Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Green Economy

                                                             Comments due by 9/16/2016

Sustainable development has been the overarching goal of the international community since the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992. Amongst numerous commitments, the Conference called upon governments to develop national strategies for sustainable development, incorporating policy measures outlined in the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21. Despite the efforts of many governments around the world to implement such strategies as well as international cooperation to support national governments, there are continuing concerns over global economic and environmental developments in many countries. These have been intensified by recent prolonged global energy, food and financial crises, and underscored by continued warnings from global scientists that society is in danger of transgressing a number of planetary boundaries or ecological limits.

With governments today seeking effective ways to lead their nations out of these related crises whilst also taking into account these planetary boundaries, green economy (in its various forms) has been proposed as a means for catalysing renewed national policy development and international cooperation and support for sustainable development. The concept has received significant international attention over the past few years as a tool to address the 2008 financial crisis as well as one of two themes for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). This has resulted in a rapidly expanding literature including new publications on green economy from a variety of influential international organisations, national governments, think tanks, experts, non-government organisations and others.

Despite the growing international interest in green economy, negotiations between Member States on the concept in the lead up to Rio+20 were challenging. This was partly due to the lack of an internationally agreed definition or universal principles for green economy, the emergence of interrelated but different terminology and concepts over recent years (such as green growth, low carbon development, sustainable economy, steady-state economy etc.), a lack of clarity around what green economy policy measures encompass and how they integrate with national priorities and objectives relating to economic growth and poverty eradication, as well as a perceived lack of experience in designing, implementing and reviewing the costs and benefits of green economy policies.
Recent publications on green economy or green growth by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Green Economy Coalition, Stakeholder Forum, the Green Growth Leaders and many others have begun to address these knowledge gaps and demystify these concepts. Importantly, there is also emerging practice in the design and implementation of national green economy strategies by both developed and developing countries across most regions, including Africa, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific and Europe. This emerging practice can help to provide some important insights and much-needed clarity regarding the types of green economy policy measures, their scope with regard to various sectors and national priorities, and their institutional barriers, risks and implementation costs. This international experience may serve to alleviate concerns regarding the effective integration of green economy policies with national economic and social priorities and objectives, including the achievement of internationally agreed development goals.(ECOSAC)


  1. Before coming into this course I had a relatively vague understanding of what green economy/economics is. I kind of understand why, particularly because of how sustainable economics is such a convoluted concept, derived from the lack of a universal definition for it.

    The strategy involved with understanding how green economics is situated within the global economic framework could be one of the primary reasons why the fundamental process of defining the concept is so difficult. As a corollary, perhaps competing interests and policy goals makes defining green economics difficult because the overarching goals of one country, firm, etc. is much different than its neighbors, even though there is an understanding by the aggregate that it is important.

  2. I have been hearing more and more people talking about the term "green economy" over the past few years, but I never really had an understanding as to what it applied to or what it meant. Recently a lot of articles have started to be published, discussing the topic and what it can mean for society today. Once people begin to understand what the idea of green economics can mean for society, we may be able to see changes start to occur in the relationship between people and nature.

    The availability of resources that discuss the topic of green economy (some of which you have listed above) will inform and educate society on the topic. Therefore, it will be seen as something that is possible and could serve to help improve the relationship between humans and nature, helping them co-exist together in the future in a healthy way.

  3. I have heard a lot recently about the need for a "green economy." Although when people talk about it they often leave out the important aspects of agriculture, factory farming, and livestock. Our reading delved into that and I was happy to see so many statistics related to how livestock feed and raising livestock for slaughter actually contributes not only to methane gas but also to carbon emissions as well as overuse of arable land until it is no longer usable.
    There has definitely been a growing need for a green economy. And in some ways we have implemented many ways to help promote and expand a green economy. Wind and solar energy developments have been become more popular and more successful. However, we continue to deplete natural resources. Educating people on a green economy and the ways we can achieve this will certainly move people in the right direction. People tend to be resistant to change but we need to use legislation to push a green economy.

  4. When I hear the words "green economy" I immediately think of the oil industry. I think of this because crude oil is really what powers our entire planet and thus the economic cycle. The world's oil reserves are depleting; what will fuel the planet? Green economics has a lot to do with specific markets such as agriculture, livestock, manufacturing, etc. We don't often realize that the agriculture market isn't "green", and the methods used to produce quicker and cheaper are causing severe damage to Earth.
    Aside from the technologies used by industries to produce their goods, the main power source driving the business cycle is a massive threat the the environment. Now more than ever, it is imperative to shift from fossil fuel energy to solar, wind, and hydro power. Not only will these advancements help to preserve the planet, but will provide sustainable, natural, power that will contribute to economic growth immensely. "Going Green" is no longer just for tree huggers; businesses must innovate and invest in environmentally sound business practices if we want to see economic growth in the future.

    1. Hi Bradley,
      I think you made a good point of addressing the fact that we still rely more on oil and natural resources. Wind energy and utilizing "greener" farming methods will drastically reduce the damage we are causing to the environment. I also agree that switching to solar, wind, and hydro power will provide a more sustainable power that will contribute to increased economic growth. Recently in Germany, so much electric power was produced that prices were actually negative. This means that customers were actually paid to use the electrical system. Every year they have a greater share of renewable energy and hope to achieve 100% by 2050.
      It is very important to implement laws in order to get businesses to follow more green practices. Telling people to reduce carbon emissions, recycle, and turn off electricity can only go so far. We need to address corporations, businesses, and farming practices that hurt the environment and cause more damage than everyday citizens.

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  6. I find it interesting that one of the biggest challenges with a green economy is trying to define it. When looking closer at the Rio + 20, many of the challenges came from trying to focus the broad concept. Since different areas of the world are facing a vast variety of crises, trying to target so many different issues seems like an incredibly daunting task. Where do you begin? The UN defines the sustainable development goals as “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” (http://tinyurl.com/hepclrn)
    For decades, many countries have been trying to implement strategies that will improve the situation of the planet. However, change is slow, scientific warning get ignored, and government efforts seem to go unnoticed. Scientists believe we have already crossed four out of nine planetary boundaries and if at the current rate, “the Earth in the coming decades could cease to be a “safe operating space” for human beings.” (http://tinyurl.com/zv494w9)
    The only way to slow down the decay of the planet is to raise people’s awareness. Education and knowledge will allow countries to move forward with changes.

  7. To achieve anything close to any organizations' definition of a green economy is a task requiring decades of concerted effort. Already admitted to require whole number percentages (>1%) of an entire superpowers GDP (in investments and government spending) in order to hope to achieve numbers set in green bills given in national conferences, there is no doubt in most any learner's mind that achieving any semblance of a green economy is a momentous task. Having said that the fact that the lack of a clear definition of vernacular, terminology and so on among the world organizations is a travesty in itself. For such a simple matter to be handled, agreed upon and built on would mean a world of difference for all efforts in making Earth an entirely more sustainable planet.
    I have read students commenting on subjects regarding green economy that seem to encompass singular and isolated issues more so than the entire beast itself. To achieve a green economy is not only to change infrastructure, law, business practices and so on. I would argue that a green economy has not truly been achieved until...
    Adverts on television do not call for people to donate a penny a day to feed a starving child anymore than they would for communities that are lacking proper education. (Hint: When mankind first came about and found that berries were fatally poisonous through trial and error, don't you think that their having the proper education in berry picking would have benefit them more than just giving them more berries?)
    People care (about littering or pollution for instance) not because they are worried what other people will think of them but instead because to do right by the planet is to do right by themselves.
    I've already said and so on once, but I'll do it again. While achieving a green economy is a monumental task in itself I would urge upon organizations to have clear vernacular in their individual languages and to look at the big picture more so than worry about particular industries' endeavors.

  8. The concept of achieving global sustainable growth is very complex with an incredible amount of variable that must be accounted for. To begin the super powers of the world bust be able to come together to agree on common goals along with clear and definite practices. Green economics is the delicate combination of economics, the environment, and society.

    To begin achieving sustainable growth all nations must believe in the greater good and strive for the earth to better as a whole. This means that nation states must put their self interests aside and want each other to succeed. This is hard to do with many of the concepts revolving around competing industries and sectors. There must also be an agreement between developed countries to act in the rightful manner whilst allowing emerging countries to have less boundaries to allow them to compete and grow in a sustainable manner.

  9. It does not surprise me that the definition of a "green economy" is still not agreed upon. The term is not new to me however I now realize that I do not truly understand the concept. A green economy as a theory seems ideal however, as we see now it is very difficult to attain especially on a global scale.

    The basic idea of a green economic policies is to minimize the negative effects of producing on the environment. I think it is important to say that most environmentally sound decisions come at a great cost. And the trade-off is not ideal in some cases. Most people will probably like the concept of a green economy. But, in actuality consumers may not be able to afford or consume at the rate that will allow for a stable economy unless corporations are able to produce at the right price. I think before these policies come into play corporations need to be allowed to grow to a level where they are able to make the trade-off and produce clean and minimize costs. On the other hand, green economic policies can inspire innovation in industries like that of agriculture which is the cause of a lot of pollution. International law may be the right motivation for old and new corporations entering the industry to invest in safe practice.

    I also believe the public needs to be made more aware of these issues. Although I have heard the terminology had I not opted for this class I would have not learned about or thought to look up RIO+20. These are issues we need to address right now and I do not think that enough people are aware. If more people were environmentally conscious spending habits would change and would force the corporations to start making the right decisions for the environment and a green economy would be achievable in the near future.

  10. Environmental economy, or in other words green economy, is a topic well spoken of for a vast period of time. I’ve recently heard a lot about the need for change on behalf of this country, and the rest of the world in reality. And that is to adopt and advance for a more “green economy.” However, what does that actually mean? In most cases it is defined as an economy in which aims to reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities, aiming for a sustainable development without demeaning the environment.
    One of the main benefits of adopting a green economy is its potential to alleviate the environmental impact caused by pollution, which has been a focal issue for decades. On a global scale, it can contribute to the fight against global warming, desertification, and the loss of biodiversity. On a local and regional level, adjusting to a green economy could lead to significant improvements in air, water and soil quality. Overall many people, myself included, believe that shifting to a green economy can be exceptionally great for the natural environment. It is time for a change. I do believe that green economy is the future we all want, if it indeed can serve to improve the relationship between nature and individuals. As well as allow for us to cohabit together in harmony for the long term.

  11. One of the most important topics nations discuss today is sustainable development. Due to this fact, the interest in green economy is drastically increasing internationally, both in developed and developing countries. One of the big problem green economy faces is the unclearity of its definition. It has no definition which is internationally agreed upon. This of course causes confusion when it comes to policies and procedures. Another problem is the lack of experience of those who create plans to implement and measure costs. In my opinion, nations who recognize the importance of sustainable development, need to implement green economy policies to the best of their abilities or to an extent which best fits their county's resources and means. I think making small changes which will give experience on this concept could benefit countries as a whole and help them start on their path of green economy. If many nations start acting, we could slowly be able to see its benefits on our environment.

  12. Green economy has become an interesting topic to consider with all of its forms. I have taken a sustainable development class and it really made me understand the significance of green economy and the role it plays in sustainable development. Sustainability not only comes from our governments but the citizens who drive the economy. If we become citizens who are concious about the importance of going green, then we can make a change in how our economy functions. One industry that has a huge effect on the environment is electricity and gas. As environmentally concious citizens, we can make the decision of investing our money into sustainable energies. Not only do governments but the people need to take action to create a more sustainable economy. If we do not see the incentive of change in our government's policies, then we can take the first steps as citizens to create a sustainable environment and to promote green economy.

  13. I am pretty sure that not everyone knows what "green economy" means. People might have an idea of an economy that cares about the environment, which it truly is, but it involves a lot more than just that. There are so many different parties and factors involved, that it makes it difficult to reach an agreement of what is green economy and what is not.
    We have damaged our ecosystem a lot and we need to find new solutions. Green economy might be a good solution, but as seen in the article, it is difficult to determinate what is green economy and what is not. Actions need to be taken in order to start fighting against pollution, global warming, etc. and at the same time, be able to have a powerful economy.

  14. This is a very interesting topic and it caught my attention a while back. This is a topic that I am very passionate about. Not everybody realizes that the world is over populating and depleting its natural resources faster and faster. Animals are becoming extinct and so are certain plants vital for human survival. I think its also important and very necessary that countries meet and take action together on it because thats the only way we can accomplish a green economy. Green economy might be a little more expensive in the meantime but its going to payout in the long run.

    Can Karako

  15. It is obvious that green economy is a popular topic. A few years ago, when I studied in China, I heard a term called sustainable development. That was I first time heard this term. With the development of society, more and more people realize the importance of environment. Sustainable development is a good way to protect environment. Protecting environment is the duty of all people and all countries rather than one person or one country. As Rio declaration said,"Working towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system."

    Liuming Sun

  16. The issues surrounding green economy and sustainable development in general are plentiful and interesting. Though there is much confusion and debate regarding what constitutes best practices, one thing is clear: We need an international consensus. This is an issue that the international community, if it is to truly succeed, will need to confront together and from a place of consensus. Without jointly establishing the problems, goals, appropriate remedies, and other contingencies I don't believe the international community will be able to properly deal with this issue. The need for a consensus is in large part due to the fact that without unity in practice and enforcement of any commitments with respect to sustainable development, no real change is likely to occur. It seems clear that an approach based in economics is the best option for confronting this environmental threat, with the only obstacle being the willingness of nations to unite behind this common cause.

  17. There is one thing that every person has in common, and that is the fact that no matter where you are from, the Earth is our shared home. That is why I believe that before we tackle the environmental issues we are experiencing, we must first tackle our inability to act together.

    I feel that it is important for people to understand the fact that we all share the Earth as our common home; that is the reason why it is so important that we act together in our journey towards a "green economy". In order to have a green economy, we must achieve sustainability ( the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance). In order to achieve sustainability, we need to implement a global standard for greenhouse gas emissions. Some companies are provided financial incentives to emit less pollution, but I feel as if that is not enough. In order to see a real change, we must collaboratively want that change; the most potent form of motivation comes from personal incentives, not financial ones. Additionally, I feel that we must stop measuring negative environmental effects by geographic area (country, hemisphere, etc.). We should begin measuring environmental ramifications by their entire global effect; doing this will put into perspective the fact that this issue effects mankind as a whole.

    Energy is the big question mark. How will we provide enough energy to sustain future growth and development, while also being environmentally aware? In order to have a green economy, we must be able to obtain energy without the depletion of natural resources. I believe that we will only see a sustainable economy when we begin harvesting wind, water, and solar energy on a mass scale.