Association for Protection of Environment and Culture (APEC-Nepal) and Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF), Inc. (NGO), USA
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Association for Protection of Environment and Culture (APEC-Nepal) and Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF), Inc. (NGO), USA
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Inputs for Rio+20 Compilation Document

The conceptual problems of Green Economy and Sustainable Development

On behalf of the

Association for Protection of Environment and Culture (APEC-Nepal) and

Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF), Inc. (NGO), USA

Input submitted by Medani P. Bhandari ( co-founder and former chair of APEC-Nepal; Scientist of at the ASLF-USA and Research Associate at Syracuse University, NY, USA

APEC-Nepal: General objectives of the organization are to extend help in the protection of biological diversity such as wildlife, wetland species, forest resources and development of the nation by organizing individuals and experts in the conservation of natural resources and sustainable use. Founded in 1985, APEC-Nepal is a member of IUCN; accredited with the UNEP; member if Global Environment Facility-NGO Networks and associated with UN-DPI.

ASLF-USA: Atlantic States Legal Foundation (ASLF) was established in 1982 to provide affordable legal, technical and organizational assistance to individuals, community groups, and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), as a way to effectively remediate threats to the natural environment. ASLF is accredited with the UNEP; member if Global Environment Facility-NGO Networks and associated with UN-DPI.


As the Rio+20 has already set the objective to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, it should begin to create common ground to build the consensus among

stakeholders as it was able to do in the Rio 1992.

a. What are the expectations for the outcome of Rio+20, and what are the concrete proposals in this regard, including views on a possible structure of the Outcome document?

The Rio+20 conferences should prioritize for the political commitments through the institutionalization of the Sustainable Development and Green Economy concepts in various binding agreements.

b. What are the comments, if any, on existing proposals: e.g., a green economy roadmap, framework for action, sustainable development goals, a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, or others?

The proposed themes of Rio+20 Conference-- a green economy (GE) in the context of sustainable development (SD) and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development-- are very vague. There is no clear documentation regarding the history and the theoretical route of green economy initiatives. In separate attached document, I outline the theoretical frame of GE and SD (see attached document).

c. What are the views on implementation and on how to close the implementation gap, which relevant actors are envisaged as being involved (Governments, specific Major Groups, UN system, IFIs, etc.);

There is an assumption that GE tries to capture the notion of the vulnerability of human welfare, caused by the degradation of global environment, which can be understood as a result of the widespread application of an unsustainable economic growth. Probably, it captures the concerns of the past four decades to address climate change to frame treaty agreements. The GE initiates can serve as a tool for the greening as an engine for growth, with valuing the ecosystem services and biodiversity issues by addressing strategic uncertainty such as: the likelihood of adverse effects; the consequences of change; the speed of change; discontinuities; and especially uncertainty over the effectiveness of policy instruments.

The issues of institutionalization of political commitments are missing in Rio+20. In order to attain the objectives of the SD, institutional framework has to be developed to coordinate and manage activities of all related stakeholders (i.e. governments, UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral donors; development banks; international nongovernmental and governmental organizations; national nongovernmental organizations etc.). It requires an effective institutional structure, strong policy, and framework for policy implementation and can work effectively, efficiently, equitably and transparently.

d. What specific cooperation mechanisms, partnership arrangements or other implementation tools are envisaged and what is the relevant time frame for the proposed decisions to be reached and actions to be implemented?

To achieve the desired outcomes in such complicated themes, it would be hard to propose the specific timeframe. However, it is also necessary to bind within the time frame; therefore, I proposed three schemes (1) 2 to 3 years policy and program framing phase; 4-6 years program implementation phase; and 7-10 years monitoring and evaluation phase.

To implement the green economy initiatives in the developing world, there is also a need to change or revisit the trade regulations imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO); especially the social and environmental conditions of specific developments such as the removal of the ability of foreign cooperation to over-ride local social and environmental factors. To foster the ability of the developing world, it is essential to establish a chain of cooperation between North and South. The chain of cooperation can be established through creation of international oversight schemes which can help to bridge the gap between North and South.

A view paper for Rio+20

The Theoretical Route of Green Economy Initiatives, Applicability and the



Medani Bhandari1

There is no clear documentation regarding the theoretical route of green economy initiatives. Only, from 2008, global conservation movements have taken on a new dimension, with a special focus on Green Economic Initiatives. The United Nations and its agencies, for example, are major stakeholders in global environmental governance, and have been advocating in international forums to integrate conservation and development themes and establish collaborative platforms where all concerned stakeholders could contribute to the health of the planet. The green economy initiative initiated by United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) captures the notion of the vulnerability of human welfare, which can be understood as the result of the widespread application of an unsustainable model of economic development. Green economy initiatives capture the notion and concerns raised repeatedly over the course of the past

40 years, from the Stockholm conference of the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in 1972, to Earth Summit 1992 in Rio; to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio? Earth Summit +10), Johannesburg, South Africa 2002. These concerns likewise have been raised in publications over the course of that period, such as World Conservation Strategy-Living Resources conservation for Sustainable Development (1980), Our Common Future (1987), and Caring for the Earth- A Strategy for Sustainable Living (1991). These conferences and publications have explored global environmental phenomena in transnational political context to minimize environmental impact and maximize public wellbeing. UNEP defines a green economy (GE) as one that results in improved human well- being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. The UNEP assumes that greening is a new engine for growth, emphasizing sectoral opportunities, addressing hurdles and enabling conditions, demonstrating the value of ecosystems and biodiversity, capturing these values, and reversing the vicious cycle of environmental losses and persistent poverty by reversing the vicious cycle of environmental losses and persistent poverty. The major players fostering the GE include UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, ILO, CBD, multilateral and bilateral Institutions, member countries, regional forums, business and civil society groups, universities and regional commissions and international and national NGOs, among others.

Theoretically, it is possible to interpret environmental problems and recommend environmental reforms with the application of technology-intensive policies to manage the environment problems both in the developed and the developing world (e.g., through analysis of the existing situation, formulation of policy options, and encouragement to apply environment friendly advance technology for sustainable world). The GE initiative is embedded within the frame of sustainable development, including the globalization processes and global transformations, and providing the know-how to perceive global economic growth in a positive way. It also incorporates the ecological economic factors of social dynamism and responses to basic environmental changes i.e. the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC), CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, proportion of natural resource consumption in GNI, an economy's energy and

1 He is a co-founder and former chair of APEC-Nepal; Scientist of at the ASLF-USA and Research Associate at the Syracuse University, NY, USA, he can be reach at The Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Inc. 658 West Onondaga Street, Syracuse NY 13204-3711 USA email:

resource density, and global heat have been raised in alarming rate. Likewise human population density, energy production, pollution and per capita industrial wastewater biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) have been rising and the per capita forest resources and biodiversity have declined from the 18th to 20th century. At the same time awareness about such changes is also raised from the local to the global level; several international and national treaties, memorandums and acts have been introduced, incorporated and implemented. However, these notions do not apply to the developing world because it encompasses a different set of environmental problems, basically linked with the poverty and inequality. Yet the developing

world, in particular, needs to consider GE principles to overcome its socio-economic (population growth, poverty, epidemics etc.) and environmental crises. It needs a different set of institutional architectures. However, till now there has been no institutional model that encompasses the responsibility to fulfill these assumptions and objectives of the GE. This research will briefly outline the practical problems to realize GE initiatives in developing world. The research argues for the reform of existing structures and to create a new institutional framework which can coordinate and manage activities by which all related stakeholders may obtain the goals of GE, by creating and implanting environmental policy instruments such as standards; bans; permits and quotas; zoning; liability; legal redress as well as the flexible regulations.

This research proposes the historical overview of GE theoretical route and overseas the linkages between GE (theory) and social theories such as ecological economics and environmental/resource economics, and industrial ecology. Further, this research takes the GE initiative as a platform that still needs to be grounded to be accepted as an application tool or theory in addressing severe global environment problems.

GE highlights long-term impact, and searches for high-tech visions, while environmental sociology examines the world on the practicality of environmentalism based on social

dynamism. However, because GE is still a relatively new concept, there is an urgent need to advance knowledge to foster more theoretical grounding for the green economy paradigm. In this paper, I argue that for GE to flourish, it should focus on beliefs about humanity?s ability to upset the balance of nature, the existence of limits to growth for human societies, and humanity?s right to rule over the rest of nature. GE philosophy should design in ways that provide an equal platform for both South and North to manage the environment by creating an effective institutional structure, strong policy, and framework for policy implementation that can work effectively, efficiently, equitably and transparently within the frame of global governance. The task that lies before us. We, as scholars and practitioners, have to help define this innovative and ambitious architecture.

Key Words: global conservation; green economic initiatives; environmental governance; social theories

1. Introduction

Since 2008, global conservation movements have taken different paths, with the especial focus towards the Green Economic Initiatives (GEI). The major stakeholder of global environmental governance, the United Nations, has been advocating for the integration of conservation and developmental themes as well as the establishment of a collaborative platform where all concern stakeholders can contribute to the health of the planet.

In fostering this concept, the UNEP called for a Global Green New Deal (GEND) in the wake of unprecedented economic stimulus packages. A UNEP report released in December

2008 called for a GEND and a subsequent policy brief to G20 heads of state urging them to turn the crisis into an opportunity by enabling a global green economy (GE) driven by massive job creation from a more efficient use of resources, energy-efficient building and construction, widespread use of clean and modern public transport, the scaling up of renewable energy, sustainable waste management, and sustainable agriculture that reflects the latest thinking in ecosystem management and biodiversity and water conservation (UNEP-GRID 2009:4).

However the concept of the GE is still maturing within the UN as well as in academia

and global forums for conservation. The UNEP (2010) notes that the GE is an important concept in linking economic growth to the achievement of environmental sustainability. It implies the realization of growth and employment opportunities from less polluting and more resource- efficiency in energy, water, waste, buildings, agriculture and forests. It also demands the management of structural changes such as potentially adverse effects on vulnerable households and traditional economic sectors. The concept of a GE and its policy implications will be

applied differently across the globe, reflecting national circumstances and priorities. However, for developing countries in particular, widespread opportunities exist to strengthen economic development, including poverty reduction as well as food and water security in developing countries, through improved environmental and natural resource management (UNEP 1010:5).

2. The green economy

A GE is one whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. These investments need to be catalyzed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes. This development path should maintain, enhance and, where necessary, rebuild natural capital as a critical economic asset and source of public benefits, especially

for poor people whose livelihoods and security depend strongly on nature. A green economy

(GE) can be defined as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. A GE is characterized by substantially increased investments in economic sectors that build on and enhance the Earth?s natural capital or reduce ecological scarcities and environmental risks. These sectors include renewable energy, low-carbon transport, energy-efficient buildings, clean technologies, improved waste management, improved freshwater provision, sustainable agriculture and forest management, and sustainable fisheries. These investments are driven

or supported by national policy reforms and the development of international policy and market infrastructure (UNEP 2010:3).

The GE system is also a complex phenomenon which aims to achieve a low-carbon economy, life cycle analysis, and resource efficiency. The GE theory especially captures the notion of the vulnerability of human welfare, which can be understood as the result of widespread application of an unsustainable model of economic development. With the linkages of the recent year?s economic and environmental crises, the UNEP urges cooperative efforts to address bringing economy and environment together, under the notion that the environment is where we live, and the development is what we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode. The two are inseparable (UNEP 2007). As the environmental issues have chain effects; these situations also can be seen through the lens of diverse and complex impacts of

climate change, water management, biodiversity conservation, and forest and land management

(UNEP 2010).

3. The major component of Green Economy (GE)

The UNEP GE Report outlines the eleven major issues to be addressed while empowering the social well-being of citizens of the developing world. The report addresses important sectors of the GE along with cross-cutting issues, such as finance and other enabling conditions, which include: ?Green Industry Segments; Energy Generation; Energy Efficiency; Transportation; Green Building; Energy Storage; Environmental Consulting; Water & Wastewater; Finance/ Investment; Environmental Remediation; Air & Environment; Business Services; Research & Alliances; Agriculture; Recycling & Waste Materials; and Manufacturing/Industrial? (UNEP-GRID 2009:38-39).

It is important to note however that the UNEP is one of the major partners of the IUCN in theorizing and preparing policy directives, and encouraging governments to utilize GE concepts in the UNEP and the IUCN?s member-states. Dr. Achim Steiner, the UN Undersecretary- General and UNEP Executive Director, notes that the GE concept is also far from being set in stone. It is, on the other hand, providing for some governments a rationale, blueprint, and a focus for actively realizing many of those unmet sustainability goals, albeit at the current level of each nation (UNEP 2010:2).

As noted above one of the goals of a GE is to help reduce poverty, while increasing resource efficiency and improving social welfare. Importantly, the GE is both a journey and a destination; it has much to do with the MDGs; and it is inextricably intertwined with many of the drivers and factors involved in trying to achieve them (UNEP 2010). There is a strong connection between the environment and the MDGs, since its goals include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; the achievement of universal primary education; the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women; the reduction of child mortality; the improvement

of maternal health; combating major diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and the

creation of a global partnership for development (UNEP 2007).

The MGDs are based on principles of the people-first approach and the notion of the human well-being. As the UNEP (2007:13) notes, human well-being is the extent to which individuals have the ability and the opportunity to live the kinds of lives they have reason to value. People?s ability to pursue the lives that they value is shaped by a wide range of instrumental freedoms. Human well-being encompasses personal and environmental security, access to materials for a good life, good health, and good social relations, all of which are closely related to each other, and underlie the freedom to make choices and take action. Furthermore, in capturing the impact of environmental change on human well-being as described in the Global Environmental Outlook -4 (GEO 2007) conceptual frameworks, the impacts of environmental change on human well-being are strongly mediated by social and institutional factors. Furthermore, the explicit links between environmental change and certain aspects of human

well-being, such as food availability and water stress, are better understood than, say, those related to education, personal security, good social relations, and overall access to materials for a good life.

4. The Human Wellbeing and the Green Economy

Well-being encompasses more aspects than listed in the following text box; they do not, therefore, fully capture the impacts of environmental change on well-being. However, by

enhancing positive impacts, these concepts can pave the way positive environmental change, and it is likely that the addressing the well-being aspects can help to empower society to minimize its impact on the environment.

The conventional environmental problems are well-known effects of environment degradation; whereas single sources can generally be identified, the potential victims are often close to those sources, and the scale is often local or national. ? Conventional problems such as microbial contamination, harmful local algal blooms, emissions of sulphur, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, oil spills, local land degradation, localized habitat destruction, fragmentation of land, and overexploitation of freshwater resources? (UNEP 2007:517). The green economy concept establishes causality of environmental damage and proposes a new way to tackle those causes by bringing all concerned stakeholders together in addressing the issues.

5. Theory behind the GE concept

The position document (zero draft) for the Rio+20; clearly sets the desired outcome from the world conference but lacks theoretical background of green economy initiatives. The document also lacks discussion of how views toward the sustainable development are emerged and linked with the green economy. To fill this gap I propose the following conceptual map (modified from Hopwood et al. 2005).

The theoretical map of sustainable development and green economy

The map above shows the complex conceptual frame derived basically from the Club of Rome publication "The Limits to Growth" (1972). That report presented five challenging scenarios for global sustainability, (population, food production, industrial production, pollution, and consumption of non-renewable natural resources) which still represent the reality of the conservation problems (Turner 2008). The World Conservation Strategy promulgated by IUCN,

UNEP and WWF (1980) illustrated the importance of biological diversity, setting the objectives of conservation and requirements for their achievement, including priorities for national and international actions. Similarly, Caring for the Earth- A Strategy for Sustainable Living IUCN, UNEP and WWF (1991), also crafted the principles and actions for sustainable living, with a set of objectives for implementation and follow-up. However, the mainstreaming of sustainable development only took place after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which also created the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Since inception, CBD has been playing an institutional role to conserve biological diversity, working collaboratively to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and targets (which came from the Millennium Declaration signed by 189 countries, including 147 Heads of State, in September 2000) with the convention parties (the governments) and other international UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations (IUCN, WWF etc.), and multinational and bilateral international development agencies (as listed in the conceptual map above, which is one of the initiatives of CBD - Biodiversity and Poverty, CBD 2011). Theory has advanced through research, development and academic institutions to provide a theoretical

frame for obtaining the CBD goals. Particularly since 2008, global conservation movements have taken on a new dimension, with a special focus on green economic initiatives.

The United Nations and its agencies, for example, are major stakeholders in global environmental governance, and have been advocating in international forums to integrate conservation and development themes and establish collaborative platforms where all concerned stakeholders could contribute to the health of the planet. The major players fostering the green economy include UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, ILO, CBD, multilateral and bilateral institutions, member countries, regional forums, business and civil society groups, universities and regional commissions and international and national NGOs, among others. Because "Biodiversity contributes directly to poverty reduction in at least five key areas: food security, health improvements, income generation, reduced vulnerability, and ecosystem services" (Koziell and McNeill. 2002 as in Emerton 2005:1) this new initiative can be helpful to obtain the Rio+20 goals listed in the ZERO-DRAFT, somehow captures the theory of green economy.

Furthermore, GE concept is based on the basic principles of ecological economics and environmental/resource economics. These disciplines are specifically dedicated to the economic analysis of the relationship between humans and the environment; whereas ecological economics considers the economy as a subset of a larger ecological system (Dasgupta 2001; Daly 2005), environmental/resource economics examines the combination of environmental elements with

existing classical (or neo‐classical) economic models (Harris, 2006). The following table shows the difference between these two schools of thought (on the basis of Bergh 2000 classification).

Table 1: difference between ecological economics and environmental/resource economics

Ecological Economics

Traditional Environmental and Resource Economics

1. Optimal scale

2. Priority to sustainability

3. Needs fulfilled and equitable distribution

4. Sustainable development, globally and North/South

1. Optimal allocation and externalities

2. Priority to efficiency

3. Optimal welfare or Pareto efficiency

4. Sustainable growth in abstract models

5. Growth pessimism and difficult choices

6. Unpredictable co-evolution

7. Long-term focus

8. Complete, integrative and descriptive

9. Concrete and specific

10. Physical and biological indicators

11. Systems analysis

12. Multidimensional evaluation

13. Integrated models with cause-effect relationships

14. Bounded individual rationality and uncertainty

15. Local communities

16. Environmental ethics

Source: Berg 2000:9

5. Growth optimism and ?win-win? options

6. Deterministic optimization of inter-temporal welfare

7. Short to medium term focus

8. Partial, mono-disciplinary and analytical

9. Abstract and general

10. Monetary indicators

11. External costs and economic valuation

12. Cost-benefit analysis

13. Applied general equilibrium models with external costs

14. Maximization of utility or profit

15. Global market and isolated individuals

16. Utilitarianism and functionalism

Ecological economics takes a broad perspective in framing environmental questions by incorporating laws derived from the natural sciences. Ecological economy theorists emphasize the importance of energy resources, especially fossil fuels, in current economic systems. All ecological systems depend on energy inputs, but natural systems rely almost entirely on solar energy. A fundamental principle of ecological economics is that human economic activity must be limited by the environment?s carrying capacity (Harris 2006:5-7).

Resource economics is the study of the how society allocates scare natural resources. Moreover, the green economy concept is situated on the Neoclassical Welfare Economics theory and provides the alternative avenue with the use of ecological economic alternatives to cope with the changing scenario of the global environmental crisis.

The GE concept accepts the traditional economic model and provides options with the application of ecological economics, resource economics, and industrial ecology for sustainable livelihood. As Randall (1982) noted long ago, the mainstream economists fall into several loose groupings. The middle ground is occupied by those who find the mainstream economic methodology useful and even quite powerful, but who recognize that it has some perplexing limitations, especially when applied to policy analysis. ?To one side of the middle, there is a group of free-market zealots, who see the economic system in very simple terms, and who

cannot understand why others fail to see what, to them, is obvious. They divide their time between proselytizing for free-market solutions among known economists and attempting to keep the other group of mainstream economists on the straight-and-narrow. On the other side of the middle, there is an ill-defined group of those who are quite uneasy about limitations, so the mainstream economists and policy analysts are suspicious that the zealots are confusing methodology and ideology, but are unable to develop a coherent alternative to the mainstream methodology? (Randall 1982:37 and also in Terry 1982:928).

Furthermore, the GE concept accepts the key conceptual issues of neoclassical welfare economics and alternatives to the ecological economic model, which largely overlap each other, as seen in Table 2.

Table 2: Key conceptual issues of neoclassical welfare economics and ecological economic model

Conceptual Issue

Neoclassical Welfare Economics

Ecological Economic Alternative

Value Monism

Reduce value to commensurable

monetary units; utility function.

Separate value into incommensurable

categories; multi-criteria assessment.

The Rational Actor

Individual consumers and firms at the

Analyze humans as social actors, consumers

center of analysis.

versus citizens.

Marginal Analysis

Comparative statics of marginal


Recognizes discontinuous change and total


Evolutionary Change

Evolution as constrained optimization,

survival of the fittest view of market outcomes, individual based selection.

Importance of contingency, historical accidents,

path dependency. Considers altruism and group selection as well as selfishness.


Reduce uncertainty to risk. Market

outcome focus to decision-making.

Precautionary principle to deal with pure

uncertainty. Process-oriented, co-evolutionary focus to decision-making.

Decision Criteria

Efficiency as the sole criterion, usually

based on potential Pareto improvements.

Equity, stability, resilience of environmental

and social systems.

Production Process

Theory of allocation of fixed resources;

production function.

Production as a biophysical process,

thermodynamics; extended input-output approach, joint production of goods and polluting wastes.


Straight-line discounting of future costs

and benefits.

Recognizes the difference between individual

and social valuation of the future; hyperbolic discounting.

Adopted from Gowdy and Erickson 2005:213 (Value Monism implies that all objects of utility

have some common characteristic that allows them to be compared. Until the middle of the twentieth century there was a lively debate in economics about varieties of value, including use vs. exchange value, labor and energy theories of value, and so on. Value Monism lies behind standard cost?benefit analysis (CBA) which uses the notion of consumer surplus to judge the desirability of public policy choices (Gowdy and Erickson 2005:212-213).

As seen in the table, the ecological economy examines the inter-relationships of

economic activities that have an impact on the environment. The ecological economy also looks at the functional relationships of ecosystems, social systems, and economic systems, which has a domino effect on social institutions as seen in Table 3.

Table 3: Ecological economic functions


Social System


Transactions among Economic


Transactions from Economic

Sectors to Social Institutions

Environmental Impact from

Economic Sectors

Transactions from Factor Inputs to Economic Sectors

Transactions from

Social Institutions to

Economic Sectors

Transactions between

Social Institutions and

Value Added

Transactions between

Social Institutions

Environmental Impact

from Social Institutions

Environmental Inputs to Economic Sectors

Environmental Inputs to Social Institutions

Drown on the basis of Gowdy and Erickson 2005:219

Fueled by the ecological economic functional model, one of the major aspects of the GE is the examination of the impact of human economic activities on the biophysical environment and provisions of alternatives to reduce such impacts. Similarly, another discipline which relates closely to the notion of the GE is the industrial ecology, which looks more closely at the relationship between human activity and the environment in the context of an industrialized

society (IUCN 2010:3). The concept of industrial ecology is relatively old and uses a systematic approach to examine the trends of environmental degradation. The concept was first utilized by Jay Forrester at MIT in the early 1960s, to examine the world as a series of interwoven systems. Industrial ecology is the study of the physical, chemical, and biological interactions and interrelationships both within and between industrial and ecological systems (Forrester 1968,

1971 as in Garner and Keoleian 1995:3).

The idea of an industrial ecology is based on an analogy of natural ecological systems. In nature an ecological system operates through a web of connections in which organisms live and consume each other and each other?s waste. The system has evolved so that the character of communities of living organisms seems to encompass a notion that that nothing which contains available energy or useful material will be lost. There will evolve some organism that will manage to make its living by using any waste product that provides available energy or material. Ecologists talk of a food web: a mutual connection of organisms to each other?s wastes. The structure of a natural ecology and the structure of an industrial system, or an economic system,

are extremely similar (Frosch 1992:800, also in Garner and Keoleian 1995:31).

Broadly speaking, industrial ecology is the study of systems, which applies the multidisciplinary approach with orientation toward the future of analyzing interactions between industrial and ecological systems; material and energy flows and transformations; and changes from linear (open) processes to cyclical (closed) processes (so the waste from one industry is used as an input for another). Furthermore, it looks for ways to reduce the industrial systems? environmental impacts on ecological systems, to emphasize the harmonious integration of industrial activity into ecological systems, to suggest making industrial systems emulate more efficient and sustainable natural systems, and to identify the industrial and natural hierarchies, which indicate areas of potential study and action (Garner and Keoleian 1995). The goal of industrial ecology is to promote sustainable development at the global, regional, and local levels, which largely overlaps with the goals of the green economy principles.

Likewise, GE theory is fueled by the principles of environmental economics, which is a subset of economics concerned with the efficient allocation of environmental resources. The environment provides both a direct value as well as raw material intended for economic activity, thus making the environment and the economy interdependent. For that reason, the way in which the economy is managed has an impact on the environment which, in turn, affects both welfare and the performance of the economy (The Environmental Literacy Council 2007:6). Environmental economics examines human relationships with nature using rational choice models of human behavior. It analyzes the impact of economic activities on the environment, the significance of ecosystem to the economy, and suggests the appropriate ways of regulating economic activity so that balance is achieved in the society. Furthermore, environmental

economics is the understanding of various environmental factors, their influence in the economy, their functions upon the environment, and their impacts upon the life of the people of the present and future. Environmental economics also examines how the individual and society values the overall environmental dynamism and willingness to pay if needed to address the environment.

The ultimate goal of the GE is also embedded with the principles of sustainability. There is a link between social, economic, and environmental sustainability and green economics. The framework of sustainable development provides criteria for the management of human and economic development, while ensuring a proper and optimal function over time (Goodland and Daly 1996; UNEP 2007).

The GE is also based on the people-first approach whereas the concept of sustainability is based on the planet-first or equal-treatment approaches. Furthermore, the GE accepts the environment as the foundation for the furthering of people?s well-being by increasing the asset- base and productivity; empowering poor people and marginalized communities; reducing and managing risks; and taking a long-term perspective with regard to intra- and intergenerational equity (UNEP 2007). Environmental health is central to all four of these requirements. Long- term development can only be achieved through sustainable management of various assets such as financial, material, human, social, and natural. Natural assets, including water, soils, plants, and animals, underpin the livelihoods of all people. At the national level, natural assets account for 26 percent of the wealth of low-income countries. Sectors such as agriculture, fishery, forestry, tourism, and minerals provide important economic and social benefits to people. The challenge lies in the proper management of these resources (Bass 2006; World Bank 2006;

UNEP 2007:10). Sustainability and GE stand for quality of life (including and linking social, economic, and environmental aspects); care for the environment; thought for the future and the precautionary principle; fairness and equity; and participation and partnership (Gibbs 2000). The only difference between the two is the procedure of implementation. In addition to these major theoretical roots of the GE, it can also be examined under the various sociological theories such

as governance, stakeholder, institutional, network, and so on.

6. The GE and environmental sociological theory

The GE can be evaluated within scholarship of environmental sociology. Environmental sociological scholarship reviews human ecology; environmental attitudes, values, and behaviors; the environmental movement; and technological risks. It conducts the risk assessment and evaluates the political economy of environmental politics. Furthermore, environmental

sociology looks toward bridging the dualisms ? structure vs. agency, nominalism vs. realism, materialism vs. idealism, methodological precision vs. substantive importance ? that continue to

pervade the discipline as a whole (Buttel 1987:484- 1987). One of the core implications of the

GE is to look at the societal situation in relation to social and environmental justice. In the same line, environmental sociology looks at society as a globalized marketplace with the

understanding that the prevailing forces in our lives undermine the real importance of our human communities and our planet. Green Economics argues that society should be embedded within the ecosystem, and that markets and economies are social structures that should respond to social and environmental priorities (Cato 2008). Environmental sociology acknowledges the role of conservationist, naturalist, holistic approaches, and particularly international media, and looks at the societal influence on the global bio-physical environment. Similarly, it looks at environmental organizations as a loose network structures rather than as dense inter- organizational networks, and finds it difficult to function in corporatist arrangements (Buttel


In the broader theoretical line, sociologists have not examined the greening of the world, which is present in sociological scholarships. The New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) propounded by Dunlap and Liere (of 1977), is one example of sociologists? concerns about the connection of the environment and society. The NEP focuses on beliefs about humanity?s ability to upset the balance of nature, the existence of limits to growth for human societies, and humanity?s right to rule over the rest of nature (Goldman and Shurman 2000; Dunlap et al. 2000; Dunlap 2008).

Here the subject matter of the GE and the organization sociology largely overlap. In this regard, it is noteworthy to see that how the NEP can contribute to the extension of GE, which is still

largely being discussed in international environment conservation forums by the United Nations agencies (particularly the UNEP) and conservation organizations like the IUCN.

New ecological paradigm

New Ecological Paradigm (NEP)

Assumptions about

the nature of human beings

While humans have exceptional characteristics (culture, technology, etc.), they remain one among many species that are

interdependently involved in the global ecosystem.

Assumptions about

social causation

Human affairs are influenced not only by social and cultural factors, but also by intricate link- ages of cause, effect, and

feed- back in the web of nature; thus purposive human actions

have many unintended consequences.

Assumptions about

the context of human society

Humans live in and are dependentt upon a finite biophysical environment which imposes potent physical and biological

restraints on human affairs.

Assumptions about constraints on

human society

Although the inventiveness of humans and the powers derived therefrom may seem for a while to extend carrying capacity limits, ecological laws cannot be repealed

Source: Catton and Dunlap 1980:34; Modified from Buttel 1987:470

It is evident that the subject matters listed in the NEP are subject matters of the GE and

are situated in the same nexus. Both try to understand and search for options to reduce the public pressure on the global ecosystem, with the understanding of the conventional (forest

degradation, water pollution, air pollution, acid rain etc.) and the newly explored (climate change, ozone hole, rise in the global temperature and glacier recession) cause-and-effect environmental problems. The principles of environmental sociology, the NEP, and Green Economics as Kennet and Heinemann (2006) note, are positioned within a very long-term, earth-wide, holistic context of reality as a part of nature. It also incorporates and celebrates difference, diversity, equity, and inclusiveness within its concepts of society and community. Its philosophy is to manage economics for nature as usual, rather than to manage the environment for business as usual. Green Economics can incorporate a much wider, more practical, multidisciplinary range of knowledge than other schools of economics (Kennet and Heinemann 2006:68).

Green Economics highlights forward thinking for long term impact and searches for high- technology based on the practicality of environmentalism on the basis of social dynamism. However, because the concept is so new there is an urgent need to incorporate accepted sociological knowledge to foster more theoretical grounding. Linking the theory into the efforts of the UNEP for greening the world, the Max Weber concept of rationalism and the avenue of the global leadership hold very strong positions. Weber focuses on the trend of rationalization

in organizational governance in both the public and private sectors of modern societies and how society can produce more goods and services to fulfill social needs through formal forms of organizations. It is important to acknowledge that the former and current Secretary General of the United Nations, as well the Director General of the UNEP, have been trying to implement policy directives through UN agencies. Although there are few indications of a positive direction, it is too early to state the effectiveness of the initiatives. The UN has, for example, implemented varieties of environmental policy instruments such as standards; bans; permits and

quotas; zonings; liabilities; legal redress; and flexible regulations (UNEP 2010), as seen in Table


Environmental policy instruments and focus


and-control regulations

Direct provision by


Engaging the

public and the private sectors

Using markets

Creating markets


Bans Permits and quotas


Liability Legal redress Flexible regulation

Environmental infrastructure

Eco-industrial zones or parks

National parks, protected areas and recreation facilities

Ecosystem rehabilitation


participation Decentralization Information


Eco-labeling Voluntary agreements Public-private partnerships

Removing perverse

subsidies Environmental taxes and charges

User charges

Deposit-refund systems

Targeted subsidies


(such as ISO 14000)

Property rights

Tradable permits and rights

Offset programs

Green procurement

Environmental investment funds Seed funds and incentives Payment for

ecosystem services

UNEP 2007:468

However, by nature, the implementation of the international policy instruments in the complex phenomena and the globalized the concept and follow the complexity procedure and still try to incorporate all most all component of GE.

7. Theory of governance, and GE

The UNEP policy directive on governance notes that the term ?governance? has been defined in many different ways, which vary according to the scope and locus of decision-making power (ECOSOC 2010). In recent times, many governance functions that influence individual and collective behavior have been executed beyond the exclusive remit of governments. Accordingly, there has been a shift to a definition under which the governance, at whatever level of social organization it may take place, refers to conducting the public?s business by the collection of authoritative rules, institutions, and practices by means of which any collectivity manages its affairs (Ruggie 2004). The most important actors in the process of IEG include national governments; intergovernmental organizations such as the UN and its specialized bodies; civil society groups; private sector associations; and a variety of partnerships between public, private, and civil society actors. The key institutions and mechanisms through which

IEG is carried out include a multitude of intergovernmental, non-state, and public-private processes and initiatives that vary in format, structure, and membership (UNEP 2010: 2).

Governance engenders a number of perspectives and definitions which are closely linked with the concept of a green economy and the IUCN?s efforts in mainstreaming the environmental governance principles. This definitional claim of Kahn and Zald (1990) is useful to examine the relationships between the IUCN and its members including INGOs, NGOs, national

governments, and private enterprises. It is an established notion that the global governance includes both nation-state and the non-state actors (INGOs, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and private sectors (McKormick, 1999; Kauffman 1997; Schreurs 1997). In the social sciences, governance is also sometimes explained in Foucaultian terms (Baldwin 2003; Agrawal 2005), where government means less of the political or administrative structures of the modern state but

rather the people?s internalization of the rules that leads to types of self-governance, that is

governance without active external enforcement (Foucault 1991). Foucault?s work is notable; it philosophically illustrates the extensive social and political structures, including the state,

bureaucracy, and professions that are utilized in framing the GE. It also describes how knowledge and power are utilized by a hybrid international organization (such as the IUCN) at the state and transnational levels. In the broader sense governance is a matter of resolving conflicts, finding common purpose, and/or overcoming inefficiencies between actors in situations of interdependent choice (Barnett and Duvall 2005:6).

There are various players in global governance that include: multilateral organizations, such as the UN, IMF, World Bank and WTO; international associations, such as the G8, OECD, the Commonwealth and NATO; inter-regional groups, such as SAARC, APEC, and the Trans- Atlantic Partnership; regional bodies like the EU and NAFTA; private governance, such as the IUCN, Greenpeace, WWF, Amnesty International etc.; national governments, of which there are approximately 230 in the world; and finally subnational governments like US states, Canadian provinces, and the German Lšnder etc. (Cable 1999 as in World Humanity Action Trust 2000).

8. GE and Global Environmental Governance (GEG)

Global environmental governance (GEG) is the sum of organizations, policy instruments, financing mechanisms, rules, procedures and norms that regulate the processes of global environmental protection. In the contemporary world, there has been increase in the awareness of environmental threats. As a result numerous efforts have emerged to address them globally.

Since environmental issues entered the international agenda in the early 1970s, global environmental politics and policies have been developing rapidly (Najam et al.2006:6). In the development of environmental policies the agencies of the United Nations have played the most important roles. Similarly, from the nongovernmental sector, the IUCN is only the IO who is involved in environmental governance policy formation. The GEG is the complex issue; therefore it is extremely difficult to evaluate success and failure. Najam et al. (2006) have tried to outline major efforts of UN in GEG reform, especially in strengthening the role of the UNEP.

The weakness of the GEG, particularly in the case of the UNEP, has been largely discussed in the UN General Assembly. In this line, with the realization of a strong international

environmental conservation organization, the French President, Jacques Chirac, called for the creation of a United Nations Environmental Organization (UNEO) at the UN General Assembly in 2003. In response to President Chirac?s presentation, an informal working group was set up to facilitate dialogue among governments on UNEP reform (Najam et al. 2006). From 2003, there have been long debates in the UN General Assembly and in international forums about the global authority of environmental governance. Similarly, there have been discussions regarding models of GEG reform such as the Compliance Model, which advocates for the creation of a body that could provide binding decisions; and the New Agency Model, which refers to creating a new organization outside the UNEP with concentrated environmental responsibilities and the ability

to steer UN agencies in relation to environmental issues. This model has been highlighted mostly by the Bierman et al. mostly since 2000.

Bierman (2004:17) argues that creating a UNEO would pave the way for the elevation of environmental policies on the agenda of governments, international organizations, and private organizations; it could assist in developing the capacities for environmental policy in African, Asian, and Latin American countries; and it would improve the institutional environment for the negotiation of new conventions and action programs as well as for the implementation and coordination of existing ones.

Similarly the UNEP model focuses to upgrade the UNEP as a departure point for improving environmental governance and suggests upgrading it to a Specialized agency to

strengthen its status. Likewise, the Multiple Actors Model argues that the system of governance comprises multiple actors whose actions need to be mutually reinforcing and better coordinated. Without better integration of these multiple actors, organizational rearrangement cannot resolve institutional problems (Najam et al. 2006:17-20). The success and failure of the governance depends on the governments? and other stakeholders? commitments and mutual efforts to attain the goals. In the case of environmental management it has a chain of difficulties largely associated with the public well-being. As Bierman (2004:12) notes, the UNGO is a political response to economic, cultural, social, and eco-logical globalization. It is not initiated and developed by some centralized decision-making body, but by an amalgam of centers of authority at various levels.

The efficacy of the current system of global governance has been the subject of intense debate. It is not only a normative discussion as to increased global governance, but likewise a debate on better global governance. By nature the success of GEG depends on political will. As World Humanity Action Trust (2000) notes, the challenge of GEG can also be seen on the basis of the World?s Commons, whereas issues of responsibility have always been challenging. Furthermore, the effectiveness of GEG also depends on the capacity of tackling the commons as well as on the formation of coping strategies, and the availability of infrastructures for implementation.

The cause of ineffective GEG is due to the lack of cooperation and coordination among international organizations; the lack of implementation, compliance, enforcement, and effectiveness; inefficient use of resources; and global governance outside the environmental arena. Other causes of GEG?s ineffectiveness can be noted similar to the analysis of Najam et al. (2006:24), such as the lack of leadership; developing country concerns; institutional fiefdoms; lack of political will; and the balance of national interests versus global environmental problems. They further note that developing countries have legitimate concerns about the state of the international system. They are already distrustful of the international system in general and are especially concerned about the rapid growth of environmental instruments and its possible impacts on their economic growth. Although developing countries are not necessarily beholden to the status quo, they fear that any change will necessarily make things even worse. Likewise, the UN institutions that are the major responsible body to implement the governance principles are often loath to let go of any part of their authority even where overlap and duplication are obvious.

There is also a marked decrease in the importance attached to environmental issues by the international community.

9. Conclusion

The economy is often given priority in policies and the environment is viewed as apart from humans. They are interconnected, with the economy dependent on society and the environment while human existence and society are dependent on, and within the environment. The separation of environment, society and economy often leads to a narrow techno-scientific approach, while issues to do with society that are most likely to challenge the present socio-economic structure are often marginalized, in particular the sustainability of communities and the maintenance of cultural diversity (Giddings 2002:187).

This paper largely looks only the contemporary scene of macro level theories in which the concept of green economy (GE) is embedded; whereas GE broadly aims to forester the global economy without hampering the earth ecosystem and boost social justice. However, there has been a long history of utilization of creativity for the human wellbeing without destroying the nature. Though in academia it has been documenting as a means of economic transformation only since 1980s (Hopwood et al. 2005; Donald 2010), when scholars began to examine the relationship between humans and the environment. The green economy theory is based on the neoclassical welfare economics; ecological economics and environmental/resource economics; industrial ecology; scholarship of the environmental sociology; ecological modernization theory etc.; however these concepts are in the trajectory to stand as new theory particularly the GE, which is close sibling of sustainable development (SD) and highly in global discussion. There is an assumption that GE tries to utilize the resources in sustainable way; bridge the gap of North and South, has long term focus; and is based on the integrated models with cause-effect relationships; and able to empower local communities and enhance environmental ethics (IIED- GlobeScan 2011).

Theoretically, it is possible to interpret environmental problems and recommend environmental reforms with the application of technology-intensive policies to manage the environment problems both in the developed and the developing world (e.g., through analysis of the existing situation, formulation of policy options, and encouragement to apply environment friendly advance technology for sustainable world). The GE initiative is embedded within the frame of sustainable development, including the globalization processes and global transformations, and providing the know-how to perceive global economic growth in a positive way.

However, till now there has been no institutional model that encompasses the responsibility to fulfill these assumptions and objectives of the GE.

Innovative knowledge institutions and partnerships are needed, and they must be guided by certain principles. Highly varied local situations and the uncertainty of complex social and ecological systems call for flexible, experimental, and adaptive learning-based approaches. The new institutions must also be problem-driven. The alleviation of poverty and environmental sustainability should be explicit goals for which knowledge must be generated. Institutions must transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries to generate new ideas and technologies and link science with policy and governance to frame questions and foster social change (Bawa, et al. 2008:126).

There is no global institution which can implement initiatives like GE and can bridge the gap between North and South. The role of international organizations (particularly the United Nations; the World Bank) has not been very healthy particularly in global environmental governance (Najam et al. 2006; Bierman 2004), whereas success and failure of the inventiveness GE aims to archive largely depended on how governance mechanism operate in particular niche. The GE concept is based on basket and macro assumption and too broad and too complex. The contemporary world problems can only be solved when micro level, sectoral and people driven approach is created and implemented. There is a need of umbrella institution, with the flexible

mandates, freedom from bureaucratic control, and a focus on specific problems, and able to forge the frameworks to implement work that is relevant to the identified societal needs (Bawa et al

2008), and can work with the principles of mutuality and can create the collaborative platform

from global, continental, regional and national to the local level, with the especial focus to the developing world. Only the hybrid institution (German and Keeler 2010) can create the above mentioned situation; and creating such institutional architecture might be one of the options to enhance the feasibility of GE; however, there no any concept flowing to create such umbrella agency. GE without having the institutional frame assume too much about greening as an engine for growth, sectoral opportunities, hurdles and enabling conditions, the value of ecosystems and biodiversity, and the vicious cycle of environmental losses and persistent poverty.

There is also strategic uncertainty in applying green economy theory especially to the developing world because of the:

Uncertainty about the likelihood of adverse effects global environmental change; Over the consequences of change;

Over the speed of changes; and

About discontinuities and mostly the uncertainty over the effectiveness of policy instruments

To effectively imply the GE it is essential to have a firm commitment and consensus on how concept can be implemented. Several existing Agreements are not legally binding in their current form and lack clarity around a timeline for establishing a legally binding regime, which could help to obtain the goal of green economy.

These concepts are still a relatively new; therefore there is an urgent need to advance knowledge to foster more theoretical grounding for these green paradigms. I believe that for GE to flourish,

it should focus on beliefs about humanity?s ability to upset the balance of nature, the existence of limits to growth for human societies, and humanity?s right to rule over the rest of nature, which

is one of the major missing point of green economy concept.

Particularly, the GE philosophy should design in ways that provide an equal platform for both South and North to manage the environment by creating an effective institutional structure, strong policy, and framework for policy implementation that can work effectively, efficiently, equitably and transparently within the frame of global governance. The task that lies before us, particularly of the developing world, where environmental problems are more severe

We, as scholars and practitioners, have to help define this innovative and ambitious architecture and need to frame the model which fits for developing world.

Acknowledgements: Author thanks to the Syracuse University for providing the funding support to conduct this research and to Dr. Steven R. Brechin, Mr. Peter Englot and Ms. Prajita Bhandari for their insightful comments, input and language editing and also like to thank the reviewer panel for their input and comments.


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