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UN Urges Green Growth

A new United Nations report has suggested that investing heavily in green sectors of the world economy would deliver long-term stability in the global economy.

The report, from the UN Environmental Program’s (UNEP) Green Economy Initiative says that spending just two per cent of global GDP in 10 key ‘green economy’ areas would generate a ‘low carbon, resource efficient green economy’. The definition of ‘green economy’ provided by the report is one that resulted in ‘improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities’

Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UNEP Green Economy Initiative told the 100 ministers who attended the publication of the report that governments were at the heart of making this change. He said: “Governments have a central role in changing laws and policies, and in investing public money in public wealth to make the transition possible. Misallocation of capital is at the centre of the world’s current dilemmas and there are fast actions that can be taken, starting literally today.”

He cited two examples of immediate action that could be taken to direct funds to green projects – $600bn of global fossil fuel subsidies and $20bn of subsidies that go to unsustainable fisheries. The report suggests redistributing the two per cent of the global GDP in a number of different areas, with both greening agriculture and forestry project high up on the list of priorities.

The report also predicts that by investing in green economies, growth rates in global GDP will surpass those that would otherwise be achieved through ‘traditional’ means within 5-10 years. UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said. “The green economy – as documented and illustrated in the report – offers a focused and pragmatic assessment of how countries, communities and corporations have begun to make a transition towards a more sustainable pattern of consumption and production. With 2.5bn people living on less than $2-a-day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies. But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in the atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone of us.”

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