The theme for the 40th World Environment Day – Green Economy: Does it include you? – is aimed at encouraging public participation in the adoption of a new growth model that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.
However, while recognizing the importance of individual responsibility, it should be noted that it is policymakers around the world who will be held accountable for the lack of progress in achieving sustainable and equitable development.
With the world economy yet to see any light at the end of tunnel after the onset of the global financial crisis, it is high time policymakers from all countries aggressively embraced green growth as the only way to deliver a cleaner, greener and more sustainable 21st century.
A global transition to a green economy has been underway since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil in 1992. But there is mounting evidence that the transition to a green economy is not happening fast enough.
Global sustainable development has been seriously challenged by rapid population growth, increasing poverty, unequal North-South development, severe pollution, the reduction in biodiversity, desertification and global climate change.
There is still no international consensus on global food security or on ways to nourish a population of 9 billion by 2050.
Worse, the worst global financial crisis since 1930s has not only dampened global growth prospects, it has also pushed policymakers in debt-laden rich countries to either choose growth-depressing austerity or inflation-fueling monetary easing.
The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or “Rio+20″ is to be held soon, but policymakers in these countries are still shying away from the painful, but necessary, structural reforms that will make the green economy the bedrock of their future prosperity.
China issued its first national report on sustainable development last Friday, which underscored the urgency of transforming its development pattern.
To pursue a sustainable future for all, the international community should jointly make the World Environment Day a wake-up call for policy changes to improve people’s well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
- Switching to a green economy could mean millions of jobs, says UN (guardian.co.uk)
- Rio+20 … A green economy without poverty (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Britain is rising to the challenge of greening our economy | Caroline Spelman (guardian.co.uk)
- ‘Green Economy’ – New Disguise for Old Tricks? (climate-connections.org)
- Memo to Rio+20: ‘green economy’ doesn’t mean monetising nature (guardian.co.uk)
- Venezuelan Declaration Toward RIO + 20: Against the Green Economy (climate-connections.org)
- Sustainable development flourishing in Wales’s green economy (bfreenews.com)
- The UN Plan for the World: Global Carbon Taxes, Global Safety Nets And A One World Green Economy (activistpost.com)
- Celebrate World Environment Day Using Eco-Friendly Promotional Products (prweb.com)
In June 2012, Brazil will host the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20. China Daily reports.
The time is right: there are clear signs that the current development models must be reformulated.Countries - regardless of their wealth - face serious economic and financial crises, socialinequality, hunger, unemployment, losses in biodiversity and climate change. These multiple crisespoint to the timely and urgent need to implement sustainable development models: national projectsthat take a balanced and integrated approach to economic growth, social inclusion andenvironmental protection.
Rio+20 will be an opportunity to hold this discussion at the highest level. The conference will befundamentally different from its predecessor, Rio 92. The summit held 20 years ago representedthe final stages of long negotiation processes that culminated in the signing of important documentsand conventions. While Rio 92 was a destination point, Rio+20 may be considered a point ofdeparture. Rio+20 looks to the future, building a new sustainable development agenda.
One of Brazil’s priorities in Rio+20 will be discussing the eradication of poverty and thestrengthening of financial and technological flows in order to implement sustainable developmentcommitments, which require significant public, private and political resources.
The Rio+20 agenda is organized around two major subjects. The first is a green economy in thecontext of sustainable development and poverty eradication. On this, a general agreement has beenemerging among the different countries on a few aspects: there is not one single model for a greeneconomy; and one must not think about a green economy without taking into account theeradication of poverty, that is, without pursuing social inclusion goals.
Each country will create its own green economy design, based on its national realities, theresources available, and the development challenges it faces. In Brazil, for example, the greeneconomy will be based on the widespread use of renewable energy, as well as on effectivelycombating deforestation and raising income levels for millions of Brazilians. The adoption of asingle standard green economy for all nations could potentially create distortions, such as tradebarriers, which would deepen the disparities among countries, aggravating social problems,particularly in developing countries.
The second subject is governance for sustainable development. In other words, it is necessary toadapt the framework of the UN system so as to strengthen multilateralism, reduce the democraticdeficit and provide greater integration among the social, economic and environmental aspects ofsustainable development.
Rio+20 may decisively contribute to tackling global warming, because sustainable development isthe best answer to the challenges associated with climate change. Brazil, China and the otherpartners of the BASIC Group, South Africa and India, have played a key role in the recent DurbanConference, contributing, through their leadership, to the achievement of positive results. Thanks toDurban, the conditions are now set for a constructive exchange on global warming at Rio+20,which could potentially strengthen the international system regarding climate change. This shouldclearly be achieved without duplicating intergovernmental negotiations, whose legitimate forum isthe United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The world looks to Brazil, the host of Rio+20, for leadership. We will not shy away from this task,for which we have solid credentials, bearing in mind our experience in areas such as clean andrenewable energies, as well as inclusive economic growth policies. Brazil has demonstrated that itis possible to grow and to include, while protecting and preserving.
As Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff mentioned in January 2012, at the World Social Forum inPorto Alegre: after Rio+20, we want the word ”development” to always be associated to theadjective ”sustainable”.
The author is the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Green economy a key sticking point in Rio+20 talks (devex.com)
- ITU calls for inclusion of ICT at Rio+20 Summit (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- Countries agree to extend negotiations on Rio+20 outcome document (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- What’s the Agenda for the Rio+20 Conference? (thegoodhuman.com)
- Rio+20 (slideshare.net)
- Youth Involvement Surges In Lead Up To Rio+20 Earth Summit (thinkprogress.org)
- May 2012 (felixdodds.net)
- Rio+20 talk point: your message to the summit on the future you want (bfreenews.com)
- UNCTAD rolls trade message for Rio+20 Summit (ghanabusinessnews.com)
- Mashable Is Heading to Brazil for Rio+Social (mashable.com)
In June 2012, experts will meet to set the agenda for a sustainable future at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit 2012). The summit is also known as Rio+20 because it is being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20 years on from the first momentous Earth Summit which also took place there.
Your questions and comments will form an important part of these discussions, which will be webcast live from the Natural History Museum in spring 2012. Find out about the 4 debate themes below and get involved.
- Green Jobs for Youth: Recommendations for the Earth Summit (switchboard.nrdc.org)
- Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Sha Zukang, Chief Surui and Others Talk About Crucial Importance of Environmental Information (multivu.prnewswire.com)
- UN chief: ‘with 7 billion people we’ve run out of new forests and rivers’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Can Knowledge Save Us From Climate Change? (greenprophet.com)
- Twenty Years of Climate Meetings, Through the Eyes of a Veteran Journalist – Discover Magazine (blog) (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Urgent Agenda 21 Meeting (mississippicoal.wordpress.com)
- Over-the-Top Climate Rhetoric (nofrakkingconsensus.com)
- Email from UNFCCC: “we won’t let Canada out of the Kyoto Convention” (wattsupwiththat.com)
- A moment of discovery and awe (ushahidi.com)
- UN regrets Canada’s Kyoto withdrawal – Sydney Morning Herald (news.smh.com.au)
Some ideas and resources from around the globe…
FORESTS: NATURE AT YOUR SERVICE | 05 JUNE
Have you been meaning to start buying organic, to turn off your lights, or to start recycling but just haven’t gotten around to it? Now’s the time! This weekend, citizens of every nation will join together to celebrate World Environment Day.
India will host the 39th annual World Environment Day (WED) on June 5, an international event aimed at global awareness that encourages political action and attention to initiatives.
The UN declared 2011 the International Year of Forests with this year’s WED theme “Forests: Nature at your Service.” In an effort to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and maintainable development of all types of forests, WED aims to develop green economies, conserve forests and insure that they will be around for generations to come.
India‘s 1.2 billion people have put a significant strain on the country’s forests, but the Indian government has continually worked to find solutions to combat the deforestation. They have successfully introduced projects that track the health of the nation’s plants, animals, water and other natural resources, including the Sunderbans – the largest deltaic mangrove forest in the world.
This Sunday, June 5th, India will join together millions of people from hundreds of countries around the world to highlight environmental activities that can teach individuals, schools, communities, states and nations to clean up their act and start thinking green.
Beginning today, major events are planned in New Delhi and Bangalore and include a “Public Dedication of Tree Plantation to India for WED Legacy” in Juanapur, Mehrauli, Delhi. A Biodiversity Film Festival in New Delhi will showcase some of India’s best environmental and reforestation efforts, and viewers will have a chance to speak with environmental experts after the screenings.
25,000 runners will flood the streets of Bangalore on June 5th in the World 10K in support of WED. After the race, organizers and participants will inaugurate a ‘World 10K Forest’ at the Madiwala Lake complex in Bangaluru.
An organic and forest food celebrity cookout at the ITC Windsor Hotel in Bangaluru with goodwill ambassadors Gisele Bundchen, Don Cheadle, Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra and Rahul Bose, as well as Chinese actress Li Bingbing and entrepreneur Wang Shi, will highlight the stars’ efforts for conservation. For every WED activity registered, you can pledge to Don or Gisele, Priyanka or Rahul, Li Bingbing or Wang Shi, depending on your location. For every pledged activity, the women will donate one tree. Not to be rivaled, the men will donate two.
If you, your business, school, group or town want to get involved in WED you can register your green initiatives or pledge an action at http://www.unep.org/wed/aroundtheworld/
A number of other countries around the world are joining in to support the cause, including:
NEPAL: UNEP is supporting a clean-up expedition to remove an estimated 9 tons of litter in and around Mount Everest. Enlisting some 60 climber volunteers, the long-term aim of the initiative is to develop more sustainable waste management facilities and recycling plants in the region.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: A major international summit on tropical forest basins will be held from 31 May to 6 June. The event will focus on the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in the Amazon, Congo and Mekong Borneo basins.
CANADA: Toronto is the regional host city for World Environment Day celebrations in North America. Over 50 WED events have been registered including environmental workshops for students, a high-level consultation on the Green Economy with 40 environmental leaders, and a series of book readings for children.
COSTA RICA: A major success story in reforestation (having increased its forest cover from 22 percent in 1995 to 51 percent by 2010), Costa Rica will host participants from 15 neighboring countries for a training course on sustainable forest management.
Launched today, the ‘MudaRock Project’ – a free music download service in Brazil - will plant a tree in a reforestation area in Brazil for every song or video downloaded by users. The project aims to plant one million native trees within a year.
You can also learn how to live a greener life year-round with simple actions like:
- Switching from plastic to a reusable cloth bag.
- Turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth (you can save as much as 3 gallons every time!).
- Green your office: print double sided, turn off monitors, start an office recycling program.
- Bike, walk, take public transportation or carpool to work or school.
- Jog outside to save energy that would be used on a treadmill.
- Plant a tree.
- Get a lunch box instead of brown-bagging or eating out of takeout containers.
- Start a compost heap.
- Buy local fruits and veggies, or start your own garden.
- Think outside of the bottle. Bottled water costs 1900 times more than tap water!
For more ideas on how to help the environment, visit http://www.unep.org/wed/A-Z/
- Calling all green bloggers : last chance to cover World Environment Day (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- World Environment Day: Cross River to plant 5m trees (vanguardngr.com)
- India to host UNEP (chimalaya.org)
- IEEE Experts: Global Sustainability Requires Technology Advances for Tomorrow, Behavior Changes Today (prnewswire.com)
- UNEP & TreeHugger Announce World Environment Day Blogging Competition, Trip to India (treehugger.com)