Friday, August 10, 2012

What is the Green Economy?

The global financial crisis that began in 2007, and is still resonant today, is considered by many economists as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. One of the key lessons we can draw from this experience is that running economies the way we’ve always done, doing business as usual, is clearly not an option. The new Green Economy is therefore a proposal for an alternative and far more sustainable way of doing business.

A green economy is described as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In other words, we can think of a green economy as an economic environment that achieves low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and at the same time is socially inclusive.

The Green Economy Initiative

The UNEP-led Green Economy Initiative, launched in late 2008, provides a comprehensive and practical working mechanism, through analysis and policy support for investing in green sectors and in greening environmental unfriendly sectors.

The Green Economy Initiative has three main activities, which are to produce a Green Economy Report and related research materials, which will analyse the macroeconomic, sustainability, and poverty reduction implications of green investment in a range of sectors; to provide advisory services on ways to move towards a green economy in specific countries; and to engage a wide range of research, non-governmental organizations, business and UN partners in implementing the Green Economy Initiative.

Green jobs

So why the fuss? Regardless of the environmental benefits and options for sustainability, investment into a Green Economy is captured in several reports as an agent for creating millions of new jobs, such UNEP’s Green Jobs report. One of the main engines for economic growth is a higher rate of employment, which both reduces a burden on the economy and gives consumers the purchasing power to sustain lives through supporting industries.

By 2008, over 2.3 million people in just six leading countries in green jobs were employed in this low-carbon sector (China, Denmark, Germany, India Spain, and the United States). The Green Economy is therefore not just a passing environmental fad but is one of the best solutions available for sustainable economic growth that recognizes the social component.

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