Policy context

Newton and Cantarello (2014) note that:

“The term ‘green economy’ only became widely used following the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, which helped push it swiftly to the top of the political agenda.”

They go on to highlight how:

”…the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) promoted the idea of ‘green stimulus packages’ as part of the economic recovery efforts, involving large scale public investment in green technologies.”

And then:

“In 2008, UNEP launched a ‘Green Economy Initiative’ to provide analysis and policy support for development of the green economy…”

…and published the following:

UNEP 2009. Global Green New Deal: Policy Brief, United Nations Environment Programme, Economics and Trade Branch, Geneva.

UNEP Green Economy Initiative (GEI)

The About Us section of the GEI website provides the following background:

“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the Green Economy Initiative (GEI) in 2008 consisting of global research and country-level assistance aiming at motivating policymakers to support environmental investments as a way of achieving sustainable development.”

The following report followed:

The GEI website goes on to say:

“Thanks to this initiative and the work of other agencies, “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” was placed on the 2012 Rio+20 agenda and was acknowledged as a tool for achieving sustainable development.”

The principle outcome document of Rio+20 was ‘THE FUTURE WE WANT‘ but this lacked firm commitments from countries. However, many countries  began to develop national strategies and plans for green economic development, supported by international organisations such as OECD, World Bank and other UN agencies.

In Europe, the EU 2020 strategy for a ‘smart, green and inclusive economy’ was launched.

From GEI to an Inclusive Green Economy

From the GEI website:

“After Rio+20, UNEP felt the need to update the GEI, in particular by strengthening the notion of ecological thresholds and better integrating the concern over equity and inclusiveness. At the UN General Assembly 2015, UNEP published “An inclusive green economy: a summary for leaders” in which concepts such as “sharing, circularity, collaboration, solidarity, resilience, opportunity, and interdependence” are accentuated.

An Inclusive Green Economy is an alternative to today’s dominant economic model, which generates widespread environmental and health risks, encourages wasteful consumption and production, drives ecological and resource scarcities and results in inequality. It is an opportunity to advance both sustainability and social equity as functions of a stable and prosperous financial system within the contours of a finite and fragile planet. It is a pathway towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, eradicating poverty while safeguarding the ecological thresholds, which underpin human health, well-being and development. 

Over the past decade, the concept of the Green Economy has emerged as a strategic priority for many governments and intergovernmental organizations. All told, 65 countries have embarked on a path towards an Inclusive Green Economy and related strategies. By transforming their economies into drivers of sustainability, they will be primed to take on the major challenges of the twenty-first century – from urbanization and resource scarcity to climate change and economic volatility.”

References and further reading