing nations, by contrast, may take a role to adopt greeny and sustainable practices in their development with financial and technological support from developed nations, of course, under restructured global economic and financial regimes. More importantly, this strategy also helps reduce conflicts between both groups of nations– politically, economically and socially. His paper seems comprehensive anyway. However, two things seems to be difficult to be executed by developed nation at least in the short run. Let’s see one advocacy to change the patterns of consumptions and productions. As the green economy practices may lead to slower economic growth in the short run, recessive (global) economic and financial situation they now face, will in turn hinder their political will to lead the green economy paradigm. The same case more or less also happens in the context of providing more restructured global economic and financial regimes. More roles for the developing nations in the regimes mean that they must also be willing to take more burdens to manage the regimes!

Kommentar von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Kommentar von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Kommentar von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Paper von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira


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People Before Profits: How Can We Build a Paradigm Shift?

Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

“Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction”

Faithless

 

Although the working concept of green economy was brought forward by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP),[1] as of its adoption as one of the central themes to be debated at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) an important orientation was added: “green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development”.

Since the UNCSD will convene in Brazil this coming June, 2012, it was only natural that society would debate its content. Diverse strategies were formulated and alliances and groups were organized, such as: the gathering of civil society organizations named Brazilian Civil Society Committee to Rio+20, and organizers of the Peoples’ Summit; and the Brazilian Committee on Rio+20 – organized by the government (including most ministries) and civil society representatives. Also worth mentioning are the debates conducted by the Economic and Social Development Council (CDES)[2] together with the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic on different dimensions of sustainable development, exploring the role of financial justice, education and civil society engagement, but not on green economy per se.

The Brazilian submission to the UNCSD compilation document, which was open to contribution from members of the National Committee, stated that Rio+20 represented “an opportunity to review current development patterns, above all in the light of the inadequate economic, social and environmental outcomes they have produced to date”. Specifically on green economy, Brazil said that it was one of the tools to achieve sustainable development, and that we need to assure that it is not interpreted as favoring aspects of commercialization and of advanced technology solutions over the pursuit of solutions adapted to the distinct realities of developing countries. For these, the green economy concept should include a set of concrete initiatives and policies and should add the word “inclusive” to its equation in order to provide the necessary space to introduce social policies.[3]

There was great concern and resistance from several civil society movements in Brazil, mainly pointing out that the capitalistic model of exploitation is at the core of our multiple crises and that it is not going to be addressed properly – neither by the UNCSD, nor within the green economy concept.


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Although I might tend to agree, at the same time, to expect that the United Nations would resolve these issues seems improbable and maybe incompatible with the current international setting where multilateralism has failed to bring the necessary and urgent solutions to climate change, trade impacts, desertification and so on. Nevertheless, pacts, deals and negotiations within the United Nations framework have their weight, although we need to face the fact that political realism prevails over planetary citizenship.

Green economy at the UNCSD is a notion under construction. However, some actors have approached it as an opportunity. Trade unions and workers looked at it as an occasion to debate the hegemonic economical and financial model in place. Economy is the pillar in sustainable development that has ruled decisions so far. It is also what needed to be dethroned, and we have collectively failed to use Rio+20 as an opportunity to do so. We were so attached to the fear that it would replace sustainable development that we failed to use the moment to point out, to emphasize and to criticize the destructive capitalist model of economics, of free market and neoliberalism where individual gain is central and where greed and profit plunders workers’ rights, human rights, safety for communities and our planet. The planet will most likely regenerate, the question is: will we be able to?

Green economy is neither our new savior, nor our new devil, and it is not a substitute to sustainable development. However, it is important to reinforce the idea that we don’t want to oppose the green part of the debate on economy. Despite risks, debating economy is a major opportunity to communicate what is wrong with the current model and to send signals that we want a change to be put in place.

Some of the dangers of adopting the green economy concept could be: greenwashing, over‑emphasizing the role of the private sector and going back to or strengthening the role of Public-private partnerships. However, green economy is also a political notion, which means that we don’t have and will not have a precise definition; rather, what we´ll get – if we get it – will be a loose definition. This opens up possible opportunities, such as bringing to the debate what ecological economics has tried before, or still tries, namely the element of economy that has been left aside: natural resources.

Impacts on trade are also one touchy issue. Although such decisions are taken in other spheres – such as the World Trade Organization or the G20 – they end up impacting negotiations at UNCSD. Equally important is the debate of free trade that marched all over the globe after the 1980s, contributing to environmental degradation. Commercial liberalization often leads to fierce competition, with no clear rules and no social or environmental safeguards – which leads to the overexploitation of natural resources.

Overall, green economy shouldn’t be our main focus of debate. What we need to do is to assure that we can bring to the table of discussion the economical dimension of sustainable development. Structural change and a paradigm shift will only come through integrated policy making which takes into consideration all dimensions of sustainable development.

On a positive note, green economy is also related to job creation and was an opportunity for workers and trade unions to raise their issues and to highlight the environmental aspects of the job agenda. Although there might be some uncertainty related to the adjective ‘green’ (which might be attached to the green economy dilemma), workers and trade unions, as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO), relate to the concept in order to promote jobs that are decent.

The secretariat of the Rio+20 conference has highlighted seven priority areas: energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans, disaster readiness and jobs. With regard to the latter, it is stated that  “economic recession has taken a toll on both the quantity and quality of jobs. For the 190 million unemployed in the world, and for over 500 million job seekers over the next 10 years, labor markets are vital not only for the production and generation of wealth, but equally for its distribution. Economic action and social policies to create gainful employment are critical for social cohesion and stability. It's also crucial that work is geared to the needs of the natural environment. "Green jobs" are positions in agriculture, industry, services and administration that contribute to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment.”[4]


3/4

It will be interesting to assess after Rio+20 how many of these selected issues have actually been translated into action oriented policies, beyond the political declaration expected from Rio, and far beyond only launching general processes.

Around the world today people are suffering the consequences of financial and climate crises; food and nutritional crises. There is an urgent need for effective and concrete measures to address such issues and put us on the right track. We want to see a world where multilateralism still has a role to play, where democracy and social dialogue, solidarity and cooperation between countries and their people is possible. Rio+20 still holds the possibility  to commit to nationally-based targets on decent and green jobs and a commitment to Social Protection.

Social protection is a key to overcome poverty and to provide green and decent work for all. Hence, plans at national level that will consider a just transition into the low carbon economy are not merely the future we want, but the future we need. I want to believe in a future where multilateralism has a role to play, where the depletion of natural resources will not exacerbate even further or lead to violent conflicts, which is unfortunately already the case.

For the green economy to be more than just a good idea, it would have to mean something of a paradigm shift. Trade unions have been discussing a few principles[5] that the economy will need to address: satisfaction of human needs such as access to food, water, home, education, transport and culture, because people don’t need cars – they need access to quality transport service, to work and to leisure; equity between and among countries; a return to a real, non-speculative economy; creation of new and decent work opportunities; respect for labor rights that broaden social protection, and that are based on a just transition. Also, we need conclusions on the political level to be translated into norms and institutional reforms; social protection systems, research and development programs, budget allocation, transparency of information and monitoring.

How can we get from where we are to where we want to be, without putting all costs on the most vulnerable? A just transition needs to be based on social and environmental justice, solidarity, social dialogue, the polluter pays principle and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. A just transition would be one that minimizes negative consequences especially for the most vulnerable sectors, that protects the more affected and that creates bigger and ample social protection systems; that guarantees decent work and counts in democratic and social participation.  

Strategic national and local development plans will need to be put in place and give equal consideration to the three dimensions of sustainable development. Such plans will also need to include short, medium and long term goals.  

Is the North-South conflict the only one we need to overcome? Today, conflict is not as linear. Within the Rio+20 negotiations we have the European Union calling for a roadmap on green economy with goals and targets, but at the same time, no financial support has been brought up. Meanwhile, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia for instance have been calling for a voluntary compendium of action (not just concerning green economy, but also governance and all issues pertaining to sustainable development), which in my opinion translates into letting each country do whatever it wants, giving little reason for a multilateral agreement. On the South end, G77 & China have been negotiating as one voice, which means that they have to find a balance between emerging economies, African countries, less developed countries, small islands, and the Alba group. That brings a multitude of positions and common position on all countries on finding the lower common denominator. Meanwhile the world has been facing huge unemployment crises, food security is threatened, climate impacts are being felt everywhere. In Brazil alone, we saw the highest flood in 30 years in the Amazon region, while at the same time the northeast of Brazil is facing the worst drought in 47 years, with over 2.7 million people being affected.


4/4

Current multilateral negotiations that impact sustainable development seem very disconnected to people’s needs and reality. Launching processes on Sustainable Development Goals and on green economy will not solve this. We need action and policies now. Policy options include a reduction of working hours that can lead to sustainable choices and the tackling of planned obsolescence. There are opportunities for new jobs (as well as for a revival of traditional ones) if we look at new production and consumption models.  Planned obsolescence has impacts on our planet, on jobs, and on consumers. While at first, addressing this problem can seem as a job threat, it is not true since it opens job opportunities in maintenance and repair and could revive many of those jobs which were highly specific (and have been passed on from generation to generation), but became obsolete together with the idea of quality products.

For this new paradigm to be socially just – both on the national and on the international level – we need to be determined as countries to act together, and act now. For the economy to be become green and inclusive it will need to be transformed, it will need to work to eradicate poverty and combat social inequality. If we don’t incorporate into the strategic planning of countries all dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, social and economical) in an integrated manner, it will be impossible to shift from this economy to a low carbon one, to sustainable development or green economy, if you want to call it that.

Sustainable development needs to have economic growth accompanied by poverty eradication, wealth distribution and the combatting of inequalities (income, gender, race), access to fundamental rights such as water, education and health. It needs to come with an implementation and creation of new decent work opportunities and broad social protection systems.

That will need to come together with social and democratic participation both at the level of decision making and implementation and monitoring of such policies. If we want to create a paradigm shift we cannot rely on governments only, but we need to elect governments that will put people before profit and that will take the current crisis seriously. A paradigm shift will need action from civil society actors, organized and not organized, to change their role, their intake, their actions and proposals to bring change about and go beyond the current models of thinking.

 

 

[1]       As one of the central themes on debate at Rio+20, side by side with the institutional framework for sustainable development, which means governance. UNEP defines Green Economy as “a system of economic activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that result in improved human wellbeing over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities” (UNEP working definition).

[2]       Economic and Social Development Council (CDES), the Letters of Coordination, the National Development Agenda, the Strategic Foundations for Development, and the Agenda for the New Cycle of Brazilian Development, with directives, proposals, and concrete goals to be achieved. More information available at: http://www.cdes.gov.br/int-en/t-1/economic-and-social-development-counci...

[3]       Brazil’s submission to the UNCSD compilation document can be accessed at: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&type=510&nr=227&menu=115.

[4]       For more details on green jobs and UNCSD, see http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/7issues.html.

[5]       For more on this issues please read: Getting the economy to work for sustainable development: challenges and opportunities of Rio+20: green economy, jobs, production and sustainable consumption by Laura Martin and Catarina F. A. Silveira, available at: http://www.sustainlabour.org/documentos/VitaeCivilis_2012.pdf (portuguese only).

 

Kommentare zum Paper von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Kommentar von Stella Paul

Dear Caterina

I love and agree completely to the opinion that a paradigm shift is subject to combating inequalities and practicing justice. And here, I would put a little more stress on gender equality and gender justice than anything else. Even if we look at the issue from a very hard , no-emotion-attached kind of stand and do a cost analysis, we see that the prevailing gender inequality is actually forcing governments across the world spend millions in controlling the damages that include malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality, low wages, skewed sex ratio and imbalanced income etc. The UNDP, in its world development reports has repeatedly said that to curb those issues, it’s absolutely necessary to curb gender injustice and gender inequality.

You have rightly mentioned the need for a greater role for all the trade unions in a sustainable economy. And here again I would say that trade unions are one place where gender disparity is extremely high. In most of the countries, especially those in developing and least developed bracket, trade unions are clearly a male dominion; there are either very few women, or none at all. And we see the direct result in the huge wage divide, hostile work environment, sexual harassment and next to nil facilities& benefits for women employees.

I feel if the government – especially the BRICS (of which both Brazil and India are important, major members) – countries can take concrete measures to decrease the current level of gender inequality, the possibility of attaining sustainable growth will become significantly high.

Kommentar von Marioliva González

Dear Catarina:
I'm agree with your paper about the fact that "the economy to be become green and inclusive it will need to be transformed, it will need to work to eradicate poverty and combat social inequality. If we don’t incorporate into the strategic planning of countries all dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, social and economical) in an integrated manner"
But now that Rio+20 conclude in a warm declaration with almost no advance about Rio 92.. What is next?
For me, the challenges are more focused not just into a "Low carbon" economy, but into how we can include the "external costs" of production-consumption and waste management into the economy. Because we can´t have an eternal growth , even green.

Kommentar von Hariyadi

Kommentar von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Kommentar von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Kommentar von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Gemeinsames Positionspapier

The Green Economy: A potentially sustainable concept - draft version

  1. The concept of Green Economy must neither replace the holistic and more inclusive idea of sustainable development, nor can it be considered independent of the basic principles that have been defined within the context of sustainable development. Rather, the Green Economy needs to be understood as a means to the end of achieving the goals and principles that have been set out within the concept of Sustainable Development, meaning that it has to include poverty eradication and social justice as the main purposes an ecologically sound economic system needs to cater.
     
  2. Green Economy must not be reduced to the idea of Green Growth which remains anchored in the present capitalist production-consumption model and holds on to economic growth as the decisive indicator for development, progress and human wellbeing. If the concept of a Green Economy is to make sense, it must mean a shift in paradigms, not just a new tag that preserves the ideology of the prevailing development model.
     
  3. The Green Economy is a political notion and as such necessarily “falls short of” an exact definition.  However, that also means that we can, and certainly should, make use of it. Instead of focusing too much on demonizing Green Economy as a disguise for “green” protectionism, “green” colonialism, “green” aid conditionalities etc., we should therefore concentrate on the potential the Green Economy concept offers in terms of framing debates in alternative ways.
     
  4. While the Green Economy concept has to be flexible enough to allow for individual policies and implementation schemes which can respond to the differing social and economic conditions of the respective country, it nevertheless has to be based on internationally agreed norms and principles. This common framework is a prerequisite for restoring trust in the international community and establishing a common ground for action.
     
  5. The international community of states plays a crucial role in the formulation and implementation of the Green Economy concept, yet so far has failed to deliver, letting political realism prevail over the idea of planetary citizenship. It is high time for us to realize that solidarity and cooperation between nations are a global common good. The policies and institutions that result from the Green Economy concept therefore must themselves be proof of the will to change the current structures towards a more just and equal, democratic world.
     
  6. The developed countries need to accept their duty to take the first step.  
     
  7. Good governance is central to the idea of sustainable development. Installing bottom-up processes on the national, regional, and local levels and ensuring that policy-making processes as well as the implementation and monitoring of Green Economy schemes are democratically controlled, transparent, and inclusive is therefore not only a procedural question, but an essential component of Green Economy understood as a means to achieve sustainable development.
     
  8. The necessary paradigm shift will require active civil society participation. Raising awareness, improving access to information and educational opportunities play key roles for empowerment and active citizenship.
     
  9. Green Economy must put people before profits. Among other things, this means pursuing a rights-based approach to sustainable development. The access to basic needs like water and food need to be assured as fundamental rights instead of leaving things to the market. Moreover, further commodification of nature leads to further concentration, not distribution of wealth which in turn creates new socio-political conflicts that will cause – and already have done so – irreparable damage to the democratic process. Commodification of nature and its services, therefore, is not the way to go.
     
  10. When it comes to implementing the Green Economy, it will be central how the transition will be managed and which principles will guide action. The transformation has to be made without putting the burden on the poorest, minimizing negative consequences especially for the most vulnerable. That is, a just transition would need to be based on social and environmental justice, solidarity and social dialogue; on the polluter pays principle, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities as well as the right to development. A just transition would have to create decent jobs along with robust labor rights and more ample social protection systems, improve gender justice and count in democratic and social participation by strengthening downward consultation as well as the social inclusivity of policy-making.

Kommentare zum Gemeinsamen Positionspapier

Kommentar von Stella Paul

It is good to see that the joint position paper here includes good governance as a central factor to achieve true green growth and building of a green economy.

I would like to add something that is crucial for good governance, and, in recent years has emerged as an contentious subject affecting developed-developing nations relations. And that is, lack of transparency in how countries are utilizing the aid meant for development. In fact, the issue of good governance or the lack of it features in most discussions/negotiations involving release of fund. While most of the donor countries are now repeatedly raising this issue of improper utilization/embezzlement and failure to utilize the fund, civil society organizations in most countries are also working hard to track the progress on the same issue. But lack of laws or a mechanism ensuring transparency poses a hurdle. Also, it allows the government to get away with widespread corruption.

It is therefore crucial that even as we move towards a green economy and towards creation of new funds ( for example, green climate fund or possible fund for possible Sustainable Development Goals or SDG )nations will need to create a mechanism to provide total transparency in utilization of the development fund. Without this, the money that is meant for development, will end elsewhere, which is often the root cause for failures. So, addressing the root cause of government's failure to bring development is extremely important.

Kommentar von Marioliva González

I'm very happy with the joint position Paper, thank you Judith for this amazing work!

i would like to add the need of a change of a production-consumption patterns while we take into account the external costs of production as a way to shift the paradigm and a way to change the general thinking of "living well" to "good living"

Kommentar von Hariyadi

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you so much for sharing the joint discussion paper concept. To me, it sounds good and has reflected the basic ideas and additional inputs/comments posed by the participants.

I agree with the concept. However, there are some additional comments from me (yellow backgroun) based on by the following reasons:

1. the title; I propose to add the word ‘development’ as Green Economy concept at last shall be an integral part of the sustainable development paradigm;

2. point 5, I propose to use a global public good instead of global common good. In fact, these two wordings have more or less the same but to me the concept ‘public good’ will give a more strong meaning that implicate collobarotaive and mutually reinforcing action among the nations in the global context;

3. point 8, I propose to add the word ‘in such a way the idea of sustainable development is inclusive and democratic in nature’ to clarify what ‘the necessary paradigm shift’ refer to. In my opinion, this refers to sustainable development.

4. point 9, I propose to add the word ‘basic healthcare’ as basic needs for the poor and what becomes the crucial things when we talk about where green economy scheme shall be focused on the ensure global equity.

5. I notice the environmental aspect has not been enough touched in this joint discussion paper, is that possible that this thing to be included either in poin 9 or 10. In my opinion, the green economy scheme is at last targetted to achieve what is called balanced economic activities, meaning to also pay a high political attention to the need of environment protection while economic ectivities are generated.

Thank you so much for considering my inputs.

Kommentar von Ravi Kant Tripathi

Kommentar von Rwatirinda Mahembe

Kommentar von Catarina Faria Alves Silveira

Dokumentation

The Green Economy:  A potentially sustainable concept

 

by Catarina Faria Alves Silveira, Hariyadi, Judith Gouverneur, Marioliva González, Ravi K. Tripathi, Rwatirinda Mahembe and Stella Paul

 

  1. The concept of Green Economy must neither replace the holistic and more inclusive idea of Sustainable Development, nor can it be considered independent of that guiding principle. Rather, the Green Economy needs to be understood as a means to the end of achieving the goals and principles that have been set out within the concept of Sustainable Development, meaning that it has to include poverty eradication and social justice as the main purposes an ecologically sound economic system needs to cater.
     
  2. Green Economy must not be reduced to the idea of Green Growth which remains anchored in the present capitalist production-consumption model and holds on to economic growth as the decisive indicator for development, progress and human wellbeing. If the concept of a Green Economy is to make sense, it must mean a shift in paradigms, not just a new tag that preserves the ideology of the prevailing development model.
     
  3. The Green Economy is a political notion and as such necessarily “falls short of” an exact definition.  However, that also means that we can, and certainly should, make use of it. Instead of focusing too much on demonizing Green Economy as a disguise for “green” protectionism, “green” colonialism, “green” aid conditionalities etc., we should therefore concentrate on the potential the Green Economy concept offers in terms of framing debates in alternative ways.
     
  4. While the Green Economy concept has to be flexible enough to allow for individual policies and implementation schemes which can respond to the differing social and economic conditions of the respective country, it nevertheless has to be based on internationally agreed norms and principles. This common framework is a prerequisite for restoring trust in the international community and establishing a common ground for action.
     
  5. The international community of states plays a crucial role in the formulation and implementation of the Green Economy concept, yet so far has failed to deliver, letting political realism prevail over the idea of planetary citizenship. It is high time for us to realize that solidarity and cooperation between nations are a global public good. The policies and institutions that result from the Green Economy concept therefore must themselves be proof of the will to change the current structures towards a more just and equal, democratic world.
     
  6. The developed countries need to accept their duty to take the first step.  
     
  7. Good governance is central to the idea of sustainable development. Installing bottom-up processes on the national, regional, and local levels and ensuring that policy-making processes as well as the implementation and monitoring of Green Economy schemes are democratically controlled, transparent, and inclusive is therefore not only a procedural question, but an essential component of Green Economy understood as a means to achieve sustainable development.  Furthermore, the capacity for good governance affects the trustworthiness of a country and is thus an important factor influencing decisions concerning the access to financial support and international funds.  
     
  8. Achieving the necessary paradigm shift towards a sustainable development model will require active civil society participation. Raising awareness, improving access to information and educational opportunities play key roles for empowerment and active citizenship.
     
  9. Green Economy must put both people and nature before profits. This means pursuing a rights-based approach to sustainable development, that is, to human development within the planetary boundaries. The access to basic needs like water, food, sanitation and basic healthcare needs to be assured as a fundamental right instead of leaving things to the market. Moreover, further commodification of nature leads to further concentration, not distribution of wealth which in turn creates new socio-political conflicts that will cause – and already have done so – irreparable damage to the democratic process. Commodification of nature and its services, therefore, is not the way to go.
     
  10. When it comes to implementing the Green Economy, it will be central how the transition will be managed and which principles will guide action. The transformation has to be made without putting the burden on the poorest, minimizing negative consequences especially for the most vulnerable. That is, a just transition would need to be based on social and environmental justice, solidarity and social dialogue; on the polluter pays principle, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities as well as the right to development. A just transition would have to create decent jobs along with robust labor rights and more ample social protection systems, improve gender justice and count in democratic and social participation by strengthening downward consultation as well as the social inclusivity of policy-making.