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The six industries that are crucial to sustainable economic development



The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) recently picked out six sectors, and the ‘greening’ of which can ensure long-term prosperity for developing countries: agriculture, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism.

UNEP said nations that rely on natural resources need to learn how to manage their trade sustainably. They have to “green their economy”.

However, ‘going green’ may not be enough. It is important to remember the global context in which economies operate in the 21st century, and the issues that these sectors might attract. A move towards sustainability in these six areas is more than welcome, but there might be a few obstacles along the way.


About the first, agriculture, the UNEP report says, “The global market for organic food and beverages is projected to grow to $105 billion by 2015, compared to $62.9 billion in 2011.”

However, agriculture is a large contributor to climate change, accounting for around 10-12% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Growing crops to feed cattle to feed developed countries has led to massive deforestation in South America, among other places, together with a significant loss of biodiversity.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said, “Agricultural [greenhouse gas] mitigation options are found to be cost competitive with non-agricultural options (energy, transportation, forestry) in achieving long-term climate objectives.”

The organic market is certainly growing, but so is the global population. It will not be easy to meet everyone’s needs, especially if levels of consumption and waste of food and resources remain on their current path.


The second sector analysed is fisheries and aquaculture. The report says that revenues from sustainably certified seafood are forecasted to increase to $1.25 billion by 2015.

A sustainable fishery is a one that is exploited at a slower pace to avoid species decline. Unfortunately, the current situation of our oceans is very delicate.

Industrial fisheries still own the largest share of the market and unsustainable practices have led to severe problems such as habitat changes and ocean pollution.

The possible EU ban on fish discarding – when unsuitable fish are thrown back into the sea by commercial fishing operations, often dead or dying – would be a welcome first step in eradicating this problem.


Forestry is another sector that needs to be managed responsibly in order to avoid deforestation activities. Forests play a crucial role in ensuring social and economic development, as well as literally keeping the planet alive.


Manufacturing is not an industry entirely safe from illegal practices or unethical business. Strong regulation that makes sure tragedies like the one in Bangladesh last month don’t happen again is vital.

In this industry, though, consumer power is arguably the biggest driver of change of all. If you stop buying products from the worst offenders, they’re going to have to change their ways.

Renewable energy

While investment in clean energy is growing almost everywhere in the developed world, poorer nations have also started to realise that this can be a great opportunity for them as well – not only in promoting a local and more sustainable energy system, but also in tackling climate change.

A clear example of this is the growing interest among investors and start-ups to provide solar lights to African countries and elsewhere. These decrease the reliance on toxic kerosene lamps  and give locals affordable and sustainable devices to use for lighting.

Read more: The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013


Finally, tourism. The report states, “The fastest growing sub-sector in sustainable tourism is ecotourism, which focuses on nature-based activities.

“Many developing countries have a comparative advantage in ecotourism due to their natural environments, cultural heritage and possibilities for adventure holidays.”

We have often questioned whether flying is contradictory to having a sustainable holiday. Is it really an ‘eco-holiday’ if you’re adding tons of CO2 into the atmosphere or negatively affecting local communities?

Read more: The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2013

The UNEP report highlights many important points, and it is imperative to make the whole world, not just a few countries, greener and more sustainable.

Fighting unsustainable economic practices and addressing climate issues needs widespread effort, but particularly from the developed world. Our consumption habits and investment choices can make the difference and can help other countries to find a sustainable path to create a more equal and cleaner planet.

Greening business and trade is undoubtedly the right first step. But a sustainable economy for the future doesn’t just need to be green; it needs to ensure it’s responsible, too.

Further reading:

‘Greening’ global trade holds significant opportunities, says UN

UN: global crime conflicts with sustainable development

Healthy forests ‘crucial for economic development’


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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