The transition to a green economy will vary considerably between nations. It will depend on the specifics of each country’s natural and human capital and on its relative level of development. Many countries have attained high levels of human development but often at the expense of their natural resource base, the quality of their environment and high GHG emissions. The challenge for these countries is to reduce their ecological footprint without impairing their quality of life.
Over the last 25 years, the world economy has quadrupled, benefiting hundreds of millions of people. However, over 60% of the world’s major ecosystem goods and services that underpin livelihoods have been used unsustainably, and many heavily degraded.
Where countries aim to deliver improved levels of services and material well-being to their citizens, they face the challenge of achieving this without significantly increasing their ecological footprints.
The transition to a green economy presents an opportunity; the chance to focus on the economy, finding ways to increase prosperity without increasing resource use and environmental impacts so that the long-term prospects are protected. This drives the opportunity to build economies which can begin to achieve sustainability, where ecosystems are maintained in balance. Human wellbeing is key to this and a focus on the fair distribution of the benefits and costs of the transition to the green economy is important. Building from this, the primary mechanisms (which have some over-lap) in achieving green economy should relate to strategies around:
- Economic Transformation: This includes the building blocks of; developing SMEs, employment of women and youth, adapting education to the labor market, and technological developments
- Resource Efficiency: This includes the building blocks of; effective waste, water, energy and travel management, low carbon building and construction and working towards environmental standards.
- Social progress and well-being: This includes the building blocks of; addressing national food security, addressing gaps in healthcare models.