Towards a green economy: pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication

Towards a green economy: pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication

Can low carbon and resource efficiency lead to economic growth?

The paper presents the importance and relevance of green economies. It describes a green economy as one which results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. The report notes that moving towards a green economy has the potential to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. It further argues that in a number of important sectors such as agriculture, buildings, forestry and transport, a green economy delivers more jobs throughout the short, medium, and long term.

It notes that greening economies not only generate increased wealth (in particular natural capital), but also produces a higher rate of GDP growth. There is an inextricable link between poverty eradication and better maintenance and conservation of the ecological commons – arising from the benefit flows from natural capital that are received directly by the poor – thus a green economy is a vital strategy for poverty alleviation. In transferring to a green economy new jobs are created, in turn enhancing social equity. A green economy substitutes fossil fuels with renewable energy and low-carbon technologies, promotes enhanced resource and energy efficiency, and delivers more sustainable urban living and low-carbon mobility.

In order to achieve a green economy, the report recommends that national governments and their policy-makers should endeavour to do the following:

  • establish sound regulatory frameworks by creating minimum standards or prohibiting certain activities entirely
  • prioritise government investment and spending in areas that stimulate the 'greening' of economic sectors
  • limit government spending in areas that deplete natural capital
  • employ taxes and market-based instruments to shift consumer preference and promote green investment and innovation
  • invest in capacity building and training to enable individuals to analyse challenges, identify opportunities, prioritise interventions, mobilise resources, implement policies and evaluate progress
  • strengthen international governance, through international environmental agreements and international trading systems.
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