Friday, 2 December 2011

HOW FAR ARE WE FROM GREEN ECONOMY

BY: MAGGIE .M.  MWAPE

United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) defines a green economy as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. A green economy can also be one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. In a green economy, growth in income and employment should be driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution enhance energy and resource efficiency.

Green Economy is increasingly found in the words of heads of state and finance ministers, in the text of G20 communiqués. This is discussed in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. But at the same time, we have seen increasing evidence of a way forward, a new economic paradigm one in which material wealth is not delivered perforce at the expense of growing environmental risks, ecological scarcities and social disparities.

Based on the Citation of the UNEP, 2011, Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication -A Synthesis for Policy Makers, www.unep.org/greeneconomy. Today only 20% of commercial fish stocks are mostly of low priced species and underexploited, 52% are fully exploited with no further room for expansion, 20% are overexploited and 8% are depleted. Water is becoming scarce and water stress is projected to increase with water supply satisfying only 60% of world demand in 20 years. However, Agriculture is increasing yields primarily due to the use of chemical fertilizers, which have reduced soil quality and failed to curb the growing trend of deforestation remaining at 13 million hectares of forest per year.

Ecological scarcities are therefore seriously affecting the entire economic sectors and a critical source of livelihood for the poor. The fisheries, agriculture, freshwater and forestry which are human food supply bedrock is affected. Ecological scarcity and social inequity are definitional signatures of an economy which is very far from being ''Green''. Meanwhile, for the first time in history, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas. Cities now account for 75% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions.

Rising and related problems of congestion, pollution, and poorly provisioned services affect the productivity and health of all, but fall particularly hard on the urban poor. With approximately 50% of the global population now living in emerging economies that are rapidly urbanizing and will experience rising income and purchasing power over the next years, tremendous expansion in urban infrastructure and the need for smart city planning is paramount.

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