“What does a green economy mean to you?” We ask the experts…

The green economy concept is broad and open to a number of interpretations: will it suffer the problems of definitional ambiguity that has sometimes plagued the sustainable development debate?

UNEP defines a green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risk and ecological scarcities. We often hear reference to the ‘triple bottom line’, meaning that the green economy should simultaneously promote economic, social and environmental benefits; but the relative emphasis on ‘profit’, ‘people’ and the ‘planet’ is up for question.

As Rio+20 draws closer, we all have the opportunity to shape the green economy agenda. We ask experts from the global water community “what does a green economy mean to you?”

“For me, the green economy means thinking hard about making sure that the actions of today will not lock us into problems tomorrow. Also, it means thinking hard about ways in which we can meet the needs of the poor and the needs of poor countries.”                                                      

Julia Bucknall, World Bank

“For me, it means really thinking about the future generation. I think the green economy is a new opportunity to achieve development in a way that is inclusive and environmentally sustainable. The financial crisis we are facing today gives us space to think about ways to eradicate poverty and manage our resources better. I hope the green economy concept doesn’t only remain in the textbooks. We need to make real transitions on the ground. The challenges we are facing are serious and we cannot allow ourselves to miss this chance that we have now.”

Caridad Canales, ECLAC

“The green economy is about reflecting the full value of the environment and the full cost of the damage that can be done when you don’t price things correctly. It’s about driving economic growth and resource use forward in ways that make greater use of ecosystem services.”

Mike Young, University of Adelaide

“Green growth means fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and ecosystem services on which our well-being relies. It must catalyse investment and innovation which will underpin sustained growth and give rise to new economic opportunities.”

Gérard Bonnis, OECD

“It means doing more with less and using available resources sustainably, that is, we’ve got to keep going for the indefinite future. It’s sustainable development put into practice, it’s not rhetoric, it’s doing it. It’s about doing both sides of the equation – it’s both about what we want to achieve as a society to be more successful, including poverty alleviation or removal, and how we use resources.”

Colin Green, Middlesex University

“We should consider the Green Economy an attempt to apply the well-known concept of sustainable development in an era of climate change. All definitions clearly indicate that the words ‘green’ and ‘economy’ should not be interpreted as if the focus is being shifted to only the environmental and efficiency aspects; equity and poverty reduction are equally important and must be incorporated into the frameworks and implementations that follow.”

Olcay Ünver, UN World Water Assessment Programme

“The narrow definition is an economy which is compatible or driven by actions to reduce greenhouse gases. The wider definition includes the protection of ecosystems, the respect of environmental carrying capacity and the mitigation of all human impacts on the natural world.”

Jim Winpenny, Wychwood Economic Consulting Ltd

“The green economy is about finding an equilibrium between inputs and outputs”

Julio Berbel Vecino, University of Cordoba

“I think it’s a strategy or an intention for the economy to produce not only commercial goods and market goods, but to also generate other benefits such as better environmental protection and resource conservation. So the green economy is about trying to accomplish joint outcomes: firstly the production of market goods, economic growth, jobs, and so on; and at the same time at least not causing deterioration and if possible generating gains in the area of natural resources and the environment.”

Alberto Garrido, Technical University of Madrid

One response to ““What does a green economy mean to you?” We ask the experts…

  1. Green economy needs to work for the poor. In this regards, I strongly agree with Helen Clark (UNDP, 2011) that a ‘green economy’ which works for the world´s poor could be expected among others, to promote equitable access to energy and its efficient use; and build resilience to environmental and other risks. Hence, putting ‘green economy’ intentions into practice will need to vary depending on among others, the geographical area, and the level of economic development.

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