How does Green Economy differ from previous efforts to promote sustainability – what is new?
In many ways, Green Economy objectives simply support those already articulated for the broader goal of sustainable development. But this new framing responds to two recent developments.
First, there is a deeper appreciation today by many governments, companies, civil society and the public that we are reaching planetary limits, not just in terms of greenhouse gas emissions but also in our use of water, land, forests and other natural resources. The environmental and social costs of our current economic model are becoming more and more apparent.
Second, and perhaps even more important, the global recession has led to a reconsideration of key tenets of the current economic model – such as the primacy of growth and the belief in light-touch regulation. In openly questioning the strength of the status quo, many public- and private-sector leaders are seeking:
Policies and regulations that can identify and manage financial and other risks more effectively New markets and industries that can create good, long-term jobs Public support for innovation to position a country to compete in tomorrow’s markets
These developments point to the need for new sources of growth that are environmentally sustainable – for example, employment in high-growth sectors such as clean energy. Past sustainability efforts have not focused sufficiently on fixing the failures of economic policies such as pricing pollution. But we now have a chance to tackle these challenging problems given the policy openings created by the response to the financial crisis. A good example is Korea’s adoption of a national green growth strategy.
Some see marrying sources of new growth with sustainability as the future. Why is China investing in wind? To win tomorrow’s markets, not necessarily to compete in today’s. As the late C. K. Prahalad – a visionary on corporate strategy ―was fond of saying, “we need to move from seeing sustainability as a cost or hindrance to realizing that it’s a key driver of innovation”.