Greening the Global Economy-the Role of Environmental Impact Assessments

Geneva, 8 April 2010 - More than 600 experts from 75 countries gather in Geneva today to consider the social and environmental impacts of transitioning to a green economy.

Delegates to the 30th Annual Conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA), hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will look at the five sectors that have been identified as key green investment opportunities: agriculture, industry, tourism, cities and transportation.

"When they met in Bali two months ago, the world's environment ministers emphasized that the full impacts of green economy policies should be assessed, including environmental, social and economic aspects,'' said Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.

"Professionals involved in impact assessments thus have an important role to play in delivering more intelligent and sustainable choices to their customers and clients including governments, business, local authorities and civil society: choices that can direct investments to fit local, national and regional needs while addressing the broad agenda of low carbon, resource efficient development, poverty eradication and higher levels of decent employment," he added.

One of the key goals of the conference - hosted for the first time by a UN agency - is to present the tools and methods that will help countries to assess and identify which green investments to make.

Speaking in Geneva, Nick Taylor, President of the IAIA, said delegates at the six-day meeting would share their ideas and insights on how impact assessment can address a complex range of global issues.

"A growing field of expertise, impact assessment can evaluate the linkages between investments and the environment, health, job creation, economic diversification and poverty reduction. This forum comes at a time when there's heightened interest in the potential of impact assessments, so it's vital experts exchange information and contribute to a growing body of knowledge," Mr Taylor said.

UNEP's flagship Green Economy Report, to be released later in the year, will present in-depth assessments of 10 sectors based on economic analysis and modelling. Three of the report's chapter authors will be on hand at the conference to share some of the report's preliminary analysis.

Speakers at the conference include Mr Steiner; Mrs Michèle Künzler, State Council, Republic and State of Geneva; Mr Gérard Poffet, Vice-Director, Swiss Federal office for the Environment, and Mr Taylor. Keynote addresses will be given by Dr Lars Lundquist, who leads research and development activities related to environmental assessment of packing and products at the Nestle Research Centre, and Dr Per Sandberg, a managing director and leader of the Vision 2050 project at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The conference, held at the International Conference Centre Geneva (CICG), will be attended by impact assessment practitioners, international experts and policymakers from industry, governments, consultancies, donor agencies, NGOs and academia. The conference closes on Sunday.

Notes to Editors:

UNEP's Green Economy Initiative

Led by UNEP, the Green Economy Initiative (GEI) of the UN is designed to assist governments in "greening" their economies by reshaping and refocusing policies, investments and spending towards a range of sectors, such as clean technologies, renewable energies, water services, green transport, waste management and sustainable agriculture and forests.

As the governments around the world are devising responses to the challenges posed by financial, economic, food, fuel and climate crises, the GEI offers convincing macroeconomic evidence and technical advice for focusing policy and investment packages on key economic sectors as a means of stimulating economic development, creating jobs and addressing poverty, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, extracting and using less natural resources and creating less waste.

See: www.unep.org/greeneconomy

International Association for Impact Assessment

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) is a global network for best practice in the use of impact assessment for informed decision making regarding policies, programs, plans and projects.

IAIA was organized in 1980 to bring together researchers, practitioners, and users of various types of impact assessment from around the world. IAIA has more than 1,600 members from over 120 countries representing many disciplines and professions. Its members include corporate planners and managers, public interest advocates, government planners and administrators, private consultants and policy analysts, university and college teachers and their students.

IAIA activities seek to (1) develop approaches and practices for comprehensive and integrated impact assessment; (2) improve assessment procedures and methods for practical application; (3) promote training of impact assessment and public understanding of the field; (4) provide professional quality assurance by peer review and other means, and (5) share information networks, timely publications, and professional meetings.

See: www.iaia.org

For further information, please contact: Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, +41 795 965 737 or +254 733632755, or nick.nuttall@unep.org

Moira O'Brien-Malone, Head, DTIE Communications, UNEP Paris, Tel: +33 1 44 37 76 12 or moira.obrien-malone@unep.org

Nick Taylor, President, IAIA, n.taylor@tba.co.nz


 

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