by Janez Potočnik, EU Environment Commissioner
World leaders will gather next week in
Why is the conference important and why the aspirations for a ‘green economy’? A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Growth in a green economy is driven by investments that reduce pressures on the environment and the services it provides us, while enhancing energy and resource efficiency.
Or put simpler, to quote an African diplomat: it is our own survival strategy. The green economy is a means to sustainable development; a strategy to get prosperity for people and the planet, today and tomorrow. There can be no sustainable development without social equity; no growth without proper management of our natural resources that our economies depend on. We need sustainable development to achieve prosperity for many instead of misery for all.
We have made quite some progress since 1992, but clearly not enough. Millions are still hungry every day. If we carry on using resources at the current rate, by 2050 we will need the equivalent of more than two planets to sustain us, and the aspirations of many for a better quality of life will not be reached.
The poorest in our societies will suffer most if we use our resources unsustainably as their lives and livelihoods depend very directly on water, land, seas, forests and soil. There are new and emerging challenges that pose a serious threat to sustainable development – from climate change and increasing water scarcity to low resilience to natural disasters and biodiversity and ecosystem loss.
However, we have the tools to tackle these challenges and turn them into opportunities. Many countries can leapfrog to efficient technologies and systems that will permit them to exploit their resources, from forests and biodiversity to land and minerals, in ways that are sustainable and capable of supporting increases in consumption. Between 70 and 85% of opportunities to boost resource productivity are estimated to be in developing countries. Countries that learn to use their natural capital in a smart and sustainable way will be the winners of tomorrow. The transformation to a greener economy could generate 15 to 60 million additional jobs globally over the next two decades and lift tens of millions of workers out of poverty, according to a report by the International Labour Organisation.
This is why the European Union will continue to fight for
While many countries are in better shape today compared to twenty years ago, the world’s poorest will still need help getting access to education, the right infrastructure and skills. This is why the EU remains the biggest donor of aid in the world. In 2011 we gave 53€ billion in development aid – more than half of the aid in the entire world. And this is why we will stick to our promises. Despite the current financial crisis, the EU countries recently reaffirmed this commitment, which would translate into an important additional development aid by 2015, including for projects related to the
So what kind of future do we want? Here’s the answer from 17-year old Brittany Trilford from