CIES/UNEP Hold Expert Workshop on Economic Frameworks for Designing the Green Economy
12-14 December, 2011
Many of today's most important environmental problems will require substantial technological change and massive levels of investment to address them. In addition, it is very important that many of these new forms of investment and technology occur in the right places - in the rapidly developing world. The most obvious example of the need for such a change is the demand for the creation of new energy technologies and unprecedented changes of levels of investments in capital non-reliant upon fossil fuels. Without this sort of change in investment, the problem of climate change cannot be addressed. The world economy needs to turn in a very different direction in terms of technology and capital investments.
One of the interesting questions this raises is the extent to which development and growth in the future can be reliant upon these new investments, and on these new technologies. Clearly this change is important for global growth to be sustainable, but is it also consistent with individual countries' plans for sustainable development? In particular, can developing countries afford to make the change onto these new development paths unassisted? If not, what forms of institutional or developmental change may be necessary to make this change possible for them? These are the questions at the base of the quest for a "green economy" and it is important that sound economic advice is given to countries currently developing their investment plans and portfolios.
A paper was prepared for UNEP by Prof Tim Swanson and Zacharias Ziegelhofer, of the CIES on "Economic Frameworks for Thinking about Growth, Sustainability and State Intervention: Designing the Green Economy". This monograph reviews economic theories in the areas of growth, sustainability, innovation and intervention - it argues for the important role that resource management plays in pointing the direction of the development of a green economy.
Another one of the interesting questions at the base of the green economy project concerns the role for state intervention in creating the conditions necessary for sustainable development. Resource management policies require state intervention in order to supply the correct price paths for resource usage, when market prices are insufficient. In addition, technological innovation usually relies upon state intervention as well, such as patents or prizes. The green economy project sits neatly between these two areas of policy, and so requires significant thought concerning the role of state intervention in leading an economy in the right direction. Finally, the importance of state intervention points to the need to consider trade policy - as it is important that green economies are built upon a fair set of rules within the international trading system.
On 12th-14th December 2011, the Centre for International Environmental Studies held an Expert's Workshop jointly with the United Nations Environment Programme on the subject of "Designing the Green Economy". The Workshop invited many of the leading thinkers on the issues of economics, growth, innovation and trade policy to participate in a 2 day meeting analysing the economic frameworks for considering these issues. Twenty five experts convened at the Villa Moynier in Geneva in order to discuss these issues. The end product is to be a Policy Briefing for developing countries from UNEP/CIES to issue in time for the Rio Plus 20 meeting in Brazil June 2012.
The "Designing the Green Economy" Workshop was divided into four policy focused sessions: environmental policy; technological policy; development policy; and trade policy. The goal is to provide a sound economic framework for advocating changes onto sustainable technological platforms, and to make sure that developing countries are able to benefit from coming technological change as much as any others. A work report on the results of the workshop have been prepared.
UNEP Briefing Paper
Framework Paper: Green Economy-Economic Frameworks for Thinking about Growth, Sustainability, and the Role of State Intervention