LIAISE News Bulletin - 8th Issue
In the run-up to the 2012 World Summit in Rio de Janeiro, a major debate on a “Green Economy” is evolving. The OECD developed a Green Growth Strategy, published in May 2011 (see policy section below). The strategy recognizes the potential benefits of green growth and, unlike previous OECD publications, considers green growth as an integrative and cross-sectoral mechanism rather than merely growth of ‘green’ industries. The United National Environmental Programme (UNEP) commissioned two major studies in 2008, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity and the Global Green New Deal, and published the Green Economy Report earlier in 2011. The report stresses the key role of adjusting the framework conditions of the economy to make it work for other, social and environmental, goals of sustainability as well. Other initiatives include the EU growth strategy for the coming decade Europe 2020 – A European Strategy for Smart, Sustainable, and Inclusive Growth which replaces the Lisbon Strategy, including its 3% GDP growth target. The focus on economic growth is maintained in the EU, but at the same time decoupling growth from resource use and a low carbon transition are seen as key objectives (see EU flagship initiative A Resource Efficient Europe).
A Green Economy has become a major element in the quest for sustainable development – however, it is contested. The optimistic view assumes that greening the economy is the driver of economic modernisation and welfare. The sceptical view doubts that important challenges of sustainable development, such as environmental issues, social and distributional effects, and the pressing problems of developing countries, will be met. We can expect that conflicts will rise in this debate. Is a Green Economy capable of dealing with ecological limits? Of solving the social question? Is it a solution to the crisis of the capitalist model, or is it merely a way of continuing business as usual? Policy assessment and impact assessment may contribute to this debate with analyses of causalities between key variables, with indicators, e.g. on welfare, to measure progress, or with models to simulate different development paths into the future. IA is not capable of solving the political struggles of a Green Economy, but it may contribute to work on the involved conflicts.
To contribute to this, the LIAISE network is among others preparing to support the assessment of impacts on third countries beyond Europe. For example, European resource policies do have impacts on all aspects of sustainability in countries where resources are used for import products. Another relevant aspect of a Green Economy is the domestic impacts on the social dimension: Increasing prices for energy and other resources, higher prices for food grown in a more sustainable way, or higher prices for transport – what are their impacts on incomes, on social cohesion and the opportunities to participate in social life? The LIAISE network is motivated to take up this agenda and invites other partners to join efforts for this.
by Sabine Weiland and Klaus Jacob, FUB.