Q & A: What is a “Green Economy”? (WRI)

World Resources Institute / April 2011

World Resources InstituteThe World Resources Institute provides an introduction to what a green economy is and what it would take to get there.

In a way the green economy is a continuation of work towards sustainable development but in a new context where there is more awareness of market and institutional failures. These failures are becoming more obvious due to the global financial crisis (which has led to a questioning of growth and GDP) and greater understanding that we are reaching planetary limits in terms of environmental degradation and climate change. 

WRI highlights efforts towards a green economy in the Republic of Korea (5 year green growth plan), China (huge investments in renewable energy), Mexico (efficient transport systems) and in Namibia (community use of the environment).

There are significant challenges to moving towards a green economy including political will, public awareness, going beyond GDP and potential “green” trade barriers.

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Selected quotes from the article

“A Green Economy can be thought of as an alternative vision for growth and development; one that can generate growth and improvements in people’s lives in ways consistent with sustainable development. A Green Economy promotes a triple bottom line: sustaining and advancing economic, environmental and social well-being. 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.”

“The principal challenge is how we move towards an economic system that will benefit more people over the long run. Transitioning to a Green Economy will require a fundamental shift in thinking about growth and development, production of goods and services, and consumer habits. This transition will not happen solely because of better information on impacts, risks or good economic analysis; ultimately, it is about politics and changing the political economy of how big decisions are made.”


This summary was prepared by Why Green Economy?. The views expressed have been paraphrased. See the original source for more information.

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