Global Governance for Green Growth: Steiner Addresses Green Growth Summit in Seoul Thu, May 10, 2012
Seoul, 10 May 2012 - Dr Soo-gil Young, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth
H E BharratJagdeo, former President of the Republic of Guyana
H E Sung-han Kim, 2nd Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea,
H E Izabella Teixeira, Minister of the Environment, Federative Republic of Brazil,
H E NurlanKapparov, Minister for Environmental Protection, Republic of Khazakstan,
Mr Richard Samans, Executive Director of the Global Green Growth Institute,
Dr Simon Upton, Director of Environment at the OECD
Honorable delegates, colleagues,
I am delighted to have been asked to address the opening of the Green Growth Summit just over a month before Rio+20.
If anyone thinks that a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy is some kind of an illusion-an emperor's new green clothes if you will-then you only have to see what is being acheieved by the Republic of Korea under the leadership of President Lee Myung-bak.
And indeed what the country aims to achieve through inspiring policies and targeted investments across many sectors of the economy and communities into the future.
Every remarkable idea and every challenging concept needs it champion.
The Republic of Korea is quite rightly praised for seeing and seizing the opportunity of a transition towards a Green Economy and delivering green growth early on.
First, through the 'green new deal' in which around 80 per cent of your stimulus package was spent on broadly green economic sectors including ecosystems such as forests.
And secondly by putting in place a longer term vision-the five year Green Growth Plan running up to 2013-with close to $90 billion targeted at areas such as climate change and sustainable energy; transportation and green technologies.
The Republic of Korea is already reaping a harvest in terms of a pathway towards sustainable development.
The government's Extended Producer Responsibility policy on waste recycling has, over five years, generated economic benefits of more than $1.6 billion and increased employment by over 3,000 jobs.
Greenhouse gas emissions reductions have been reduced by some 450,000 tonnes annually and today over 80 per cent of municipal solid waste is recycled rather than dumped in landfills.
This one policy has also triggered investments in land fill power generation that is also cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the country's oil imports.
The Republic of Korea has also recognized another key and salient fact-namely that a transition to a Green Economy can happen at the national level.
But that its full potential is only likely to be realized in concert with other countries-ones that have also seen that a 21st century predicated on the economic models and growth policies of the previous two centuries are likely to increase resource scarcities, environmental and economic shocks and higher than acceptable patterns of unemployment.
This is why I am delighted to be here today and why UNEP values its own evolving cooperation with the Republic of Korea-including assistance with advisory services- and the proposed Global Partnership for a Green Economy which we are jointly developing in the run up to Rio+20.
UNEP is already responding to requests from more than 20 countries for advisory services in this field including South Africa in support of its New Growth Path.
The aim here to generate 300,000 new jobs by 2020 in part by doubling levels of clean energy generation.
- Barbados in support of its National Strategic Plan for 2006-2025 which includes "building a green economy" as one of its six strategic goals and a Medium Term Strategic Framework 2010-2014 to achieve these goals
Barbados has set specific measurable targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy, water, waste management, and ecosystem management with emphasis on the coastal zone.
- Burkina Faso-supporting the formulation of an investment plan for the environment and natural resources sector
- Montenegro-scaling up of energy efficiency in the buildings and transport sectors
- China-Green Economy modeling focusing on the paper, renewable energy and the environmental protection industries
Other countries include Azerbaijan, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia and Nepal with the services supported also by other UN agencies including the UN Development Programme, the International Labour Organization, non-governmental organizations like WWF and governments such as Germany.
The Republic of Korea has also established a centre of excellence through the Global Green Growth Institute and is being joined by others-for example Mexico's Centre for Research on Sustainable Development and Climate Change.
Meanwhile others are under discussion including in Brazil and Morocco.
Earlier this year Mexico, supported by OECD, the World Bank, UNEP and the Global Green Growth Institute, unveiled the Global Green Growth Knowledge Platform in order to address knowledge gaps in the green growth ambitions of nations.
The proposed partnership on the green economy with the Republic of Korea can compliment and this work and additional elements.
I mention all this activity because sometimes, through the lens of the kinds of negotiations that have been happening in New York in recent weeks in advance of the Rio+20 summit, one can imagine that action towards a transition is glacial.
But it is already clear that an ever growing numbers of countries are glimpsing the opportunities for green growth or a Green Economy pathway-indeed as a way of realizing sustainable development founded 40 years ago in Stockholm at the first UN Conference on the Human Environment and taken forward at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992.
The challenge before world leaders and ministers meeting in Rio this June is to scale-up and accelerate the pathways to a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Scale-up and accelerate not only action and inclusivity among a longer list of nations-but across sectors and across communities up to across regions.
Rio+20's second overarching theme-an institutional framework for sustainable development speaks to the reforms of the institutions and responsible for delivering the transition with a main focus on the global architecture.
Within this is the discourse and debate about how to support developing and least developed countries with the necessary finance to how far the environmental agency should be strengthened-I of course refer to UNEP.
For while the Green Economy is focused on a bottom up approach, reflecting countries' national circumstances and ambitions, it needs a top to which it can aim.
The Green Economy carries risks and it triggers concerns among some-risks of trade barriers and concerns that wrongly implemented it could commoditize nature.
Those risks need to be managed and those concerns understood and aired-but to imagine that nature is not being commoditized every second of every day and increasingly damaging ways is to live in the Milky Way.
This should and must be urgently addressed and can be through bringing the invisibility of the wealth of the natural world into the visible spectrum and in ways that are inclusive and equitable for all concerned.
And the biggest risk of all right now is to do nothing and stick with the brown, business-as-usual economy.
The Global Green Growth Summit 2012 can provide support and courage to the negotiators in the run up to Rio+20 and doing so provide a positive perspective for seven billion people, rising to over nine billion by 2050.
This year's World Environment Day, annually marked on 5 June, will be hosted in Brazil with a focus on Rio.
Its theme is Green Economy-Does It Include You?-whether you be a man or a woman, a fishermen or a farmer, a solar power engineer or a politician.
The Republic of Korea and many if not all of you in this room have signaled that its does include you and your citizens.
Let your leadership, reasoning and determination be the beacon that can illuminate a cooperative, inclusive pathway for others in order to decouple economic development from pollution and resource use.
In order to grow economies and generate decent jobs but in a way that keeps humanity's footprint within planetary boundaries for this and future generations.
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