Welcome to the discussion forum for the conference ‘Water in the Green Economy in practice: Towards Rio+20’ to be held in Zaragoza on 3-5 October 2011. This conference is a key milestone in the preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development ‘Rio+20’ to take place in Brazil on 4-6 June 2012.
UNEP define a green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. This means refocusing the global economy towards investments and interventions that sustain economic development and job creation, whilst contributing to poverty reduction and safeguarding the world’s biodiversity and ecosystem services. This is no small undertaking and the Rio+20 is one of the most important events on the UN agenda.
A green economy recognises the value of, and invests in natural capital. Water is essential to achieving the green economy, as the substantial and valuable services provided by freshwater ecosystems underpin human well-being and economic development. Yet, these ecosystems are undervalued and under threat. If we continue with business as usual, there will be a large and unsustainable gap between global supply and demand in decades to come, which will hamper development and poverty alleviation efforts. Investments in water infrastructure and water policy reform are urgently needed to increase water supply and efficiency. Investing in water reaps high levels of economic, social and environmental returns – that’s why water must be a building block in the transition to the green economy.
The Zaragoza conference aims to highlight the role of water in the green economy. It will showcase how different tools can be used to facilitate change and help move towards a green growth model, drawing on specific examples from around the world. The focus will be on success stories and lessons learnt from practical implementation experiences, with reflections on what works in different contexts.
We welcome your views on the themes of the conference. What do you think needs to be done to ‘green’ the water sector? What tools are most effective for promoting change? What success stories do you know that promote water and the green economy? Do we need different approaches for developing countries and developed countries?