UN Report Says Economic Growth and Sustainability Critically Linked

A new report by the United Nations Environment Program says that moving towards a green economy is the most effective way to reduce worldwide poverty

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a report last week arguing the risks we face today are much different from what they were 50 years ago. The report, Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, concludes that a shift to a green economy “has the potential to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication on a scale and at a speed not seen before.”

Greener Economy Focus Means Job-Creation and Economic Growth

Public and private investments aimed at increasing and enhancing natural capital (i.e forests, water, soil and fish stocks) creates new economic sectors and new technologies. Investing in clean energy, energy efficiency, recycling, sustainable agriculture, and waste management technologies and infrastructure, as well as human capital related to these, will create jobs, income, and economic growth. By both traditional measures of economic growth and vitality as well as more holistic measures that take the value of natural capital into account more, the report finds that by 2020, taking a green economy route rather than a business-as-usual route will result in better economic results.

In agriculture, buildings, forestry and transportation, a green economy approach would create jobs in the short-term, the medium-term, and the long-term. In other sectors, a green approach is needed for medium- and/or long-term economic sustainability.

Public Sector Needed to Jump-Start Shift to a Green Economy

The private sector, of course, needs to invest in a greener economy in order for the world to achieve these benefits, but the public sector has a clear role to play as well.

It must help “in overcoming distortions introduced by perverse subsidies and externalized costs,” the report remarks. “And public investment will be required to jump-start an effective transition to a green economy.”

To read more about how, exactly, a green economy approach is better for the economy, or the governmental policies needed to lead us into this economy, read the full report.

Article by Zachary Shahan, appearing courtesy ecopolitology.

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