High UN officials calling for sustainable economic “far-reaching vision” Reply

During the opening of the Development Dialog on “Macroeconomic Policies for the Future We Want,” United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, both stressed that future policymaking should be focused on job creation and protection of the environment.

Jan Eliasson called for a “far-reaching vision” and said that it is important to discuss integrated policies that aim at “sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth.”

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser then highlighted that it was particularly important to give full consideration to an effective integration of macro-economic policymaking into the development agenda that must be developed after the 2015 term of the Millenium Development Goals effort.

At the end of the gathering, participants agreed an outcome document which called for a wide range of actions, such as beginning the process to establish Sustainable Development Goals.

Link: UN News Centre

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Green Economy Coalition surveying the ‘green economy’ and ‘green growth’ landscape after Rio+20 Reply

The Green Economy Coalition (GEC) has produced a paper summarizing the current situation in the growing field of ‘green economy’ and ‘green growth.’ This post-Rio+20 assessment is intended as a working draft for consultation and the GEC welcomes any feedback and insights.

The paper, titled “Surveying the ‘Green Economy’ and ‘Green Growth’ Landscape,” examines the current key players (from international institutions, through governments and the civil society to business) as well as the emerging trends and developments shaping the green economy landscape.

The paper concludes that there has been a rapid shift in the ‘green growth’ and ‘green economy’ agendas with even some mainstream economist and finance industries seeing an opportunity in green growth as a way out of economic stagnation. The paper further highlights that Rio+20 provided a much needed space for discussions on ‘green economy’ and that further UN discussions on this topic are vital for the international policy agenda.

The GEC also proposes that it is “critical for multi-stakeholder groups to work together to define and own the wider understanding of green economy – as one that tackles poverty and inequity and one that protects our natural systems.” It calls on coalitions and alliances to use their collective network, influence and experience to both complement and challenge the emerging agendas.

Link: GEC paper – working draft for consultation

World Bank to provide US$ 100 million loan in support of ‘green’ policy development in India Reply

The Government of Himachal Pradesh (HP), a mountain state in India, has been granted a US$ 100 million development policy loan from the World Bank to move towards an environmentally sustainable model of economic growth.

The loan to “Promote Inclusive Green Growth and Sustainable Development” will support the local government in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. The focus of the support program will be on the state’s key economic areas – energy, watershed management, industry and tourism.

Since Himachal Pradesh  is one of the country’s main sources of clean hydropower energy, the program will specifically support the protection of watersheds in the mountainous region and the development of sustainable hydropower.

A second development policy loan is expected to follow, with funding from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF).

Link: World Bank Press Release

‘New Economics and Happiness/Well-being’ events: August-October 2012 Reply

Here, we list some of the major upcoming events in the areas of ‘New Economics’ and/or ‘Happiness/Well-being’ to be held in the next three months.  As you will see, there are a number of interesting gatherings coming up this late summer/autumn.

August 2012

“Happiness, Compassion and Sustainability – A Strategic Gathering,” 24-25 August 2012, Seatle, US; at this conference, participants will learn about the vital new worldwide movement for happiness, find out about how to use the Happiness Initiative to improve your community, learn about the connection between happiness and sustainability, help plan “Pursuit of Happiness Day” (April 13) for 2013, and hear prominent authors; event sponsored by The Happiness Initiative, Take Back Your Time, The Compassionate Action Network and the Communications Department of Seattle University. http://www.happycounts.org/conf2012

September 2012

Second Global Happiness and Well-being Movement webinar, 21 September 2012; speaker: Jon Hall, of the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, http://www.happycounts.org/global-happiness-and-wellbeing-movement

3rd International Conference on Degrowth, 19-23 Sept 2012, Venice, Italy; The general theme of the conference Venezia 2012 on Degrowth and ecological sustainability and social justice is “The big transition: Degrowth as a passage of civilization,” http://www.venezia2012.it/?lang=en

October 2012

3rd Global Green Growth Forum – Copenhagen, 8-9 October 2012, theme “Resource Efficiency and Growth,” http://www.globalgreengrowthforum.com/news/3gf-in-the-media

2nd International Growth in Transition conference “How should we grow?” – Vienna, 8-10 October 2012, http://www.growthintransition.eu/conference2012

Inclusive Wealth Report 2012: UN’s new approach to measuring the sustainability of countries Reply

The United Nations University International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (UNU-IHDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the UN Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC) and the Natural Capital Project have released a new report, titled “Inclusive Wealth Report 2012” (IWR 2012) at the Rio+20 conference.

The report is first in a series of biennial reports aiming to track the sustainability of countries using a newly developed measure, the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI). The IWI aims to go beyond the present generation of short-term economic and development measures, such as the gross domestic product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI). The IWI has been developed to capture the full wealth of nations by looking into country’s capital assets, including manufactured, human and natural capital, and its corresponding values.

In the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012, twenty countries were assessed using the IWI over a period of 19 years (1990-2008). Together they represent more than half of the world population and almost three quarters of world GDP and include high, middle, and low-income economies on all continents.

Some of the key findings of the IWR 2012 included:

  • 70 percent of countries assessed  present a positive Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) per capita growth, indicating sustainability.
  • High population growth with respect to IWI growth rates caused 25 percent of countries assessed to become unsustainable.
  • While 19 out of the 20 countries experienced a decline in natural capital, six of them also saw a decline in their inclusive wealth, thus following an unsustainable track.
  • Human capital has increased in every country, being the prime capital form that offsets the decline in natural capital in most economies.
  • 25 percent of assessed countries, which showed a positive trend when measured by GDP per capita and the HDI, were found to have a negative IWI.
  • The primary driver of the difference in performance was the decline in natural capital.

Based on these key findings, the report offers a set of recommendations to national-level policy-makers. It calls on countries to:

  • Build up their investments in renewable natural capital
  • Mainstream the Inclusive Wealth Index within planning and developing ministries
  • Support/speed up the process of moving from an income-based accounting framework to a wealth accounting framework
  • Move away from GDP per capita
  • Establish research programs for valuing key components of natural capital, particularly ecosystem services.

The next issue of the Inclusive Wealth Report is expected to be released in 2014 with a special focus on social capital.

Link: UNU-IHDP Inclusive Wealth Report news

“Green Growth” getting stronger: GGGI to become an international organization Reply

Representatives of sixteen countries have gathered on June 20 at a side-event of the Rio+20 conference – Signing Ceremony for the Agreement on the Establishment of GGGI – to officially establish the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) as an international organization. The signatories of the Establishment Agreement – Australia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Guyana, Kiribati, Korea, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, the Philippines, Qatar, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam – will become the founding members of GGGI when it launches as a new international organization in October this year.

GGGI has been operational since 2010 with headquarters in Seoul, Republic of Korea. GGGI’s main aim has been to pioneer “Green Growth” as a new model of environmentally sustainable economic growth and its conversion into an international organization is a step forward to spread this economic model further around the world.

GGGI partners with developing countries and emerging economies, including least developed countries, to develop green growth strategies and plans that deliver poverty reduction, job creation and social inclusion in an environmentally sustainable way.  The Institute currently works in ten countries, including Brazil, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Thailand and UAE, and is expected to expand its set of partner countries in coming years.

Links: GGGI website

Ecologic Institute started to fill the gap on measures of sustainable industries Reply

The Ecologic Institute, a private not-for-profit think tank, has released a new report on resource efficiency indicators and their potential use for measuring progress towards sustainable industries. The report, titled “Integrating resource efficiency, greening of industrial production and green industries – scoping of and recommendations for effective indicators,” is the outcome of work undertaken by the Ecologic Institute as part of the process of establishing a Green Industry Platform by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 2012.

The authors of the report note that there currently appears to be a gap concerning indicators for measuring progress towards sustainable industries and sustainable industrial development (including the greening of industries, progress achieved in green industries, and greater resource efficiency in industrial production) and this report aims to contribute to filling this gap.

The report uses the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as an organizing framework for systematic evaluation of the existing indicators as a measure of resource efficiency. The 10 most promising indicators considered in this study are:

  • Environmentally weighted material consumption (EWC)
  • Energy intensity by sector
  • Production based CO2 productivity
  • Water consumption by sector
  • Sustainable Process Index (SPI)
  • Water abstraction rates and water stress
  • Corporations’ turnover, value added and exports of the environmental goods and services sector
  • Resource Productivity / Material Productivity
  • Total Material Consumption (TMC)
  • Ecological Footprint (EF)

The authors suggest that since there exist many different aspects of industrial production it is only logical to consider building a basket of indicators that jointly give a more comprehensive picture than any of the indicators could give alone. They propose 4 different dimensions of sustainable industrial development to be part of the basket, namely:

  • Protection of critical environmental goods and services;
  • Minimal environmental impacts;
  • Efficient resource-use; and
  • Social and economic aspects of industrial production.

Based on the reviews conducted in report the following indicators are proposed to be included in the basket:

  • EMC (or eco-efficiency or overall environmental impact indicator) to capture environmental impacts;
  • Energy intensity by sector and production-based CO 2 productivity to cover the critical environmental areas energy and climate change;
  • Water productivity by sector and water stress to capture resource efficiency for a second critical environmental resource; and
  • Resource productivity (or TMC over GDP) to capture resource efficiency.

The authors note that the social aspects of sustainable industry have not been within the scope of their analysis, but should be considered in the development of the basket. They also highlight that this scoping study did not provide the necessary frame to develop a fully fledged analysis or road-test the proposed indicator basket and that such research tasks should be undertaken in followup projects under the auspices of UNIDO.

Link: Ecologic Institute download site of the report

French Greens support “Degrowth” and happiness movement Reply

In a long interview published in Le Monde, a prominent Green politician in France clarified the position of his party — which holds two ministerial posts in the new government of President François Hollande — on the subject of growth.

Interviewer: What is the position of Europe Ecology-The Greens on degrowth?

Jean-Vincent Placé: We are for the degrowth of polluting and energy-devouring industries, intensive agriculture, air and road transportation, and if we are for growth, it is the growth of happiness!

[Original Q&A for French speakers – Q: Quelle est la position d’EELV sur la décroissance? A: Nous sommes pour la décroissance des industries polluantes et énergivores, de l’agriculture intensive ou du transport aérien et routier, et si nous sommes pour la croissance, c’est la croissance du bonheur !]

Jean-Vincent Placé is a French Senator representing Essone (the southern part of the Paris metropolitan area) and president of the first group of green parliamentarians in France.

Le Monde, 25 June 2012

New Happy Planet Index Report: Costa Rica tops the HPI for the second time Reply

Nef (the new economics foundation) has recently released “The Happy Planet Index: 2012 Report,” nef’s third global report based on one of the leading global measures of ‘sustainable well-being’, the Happy Planet Index (HPI).

HPI is a measure of progress that uses global data on experienced well-being, life expectancy, and Ecological Footprint to generate an index revealing which countries are most efficient at producing long, happy lives for their inhabitants, whilst maintaining the conditions for future generations to do the same. This efficiency is expressed in the number of Happy Life Years (life expectancy adjusted for experienced well-being) achieved per unit of resource use.

The results in this year’s report show that we are still not living on a ‘happy planet’ (similarly as the results in the past reports -published in 2006 and 2009 – suggested). At the present time, no country is able to combine success across the three goals of high life expectancy, high experienced well-being and living within environmental limits. The positive news is that at least some countries, like Costa Rica, are coming close.

In fact, Costa Rica tops the Happy Planet Index for the second time in a row. It has the second highest life expectancy in the Americas, experienced well-being higher than many richer nations, and a per capita Ecological Footprint one third the size of the USA’s. Norway, in 29th place out of 151 countries, is the highest ranking Western European nation, just behind New Zealand in 28th place. The UK ranks 41st and the USA ranks 105th out of 151 countries.

Nic Marks of nef highlights that “overall, the HPI reflects the fact that while the challenges faced by rich resource-intensive nations and those with high levels of poverty and deprivation may be very different, the end goal is the same: to create long and happy lives that don’t cost the Earth.” He also notes that “if things are to improve we need new official measures of progress” [italics added]. This is why nef came up with the Happy Planet Charter alongside the report to underline the urgent need for better measures of progress. More information on this can be obtained at the Happy Planet Index website.

Link:

Happy Planet Index website

The World Bank calls for Inclusive Green Growth Reply

The World Bank has released a new report, titled “Inclusive Green Growth – The Pathway to Sustainable Development,” at the Global Green Growth Summit in Seoul in early May.

The report challenges governments to change their approach to growth policies, measuring not only what is being produced, but what is being used up and polluted in the process. It argues that sustained growth is necessary to achieve the urgent development needs of the world’s poor and that there is substantial scope for growing cleaner without growing slower. It also noted that green growth requires improved indicators to monitor economic performance.

The report focuses on 5 main points:

  • Greening growth – it is suggested this is necessary, efficient, and affordable, and critical to achieving sustainable development
  • Chief obstacles to greening growth, such as political barriers, entrenched behaviors and norms, and a lack of financing instruments
  • Multi-disciplinary solutions to overcome constraints and ensure progress
  • Green growth ‘variability’ – it is pointed out that strategies will vary across countries
  • Green growth not being inherently inclusive – it is highlighted that green growth policies must be carefully designed to be inclusive, by maximizing benefits for, and minimizing costs to, the poor and most vulnerable to avoid irreversible negative impacts

At the Global Green Growth Summit, the Government of Korea announced a partnership with the World Bank Group and pledged $40 million to further promote green growth.

Links: World Bank News