A green economy is simply an economy that lays strong emphasis on the balance between wealth creation and the preservation of nature. This method is aversed to the depletion of nature in a bid to make a profit which has been the norm for a while now. This economy focuses significantly on diminishing ecological shortages, risks in the environment and increasing the management of sustainable materials in the natural environment ecosystem. A green economy has a tripod stand which is improving the economy of a location, the ecosystem and ensuring total wellbeing of the people in that environment (Unmüßig, Sachs, Fatheuer 2012, p.26).
Popular economic models thrive on increasing the gross domestic product of countries at the detriment of every other thing. This approach has yielded tremendous results in the area of reducing poverty and increasing the income of many people living in those areas. Unfortunately, these approaches come with a heavy price of almost irreversible economic, social and most importantly environmental costs.
In an assessment carried out worldwide recently, it was discovered that almost 60% of the world’s entire ecosystem was depleted or unsustainably used. In addition to this, the rich-poor gap has increased highly between 1991 and 2006. This gap which is a measure of the distance between the lowest earners and the highest earners in each country increased by more than 70% of the countries in the world. These concerns about the implications of these one-sided economic practices were what birthed the concept of the green economy which strives to achieve the harmony among economy of a location, the ecosystem and ensuring total wellbeing of the people in that environment.
Background of the green economy
The terminology green economy was first used in a report done for the united kingdom’s government by a team of environmental economists in 1989, this report was called Blueprint for a Green Economy (Pearce, Markandya and Barbier, 1989, p.125). This report aimed to advise the government of the United Kingdom about the consequences of using sustainable-development as a yardstick for measuring the progress of various economies and in judging how well a project or policy was executed. In 2008, the United Nations Environment (UNE) decided to start the GEI (Green economy initiative). This initiative is made up of but not exclusive to research on a global level, nationwide assistance given to lawmakers to adopt investments into the environment that are on par with sustainable-development. This initiative alongside the actions of many agencies led to the placement of the green economy in the light of the eradication of poverty and sustainable-development on Brazil’s +20 agenda.
Since the meeting in Brazil twelve years ago, over seventy countries or more around the world have embraced the concept of the green economy. Those who are yet to take up the reins of responsibility for this issue have made it their top priority. These include many non-governmental agencies and the government of the world. These government were able to achieve this ensuring that their economies become the front runners for sustainability. These economies will be poised to tackle the major 21st-century challenges which include urbanization, high emission of carbon and CFCs, Climate change and the likes.
Principles of the green economy
The need for every country on the blue marble planet to embrace a green economy cannot be overemphasized seeing the results the economy has yielded in the countries that had embraced it. It is also noteworthy that the green economy enables all forms of life within the spheres of its ecology to flourish. The green economy thrives on a framework of five principles, these principles are drawn from key international policies antecedents which when put together can serve as pathways to multifaceted economic reforms. The key five principles include(Allen, Clouth, 2012 p.25):
- The Wellbeing Principle
A green economy acts as an enabler for its inhabitants to produce and enjoy wealth. The green economy is a people-oriented economy whose true aim is to establish real and all-inclusive prosperity. This prosperity will support the total wellbeing of its people. It is not only about financials, it encapsulates the totality of social, natural, human and physical capitals. A green economy makes a proper investment, unrestricted access to sustainable systems of nature, infrastructure, holistic knowledge and total education required for the prosperity of its people as a top priority. As a result of this; green jobs, decent enterprises and other mouth-watering opportunities are given to the people. The concept is designed for the good of the masses yet this common good is reliant on the decisions of a few individuals at the helm of affairs.
- The Justice Principle
The green economy is a nondiscriminatory economy that is built on the foundations of equity and equality among the people. It tries to ensure that no group or sect is left out hence diversifies its decision making, supports children and women empowerment, prevents the total dominion of the elite and so on. This economy also promotes equal distribution of opportunities among the people, reduces the poor-rich gap, and ensures that wildlife and nature reserves are well preserved. Hence nothing is left out. It is built on the promotion of human rights, worker’s rights, rights of the indigents in the society, social justice and sustainable-development’s rights. It also ensures the empowerment of sustained livelihoods, small and medium scale enterprises, and social enterprises.
- The Planetary Boundaries Principle
The green economy encourages thorough safeguarding, restoration, and investment in nature. It recognizes the multifaceted values of nature which include its cultural values that bind different societies, its functional values that is the underlying factor responsible for the growth of the economy in the form of providing goods and services and most importantly its ecological value that supports life itself. The green economy understands that there is a limit to which natural commodities can be substituted with other commodities especially in the area of production, hence it takes precaution in harvesting natural resources to avoid the depletion or a total loss of these natural resources and stretching the ecosystem beyond its limit. Due to the awareness of this limit, a green economy invests a lot in the protection, growth, and the restoration of water, biodiversity, soil, air and natural systems. It employs its creativity in the management of natural ecosystems by engaging its circularity properties and alignment with the local neighbourhood on issues regarding nature and biodiversity.
- The Efficiency and Sufficiency Principle
The green economy is fashioned in such a way that it supports a harmony between sustainable-production and sustainable-consumption. It achieves this by thriving on the dynamics of circularity, low carbon, biodiversity, and conservation of resources. It makes sure that it stays within the planetary boundaries in its venture of wealth creation. It puts in places a borderline distinction between benchmark of the consumption of goods and services enough for the dignity and wellbeing of the people and the unacceptable consumption peaks or simply put as wastages. It sets in motion legislation and dues against indiscriminate pollution of the environment and making the defaulters pay to those who are at the forefront of ensuring the delivery of these green economy.
- The Good Governance Principle
The green economy also centres around accountability, integrity and institutions that are very resilient. This economy is based on satisfying pieces of evidence gathered from different nations that had embraced its ideals. It has revealed that it has interdisciplinary ideals and institutions that arms itself with economics and sound science for adaptive strategies. It puts in place financial systems that can render proper wellbeing and sustainability services with only the interest of the people at heart. It always craves the indulgence of the people in decision-making processes, seeks for the people’s consent, ensures proper transparency, honesty and accountability in all its dealing with its people. These are put in place to ensure that the leadership in power reflects the true demands of the people in the society.
The green economy is indeed a universal agent of transformation to the status-quo on the global scenes, as these will affect the already highly sophisticated other economic methods that have so far enriched only a few at the detriment of the working indigents and the environment. To get this to happen it will require a lot of sensitivity by both the united nations and top world government to make it top priorities in their respective countries. It will not be easy to achieve as change is always known to be difficult but it should be given utmost attention as it is our only shot at achieving the sustainable development goals and saving planet earth.
- Allen,C., Clouth, S.(2012), Green Economy, Green Growth, and Low-Carbon Development , A guidebook to the Green Economy Issue 1, 20-26.
- Pearce,D., Markandya,A., and Barbier,E. (1989), Blueprint for a Green Economy, Earthscan Publications., UK.
- Unmüßig, B., Sachs, W.,Fatheuer, T.(2012), Critique of the Green Economy,Toward Social and Environmental Equity, Heinrich Böll Foundation., Germany.
Author: Promise Akabudu