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October 29, 2008
UNEP Launches Green Economy Initiative as Green New Deal
    by Robert Kropp

United Nations program warns against retreat from sustainability and proposes global economy based on environment and natural infrastructure.

Rejecting notions that the current economic crisis mandates a retreat from the embrace of sustainable business practices, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) introduced its Green Economy Initiative with a call for reinvestment in natural infrastructure.

According to Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, the benefits of combating climate change include "new green jobs in clean tech and clean energy businesses up to ones in sustainable agriculture and conservation-based enterprises."

Recognizing that "the economic models of the 20th century are now hitting the limits of what is possible," Pavan Sukdhev, a senior banker from Deutsche Bank who is seconded to UNEP to lead the research, said, "Investments will soon be pouring back into the global economy - the question is whether they go into a new green economy."

The Green Economy Initiative is inspired by the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt, which ended the 1930s depression and sent the world economy into an era of growth for most of the last 70 years.

According to the UNEP, "The Green Economy initiative has three pillars - valuing and mainstreaming nature's services into national and international accounts; employment generation through green jobs and the laying out the policies; instruments and market signals able to accelerate a transition to a Green Economy."

The sectors most likely to lead the transition to economic returns, environmental sustainability and job creation are clean energy and clean technologies, renewables and sustainable biomass, sustainable agriculture, ecosystem infrastructure, reduced emissions, and sustainable cities.

Within 18 to 24 months, the UNEP expects to deliver a comprehensive assessment and tool kit for making the transition to a green economy. In the meantime, according to Steiner, "Transformative ideas need to be discussed and transformative decisions taken" in upcoming conferences such as the Financing for Development Review Conference, to be held in Qatar beginning on November 29.


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