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"reflections" on a "GREEN ECONOMY" by Achim Steiner,
U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNEP
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"Green" is a nice color;

"New" sounds promising; A "Deal" means business! So, a "New Green Deal" must be something very good, so good that UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other world organisations turned it into "THE BIG NEW DEAL."

"Development" is good; "Sustainable" is fashion, the omnipotent word that can be added to anything that needs promotion and upgrading.
After all, the goal of UNEP and Our Planet is to promote "Sustainable Development". And they are doing a fine job, in close partnership with business. One could even make the operation more efficient, by merging UNEP with UNDP, because the differences between the Environment Programme under the leadership of Achim Steiner and the Development Programme are minimal.

Mr Achim Steiner's "reflections" are about "sustainable growth" (sic!).
We wonder whether it is Mr Steiner's personal advisor, Mr John Scanlon, or the U.N. Under-Secretary-General and UNEP's Executive Director, Mr Steiner himself, who believe that growth can be sustained in a confined environment.
Every child understands that there are limits. Why would these honorable gentlemen not understand that you can't carry on growing, especially on a world that already has so many and huge environmental problems?

Do these gentlemen really believe growth can be immaterial, that we could build another motorway for us in the North, or even a simple water hole for destitute people in the South, without using additional non-renewable resources?

"Green" is nothing more than a color. Calling growth green is irresponsible greenwashing and delusion of the general public.
"Green Growth" or "Sustainable Growth" are also the result of circular ways of pseudo-environmental "reflections" by persons who are almost exclusively from the ranks of economists and business people and politicians, the so-called BPE Compact. (Business, Politics and the discipline of Economics). Environmental scientists are hardly ever invited. Specialists from Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace are never invited to the public and not so public debates. The present Global Environment Governance" Forum (new window ) is a case in point. Even journalists were not admitted.

What can we expect from leaders who answer the threatening forecasts of an imminent decline of fossil fuel extraction with silence and calls for hope, optimism and technology ?

Why should we believe their expectations of a green future with yet-to-be-invented technologies in the 21st century, whereas natural resources and minerals are being depleted at an ever higher rate because of growth?

So, in sum what can we expect for our human future, if the BPE Compact pushes for more growth on a finite and overloaded planet?

Helmut Lubbers ... 2 July 2009
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    by Achim Steiner, U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNEP February 2009, in "Our Planet" (new window )                                    top of page Globalisation does not just spread economic ups - and the current deep downs - rapidly across the globe. It can do the same for compelling and transformational ideas. As ministers gather in Nairobi for the Governing Council, two concepts being developed by UNEP are emerging as a powerful antidote to the economic gloom: the 'Global Green New Deal' and a transition to a global Green Economy. Together, they offer a way of overcoming short-term economic woes while setting the stage for sustainable growth in the 21st century, with markets rewarding nations and companies that invest in decent employment, innovation, resource efficiency and creativity.

    The President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, for example, recently announced 36 'Green New Deals' to "ease people's pain and create jobs", featuring such initiatives as creating high-speed railways and big networks of bicycle tracks and providing two million energy-saving 'Green Homes'. Power plants powered by gas from waste and forestry biomass are also planned, as is developing the next generation of hybrid vehicle technologies. The four-year stimulus package will create nearly one million new jobs, contribute to combating climate change and lay the groundwork for further economic growth.

    China's $570 billion stimulus package also includes a Green New Deal. No new factory or project will be permitted if it is highly polluting, or is a heavy consumer of energy or resources. One trillion yuan ($142 billion) is to be spent over the next three years on such environmental improvements as accelerating forest planting programmes and increasing energy conservation and pollution-control. There will also be preferential pricing aimed at increasing the share of renewables from 8.3 per cent of energy in 2007 to 15 per cent in 2020 and investments to switch commodities and people from road to rail.

    Among many other examples, the United Kingdom's stimulus package to create 100,000 jobs includes investments in such climate-friendly projects as solar, wind and wave power, electric cars and improved energy efficiency in homes and offices. Prime Minister Gordon Brown says that: "The environment is not being pushed off the agenda" by the recession, but is "part of the solution".

    Importantly, the new President of the United States has made a Green New Deal a key foundation of an economic and employment recovery programme. This aims to promote energy from renewable sources and energy conservation, including by raising vehicle fuel economy standards and subsidising purchases of plug-in hybrid cars, to 'weatherise' one million homes annually and upgrade the nation's electrical grid. The package will create an estimated five million jobs and deliver much-needed leadership on climate change.

    At the Governing Council we look forward to hearing further examples of how countries are embracing a green economic transformation. Collecting and disseminating shining examples of smart market mechanisms and creative financial instruments is one of the central goals of the UNEP's new Green Economy initiative. Next year we plan to publish a guide and tool-kits for both Northern and Southern governments, showcasing the kinds of legal and fiscal changes and reforms that can help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable 21st century global economy. And during this year we also plan to publish policy options on such topics as rural energy and renewables - with others, such as on ecosystem restoration, sustainable transport and urban economies, in the pipeline. These reports draw on a unique partnership we are building with UN organisations and economic and policy think-tanks.

    Over the coming months governments will inject hundreds of billions of dollars to stimulate economies. Soon trillions of dollars, now sitting on the sidelines, are likely to be mobilised back into markets by investors. Will this investment go into the old brown economy of the 20th century or the new  green 21st century one?

    The multiple crises of 2008 and the ones looming - from climate change to natural resource scarcity, - require a fundamental re-think and re-focusing of how a globalised world orders its affairs. The Green Economy is an idea whose time has come - and one that seems to be taking root, capturing the imagination of leaders and civil society around the world.

    Cover photo (©) PETER GINTER / Science Faction / Getty Images. A 'Green Economy' is what we want to see. In this time of global financial turmoil, a warming Earth and inefficient energy generation and use, the best path to take, and the one discussed in this issue of Our Planet, leads to more jobs, clean energy and a better world for ail. The new 'big deal' as outlined in this magazine, offers hope, opportunity and several solutions.