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(Article) CSM - October 2012: Development & Sustainable use of Resources

Development & Sustainable use of Resources

If we go by the dictionary the development has following meanings:

  • The systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge to meet specific objectives or requirements.
  • An extension of the theoretical or practical aspects of a concept, design, discovery, or invention.
  • The process of economic and social transformation that is based on complex cultural and environmental factors and their interactions.
  • The process of adding improvements to a parcel of land, such as grading, subdivisions, drainage, access, roads, utilities.

Today the main challenge in front of international community is to sustain and accelerate the process of poverty eradication and ensure food and energy security, particularly to developing countries while shifting gradually to a Green Economy. A green economy approach to development holds the potential to achieve greater convergence between economic and environmental objectives. Agriculture plays a critical role in determining food, water, ecological and livelihood security. Integrating the strategies and policies for a green economy into agriculture has to proceed with an absolute imperative of ensuring these and not forgetting the differentiated needs of subsistence agriculture and marketoriented crops. Also, transitioning to a greener model of agriculture will depend on the expeditious provision of green technologies and financial support to developing countries for productivity enhancement, improved resilience and  diversification of production systems. Sustainable development and management of agriculture would benefit from sharing of best practices including farm and non-farm development, improved post-harvest management, integration of supply chains and strengthening of public distribution systems. Eradicating poverty is an indispensible requirement for sustainable development. A major cause aggravating poverty is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production. Poverty eradication remains an overriding objective of governments in developing countries, and efforts to build green economies should contribute substantially to realizing that objective.

Integrating green economy strategies and policies into poverty eradication, food security and energy security is an imperative for sustainable development. Food security and access to affordable clean energy are both crucial to eradicating poverty and promoting social development. The issue of energy security and universal energy access is intricately linked with economic development and growth, and rising energy needs to meet it. Energy poverty coexists with inefficient energy use in much of the world, which – given continued heavy dependence on fossil fuels – has been a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding the flexibility or lack of flexibility of each country to change this energy mix and devising innovative methods to secure energy security are the need of the hour without compromising on the need for high economic growth to meet the aspirations of the people, especially in developing countries. Energy security is a multifaceted concept. In the current context, the primary focus is on poor people’s securing adequate energy supplies to raise their living standards, including through improved income generation, health and education. Renewable energy should be considered as an integral part of the solution to the energy needs of the poor, but that will only be feasible if it is affordable and technologically accessible. As affordability is a function in part of large-scale deployment and learning, the strategy to address energy poverty needs to be linked to a broader alternative energy strategy as part of a green economy. With respect to energy security, rural energy access remains seriously deficient in many developing countries, with well over a billion people lacking access to electricity and clean cooking and heating fuels. At the same time, even in urban areas, electricity is often underprovided and unreliable, especially for urban poor communities. This exacerbates poverty and closes off escape routes by limiting income generation opportunities as well as educational opportunities especially for girls.

What is Green Economy?

A green economy is typically understood as an economic system that is compatible with the natural environment, is environmentally friendly, is ecological, and for many groups, is also socially just. These attributes are the conditions that must be imposed on an economy from the perspective of many green economy advocates. This conventional concept of a green economy may be alternatively described as “the greening of an economy”. Some fundamental criteria for meeting these conditions have been established since Rio, such as using renewable resources within their regenerative capacity, making up for the loss of non-renewable resources by creating their renewable substitutes, limiting pollution within the sink functions of nature, and maintaining ecosystem stability and resilience. A Green Economy is a system of economic activities related to the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that results in improved human wellbeing over the long term, whilst not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Conditions for social justice may include: 1) not compromising future generations’ capability to meet their needs; 2) the rights of poor countries and poor people to development and the obligations of rich countries and rich people to changing their excessive consumption levels; 3) equal treatment of women in access to resources and opportunities; and 4) ensuring decent labor conditions. A green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. A green economy is a economy or economic development model based on sustainable development and a knowledge of ecological economics. Its most distinguishing feature from prior economic regimes is direct valuation of natural capital and ecological services as having economics value and a full cost accounting regime in which costs externalized onto society via ecosystems are reliably traced back to, and accounted for as liabilities of, the entity that does the harm or neglects an asset. Green Economy defined by Karl Burkart is based on six main sectors, which are as follows:

  • Renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, marine including wave, biogas, and fuel cell)
  • Green buildings (green retrofits for energy and water efficiency, residential and commercial assessment; green products and materials, and LEED construction)
  • Clean transportation (alternative fuels, public transit, hybrid and electric vehicles, carsharing and carpooling programs)
  • Water management (Water reclamation, greywater and rainwater systems, low-water landscaping, water purification, stormwater management)
  • Waste management (recycling, municipal solid waste salvage, brownfield land remediation, Superfund cleanup, sustainable packaging)
  • Land management (organic agriculture, habitat conservation and restoration; urban forestry and parks, reforestation and afforestation and soil stabilization)

UNEP Green Economy Initiative (GEI)

The Green Economy Initiative launched by the United Nations Environment Programme in October 2008 is aimed at seizing the opportunities this modern concept of a green economy has to offer. It seeks to accomplish two tasks. First, it tries to make a “beyond-anecdotal” macroeconomic case for investing in sectors that produce environmentally friendly or environmentally enhancing products and services (“green investment”). By a “macroeconomic case”, it mainly refers to the contribution of green investment to output and job growth. Second, the initiative tries to provide guidance on how to boost pro-poor green investment. The goal is to encourage and enable policymakers to support increased green investment from both the public and private sectors. The UNEP GEI activities include providing advisory services to countries interested in greening their economies; producing research products, such as The Green Economy Report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) series of reports, and the Green Jobs Report; and engaging partners to effectively promote and implement green economy strategies.

Concept of Inclusive Growth

Rapid and sustained poverty reduction requires inclusive growth that allows people to contribute to and benefit from economic growth. Inclusive Growth refers both to the pace and pattern of growth, which are considered interlinked, and therefore in need to be addressed together. Inclusive growth by its very definition implies an equitable allocation of resources with benefits accruing to every section of society, which is a utopian concept. But the allocation of resources must be focused on the indented short and long terms benefits and economic linkages at large and not just equitable mathematically on some regional and population criteria. Utopia it is because it dreams of an ideal state which we all strive towards. The inclusive growth approach takes a longer term perspective as the focus is on productive employment rather than on direct income redistribution, as a means of increasing incomes for excluded groups. The inclusive growth definition is in line with the absolute definition of pro-poor growth, but not the relative definition. By focusing on inequality, the relative definition could lead to sub-optimal outcomes for both poor and non-poor households. Inclusive growth focuses on ex-ante analysis of sources of, and constraints to sustained, high growth, and not only on one group – the poor.

Salient components of Inclusive Growth (IG) should be as follows:

  • IG focuses on economic growth which is a necessary and crucial condition for poverty reduction.
  • IG adopts a long term perspective and is concerned with sustained growth.
  1. For growth to be sustained in the long run, it should be broad-based across sectors.
  2. It should also be inclusive of the large part of the country’s labor force, where inclusiveness refers to equality of opportunity in terms of access to markets, resources and unbiased regulatory environment for businesses and individuals.

  • IG focuses on both the pace and pattern of growth.
  • IG focuses on productive employment rather than income redistribution.
  • IG has not only the firm, but also the individual as the subject of analysis.
  • IG is in line with the absolute definition of pro-poor growth, not the relative one.

There are important lessons to learn from this approach including that development policy is countryspecific, may involve just a few reforms that can be optimally sequenced to relax binding constraints, and it may lead to large positive welfare impacts. The main instrument for a sustainable and inclusive growth is assumed to be productive employment. The ability of individuals to be productively employed depends on the opportunities to make full use of available resources as the economy evolves over time. The analysis distinguishes between self- or wageemployed, and further looks at employment by sector, size of firm, rural/urban, formal/informal, and other. The inclusive growth approach takes a longer term perspective. With this longer term perspective, it is important to recognize the time lag between reforms and outcomes. Inclusive growth is about raising the pace of growth and enlarging the size of the economy, while leveling the playing field for investment and increasing productive employment opportunities. Policies for inclusive growth are an important component of any government strategy for sustainable growth and the frameworks for inclusive growth analytics are eclectic in spirit.

Delhi Ministerial Dialogue, 2011

The Ministerial Dialogue on “Green Economy and Inclusive Growth” has taken place in New Delhi on 3-4 October. The event, organized by UN DESA and the Indian Government, is focusing on sustainable development initiatives in the lead up to next year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. The issues addressed at the two-day 2011 Delhi Ministerial Dialogue on ‘Green Economy and Inclusive Growth’ include sustainable management of sectors like agriculture, industry, energy and transport, urgent adoption of sustainable life styles and consumption patterns through reduction in per capita ecological footprint, appropriate population policies, equity concerns, poverty eradication and developmental imperatives. Designed properly, green economy policies and programmes can directly contribute to poverty eradication. The Delhi Dialogue is a step forward in preparations for the UNCSD, also known as Rio+20, scheduled to take place in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It aims to provide a platform for international deliberations on the integration of green economy architecture and global challenges of poverty eradication, food security, and energy security. Eradicating poverty is an indispensible requirement for sustainable development. A major cause aggravating poverty is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production. The Delhi Dialogue will be an opportunity for high level government officials and UN agencies to explore in depth the linkages of a green economy for poverty eradication and broadbased, inclusive growth. Integrating green economy strategies and policies into poverty eradication, food security and energy security is an imperative for sustainable development.

Objectives of the Ministerial Discussion were:-

  1. To obtain a comprehensive update on the recent green economy developments within major international policy forums and through the UNEPled green economy initiative;
  2. To discuss how the concept of the green economy can be further implemented at the country level;
  3. To build on existing policies and processes that are supporting the shift to sustainable consumption and production and a green economy;

Conclusively we can say, designed properly, green economy policies and programmes with inclusive growth mechanism can directly contribute to poverty eradication. Successful examples can offer lessons and possible models for replication. For instance, India’s rural employment guarantee programme is at one and the same time an anti-poverty programme and an ecosystem restoration programme. Understanding the flexibility or lack of flexibility of each country to change this energy mix and devising innovative methods to secure energy security are the need of the hour without compromising on the need for high economic growth to meet the aspirations of the people, especially in developing countries.