In the last quarter century the world economy has quadrupled, benefiting millions of people. However, in the same period of time, 60% of the world’s main ecosystem goods and services, on which human survival depends, have been degraded or used in an unsustainable way.
One of the latest publications from UNEP, Towards a green economy. Guide for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty, revolves around this problem, offering arguments that promote the transitiontowards an economy that manages to decouple the creation of wealth of environmental degradation.
The Ecological Wealth of Nations: Earth’s Biocapacity as a New Framework for International Cooperation. Global Footprint Network (2010), p. 13; Human Development Index data from Human Development Report 2009 – Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development. UNDP (2009).
UNEP defines a green economy as one that improves human well-being and enables greater social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcity. In addition, the green economy:
- Recognize the value of natural capital by investing in it.
- It is essential for poverty reduction.
- Creates jobs by promoting social equity.
- Substitute fossil fuels for renewable energy and low carbon technologies.
- Facilitates a more sustainable urban life and reduces carbon emissions from transport.
- Allows the conservation and recovery of natural capital.
After analyzing the benefits of the green economy , the document sets out a series of measures and political guidelines to accelerate the transition towards the new economic paradigm:
- Establishment of sound regulatory frameworks.
- Prioritization of investment and public spending towards environmental improvement activities.
- Limiting public spending in areas that are detrimental to natural capital.
- Application of taxes and market-based instruments to promote environmental investments and innovations.
- Investment in training and education.
- Strengthening of international governance.
In relation to these measures developed in the UNEP report, the article by Martin Jänicke from number 75 of Ekonomiaz, which we already talked about in the previous post, establishes four general considerations for policy design of eco-innovation, which will drive the transition towards a green economy. Thus, Martin Jänicke exhibits atInnovations for sustainable use of the resources: reflections and proposals that:
- Setting ambitious, broadly ambitious and reliable goals are a necessary condition.
- A flexible policy mix is required to support the innovation cycle from invention to diffusion.
- A preponderant role within this mix should be given to the price system (taxes, tariffs, certificates, market incentives) and regulation.
- Finally, the clusters and competent integrating networks are indicated as important actors in the eco-innovative process.
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(Cover image from The Green Initiative, UNEP)