Differences in the way governments, businesses, investors and others interpret the green economy poses barriers to sustainable development, according to a new report. This fragmentation means that the benefits are not being felt across the whole of society, the study suggests.
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Green Economy Coalition argue that nascent global and national architecture for a green economy is “ill equipped” for delivering a more equitable outcome. This is because there is a focus on ‘green growth’, with most models envisaging welfare gains will trickle down.
Lead-author of the report Emily Benson said, “The challenge is to marry a broad concept of green with equity and inclusion, creating growth at all levels of the economy and ensuring everyone shares in the benefits.”
The report states that green growth aims to improve resource efficiency and create more sustainable patterns of consumption and production, but is not informed or guided by ecological limits. Green growth also places more emphasis on economic tools, market instruments and metrics, rather than legislative change that will be required to level the playing field, it added.
Oliver Greenfield, convenor of the Green Economy Coalition, said, “The green economy concept is an antidote to the prevailing brown economy, which is a major driver of environmental degradation and inequality. Its purpose is to improve both society and the natural environment.
“Right now though, the most powerful players are backing a narrower goal of ‘green growth’, which risks being discredited unless it more effectively tackles inequality.”
The organisations noted that positive steps have been taken including development banks providing billions of dollars to support green growth and encourage private sector investments; countries developing national green economy strategies and legislation; and new green financial products coming onto the market.
Despite this the report argued that more needed to be done. It said, “Investment in renewable energy and natural resource protection is at a fraction of what it needs to be; financial and political short-termism still reigns; and measures of success are still dominated solely by GDP growth or profit margin indicators.
“For the shoots of the green economy to grow, mature and replace the current economic system, we need collective action to tackle some of the ‘fault-lines’ that are fragmenting the green economy landscape.”