UNEP Executive Director Discusses Global Green Economy

© UNEP20 April 2009: Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), discussed the Green Economy in a speech delivered at a university in Tel Aviv, Israel. He addressed the way technological opportunities in resource efficient, low carbon and environmentally-friendly products and processes move from ideas onto commercialization, noting the power of the market as arbiter of what society wants and needs. He stressed the role of government in “shaping and focusing markets” to deliver benefits and long-term goals.

Steiner provided an overview of those countries that had been more resource efficient and praised Israel as a nation that has seen “opportunity in crisis.” He outlined the sobering predictions of climate change science and said the “scale of the response has failed to match the magnitude of the challenge.” He underscored, however, that the convergence of the food, fuel, financial and economic crises have triggered a remarkable response in terms of political cooperation and the mobilizing of stimulus packages. Steiner highlighted the importance of determining whether the US$3 trillion-worth of stimulus packages is spent on the old brown economy or a new Green one.

He then explained that the UNEP Global Green New Deal is based on five broad sectors, with significant climate benefits: raising the energy efficiency of old and new buildings; renewable energies including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass; sustainable transport including hybrid vehicles; high speed rail and bus rapid transit systems; the planet's ecological infrastructure including freshwaters, forests, soils and coral reefs; and sustainable agriculture including organic production. Stressing that climate negotiations remain “bogged down,” Steiner concluded by calling on nations to put aside the “narrow differences that divide them and unite behind the coming challenges.” [UNEP press release]