Towards a Green Economy
Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication
United Nations Environment Programme | January 10, 2012
The last two years have seen the idea of a "green economy" float out of its specialist moorings in environmental economics and into the mainstream of policy discourse. It is found increasingly in the words of heads of state and finance ministers, in the text of G20 communiques, and discussed in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
This recent traction for a green economy concept has no doubt been aided by widespread disillusionment with the prevailing economic paradigm, a sense of fatigue emanating from the many concurrent crises and market failures experienced during the very first decade of the new millennium, including especially the financial and economic crisis of 2008. But at the same time, there is increasing evidence of a way forward, a new economic paradigm—one in which material wealth is not delivered perforce at the expense of growing environmental risks, ecological scarcities, and social disparities.
Mounting evidence also suggests that transitioning to a green economy has sound economic and social justification. There is a strong case emerging for a redoubling of efforts by both governments as well as the private sector to engage in such an economic transformation. For governments, this would include leveling the playing field for greener products by phasing out antiquated subsidies, reforming policies and providing new incentives, strengthening market infrastructure and market-based mechanisms, redirecting public investment, and greening public procurement. For the private sector, this would involve understanding and sizing the true opportunity represented by green economy transitions across a number of key sectors, and responding to policy reforms and price signals through higher levels of financing and investment.
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