UN launches new initiative to stimulate ‘green’ market growth

22 October 2008 – Boosting investment in clean technologies and natural resources is the best way to spur real global economic growth, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the world’s leading economists said today in London at the launch of the new Green Economic Initiative.

The $4 million scheme seeks to seize the historic opportunity to shift the focus of the global economy towards environmentally-friendly investments to simultaneously tackle climate change and trigger employment expansion.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said that 2008’s triple financial, fuel and food crises are partly due to speculation and governments’ failure to “intelligently manage” markets, as well as leading to losses of nature-based assets and an over-reliance on finite fossil fuels.

“The flip side of the coin is the enormous economic, social and environmental benefits likely to arise from combating climate change and re-investing in natural infrastructure – benefits ranging from new green jobs in clean tech and clean energy businesses up to ones in sustainable agriculture and conservation-based enterprises.”

Mr. Steiner appealed for “transformational thinking” ahead of the November follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development in Doha, Qatar, along with the proposed summit called for by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the next round of UN climate change talks in Poznan, Poland, in December.

Unless “transformative decisions” are taken, “the alternative is more boom and bust cycles: a climate-stressed world and a collapse of fish stocks and fertile soils up to forest ecosystems – vast, natural ‘utilities’ that for a fraction of the cost of machines store water and carbon, stabilize soils,” and sustain indigenous and rural livelihoods.

The Green Economy Initiative has three main pillars: boosting the potential of nature worldwide, stimulating job growth, and clarifying the actions that can be taken to speed up the shift to a more environmentally-friendly economy.

Within the next two years, it expects to deliver to all governments – of both developed and developing countries – a comprehensive guide on how to make the transition.

The scheme has identified clean energy and technologies; sustainable agriculture; ecosystem infrastructure; reduced emissions; and sustainable urban planning as the five sectors most likely to generate the greatest returns.

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