• Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: eco-union
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Infrastructure (1 hits),

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Organization: eco-union (Barcelona, Spain)
Contact: Jérémie Fosse, President eco-union & Director Global Eco Forum
Web : &
Report prepared by Mourad Gahnen, Idoia Arauzo & Jérémie Fosse (eco-union), with the support of Ester Xicota & Mathieu Durrande (ecodigma), Virginia Domingo (CADS), Gusman Catari (UAB), William Benthall (Esade), Sergi Rovira, among others collaborators.

Note: this report has not been fully revised by all participants of the Global Eco Forum and might be subject to change. Latest versions in English, Catalan and Spanish will be published at

1. Presentation of Global Eco Forum

1. Scope and methodology of the forum

The Global Eco Forum is an independent, annual and international multi-stakeholders conference around sustainability. It offers an open space for collective and systemic reflection towards environmental sustainability and emerging think-to-action tank of current and future opinion leaders and actors for change towards sustainable development in the Catalan, Spanish and Euro- Mediterranean region. It includes international dialogues between representatives of business, NGO?s, government and academia as well as thematic workshops to explore in depth key topics in a collaborative way.
The Global Eco Forum is a project organized by eco-union, a not for profit and independent Spanish NGO created in 2005 in Barcelona focused on education, research and innovation for Sustainability. The Global Eco Forum has the support of a multi-stakeholders and multi-level advisory committee with more than 50 sustainability experts from NGO?s, government, business and academia, to prepare the key topics and participative sessions of the Global Eco Forum. It is mainly funded by Catalan and Spanish government with the active support of Mediterranean bodies such as IEMed and UfM.

2. Last 2011 edition focused on Rio+20

This Global Eco Forum 2011 aimed to open a process of debate and dialogue of the civil society aimed at the preparation of the Earth summit Río+20 in 2012. From this dialogue and workshops was defined the forthcoming vision and recommendations to UNCSD draft zero towards a global sustainable development of Catalan, Spanish and Euro-Mediterranean region. The Global Eco Forum 2011 took place in La Pedrera, Barcelona, from 25th to 26th of October 2011, with more than 350 participants and 50 speakers from Catalonia, Spain and various Mediterranean countries (Italy, Greece, France, Palestine and Egypt). Main plenary sessions were live streamed on internet and recorded for further diffusion in our on-line social network. Previous to this high profile event, a meeting of the advisory committee took place the 14th July 2011 with more than 40 participants, to prepare the participative sessions on Green Economy within the Global Eco Forum.

3. Participants and key debates

Some of the speakers and participants includes key representatives from Euro-Med thinks tanks (Anna Lindh Foundation, IEMed), government (Catalonia and Spain), Multinationals companies (Danone, Havas), SME?s (eco entrepreneurs), NGO?s (Greenpeace, WWF, IUCN), Academia (UAB, Esade), among others.
The key questions explored in this forum were

 What is the meaning of Green Economy and governance of Sustainability in our own social and cultural context, i.e. Catalonia, Spain and Euro-Mediterranean region?
 What are the expectations and recommendations of the civil society towards Rio+20 Summit?

2. Challenges and recommendations for sustainable development

1. State of the (un)sustainability

We believe that nowadays it is vital to reduce the consumption of resources in the planet and in our region (Catalonia, Spain, Euro-med). The current consumption trend in term of resources is enormous and the effort that should be maid is extremely worrying. The Global Eco Forum stresses that it has been well proven that there is a strong correlation between natural resources consumption and economical growth on one side and between technological progress and consumption on the other side. Growth and energy go hand in hand. The only slight consumption reduction we observed in some European countries recently was due to increased importation from China or economic recession but not due to our efforts to move to a greener economy. Technological progress has always come with more natural and energy resources use; this has been a standard through history because of the well - known ?rebound effect?.

2. Weakness around sustainable development

The analysis of the current situation of the euro-med region regarding the transition toward a sustainable society leads to observe that everywhere local sustainable initiatives are happening but there is no general map or systemic/inclusive approach.

Objectively, the overall picture is one of an endless growth model which is unsustainable and will surely collapse in the next few years. The majority still believes in ?developmentism? (with a certain obsession for big infrastructures), ?productivism? and consumerism? as being the most important drivers for (economic) growth, missing the link with inclusiveness, general well-being, happiness and prosperity. In this panorama of the euro-med region some causes and responsibilities of this were identified:

 Incoherent governance

The ambiguity at best or hypocrisy at worst that many institutions and decision makers say one thing but end-up doing another is a major issue. Many opposite signals have been sent to society, for example with speeches enhancing the importance of renewable energy but at the same time charging taxes against it or pleading for a responsible agriculture but financing an extensive one contrary to this. This kind of simple observation that the citizen can easily make is a clear indicator at different levels of the ambiguous and incoherent path taken by decision makers regarding a transition toward a sustainable model of development.
The evidence suggests that there has not been a serious change of paradigm understanding and its corresponding attitude with the majority of decision makers. The private and public sectors show the same incoherence, they often keep the sustainable economical approach as a vision and simply talking about it (communication and marketing departments) but with not enough impulse to integrate it to the decision moment and to implement it. Even the U.E. itself gives incoherent signals sometimes with two conflicting attitudes: for example financing transition tools and steps toward sustainability but, at the same time financing some big Infrastructure which are questionable for sustainability and local development.

 Undefined institutional framework

Beside the creation and superposition of several networks and unions (Union for the Mediterranean, Barcelona process) we still don¶t have a sufficient institutional framework. Most of these organizations are still in the process of defining their role and structuring themselves, their link to civil society is also generally weak or ³under constru ction´.

The actual biggest challenge is the enormous gap between a globalised and structured finance sector leading the paradigm of the very short term and the on going and slow process of construction of a regional and global governance. This gives an obvious systemic advantage to short term economic benefit planning over long term sustainable developpement strategies.

How we manage an interconnected world with the governance processes lagging behind is one of the questions the forum is highlighting. All these aspects led us to an important fragmentation and limitation in term of decisions that remains at the margin of the system being constantly questioned by 'classical´ approach of medenvt.e lAonpy conservationalist (ecological) advance is often restricted by another conflicting parallel decision.

 Insufficient legislation

Governments have failed to create a legal framework which would help the investment in cultural, social and natural capital. As a result there is not enough protection of these common goods from predation and captation from some selected entities using it to create easy private benefit. The lack of regulation has led in numerous cases to an obvious exploitation of ³all wh aarto¶usnd us´ from some actors on a very short term plan in a complete disregard to sustainability.

The multilateral governance forums such as the protocols in Kyoto, Montréal, etc. have shown to be ineffective at reaching agreements and just as weak at implementing them. The lack of legislation framework set us back unfortunately to a dominant law of the mightiest (strongest). Working with regulation on the tax systems (paying/getting tax refunds for good/wrong environmental behaviours) is broadly recognized by our participants (see Workshops) as the wiser and most relevant and powerful tool to reach some results in our transition toward sustainable development.

 Negative economic conjuncture

The current economic phase, made up of the so-called economicrc isis³´ (in the north), e conomic 'crisis´ and governance redefinition in the south of the Mediterranean area, seems to worsen the tendencies of decision makers to give priority to short term thinking and take decisions which are against Sustainable Development paradigm. A radical change of paradigm is needed in this precise moment. However it looks unlikely that weak decisions makers would have the courage and capacity to make it happen.

 Absence of a strong and shared vision

The same problems of cultural, social and environmental aspects connect south and north of the Mediterranean Sea. Human, cultural and natural capital is object of a predation from individual and private interest which forbids any sustainable management. There is no integration of these cultural social and ecological costs for human society in the current models.

3. Main transversal recommendations for sustainability

The forum leads us to a set of transversal recommendations to reach true sustainability:

 Create human capital: to get a critical mass of people with the knowledge and understanding of what is at stake.

 Push for collective intelligence processes: to produce initiatives backed by enough people with good awareness of sustainability.

 Choose a governance that has a strategic vision (long term): to use the human capital wisely and the collective intelligence processes to walk toward changes.

 Create systems and structures: to implement and monitor the whole path between strategic vision/principles and the field.

4. Main strategic recommendations for sustainability

Our forum through several dialogues and workshop suggests some specific and strategic recommendations for Euro-Med region:

- Create a shared vision in which new common enemies (e.g. climate change, pollution, water scarcity, desertification, etc.) are identified and are fought together.

- Develop a genuine process of planning together and harmonize legislation to respond to the common environmental challenges

- Guarantee transparency of the tax system and products environmental impact rather than only with subsidies and complex public policies.

- Promote equality among stakeholders (even when there no real equality: e.g. income distribution) and show equal respect for all parts (including the less experienced and powerful).

- Collaborate with civil society to play a major role in sustainable development and strive to achieve a win-win situation

- Prioritize on practicalities to make tangible progress at short and medium term and to maintain the commitment of citizens and politicians for more radical long term objectives.

- Empower the consumer and engage businesses to achieve societal transparency and corporate responsibility, key to good governance.

5. Final conclusion to implement sustainability

A decisive and collaborative action of the citizens, public and private sector is required. A change of the type of economic, social and environmental model in which we live is needed. For this, it is necessary to posses the capacity to develop lobbying tools to change the current development model but it is difficult unless a majority share the diagnosis and a vision of the future. In this sector we need leadership and courage to change from civil society.

3. Green Economy for sustainable development

1. Scope and methodology

In order to define and boost green economy both at Mediterranean, Spanish and Catalan level, specific highly participate workshops have been undertaken with around 60 experts of sustainability from academia, government, NGO and private sector, divided around six sub-themes directly linked to green economy. All participants were askedk e³y wihnaitita tivweos uld be the you'd suggest to make the transition toward a gr aenedn coelcleoctniovemly?y a´greed on the following main recommendations.

2. Concrete Recommendations

1) Support to existing economic sectors that generate green work places, such as renewables and energy efficiency, water cleaning and distribution, waste recycling,...

At Euro-Med workshop:

· Development of green urbanism, such as city mobility sharing systems that reduce pollution, less congestion and improve productivity and well-being of the population.

· Creation of sectorial clusters of excellence to identify and promote regional and national skills.

At Catalan workshop:

· Clear and stable business regulation to generate a long term vision and give time for the pay-back of the investment.

· Strategic alliances between big and small actors to access major projects and re-launch of a new industrial productive sector.

· Promotion of active public policies to identify, prioritize key sectors according to efficiency/competitiveness criteria

2) Support to new emerging green sectors, such as eco-entrepreneurship, eco-tourism, eco- mobility...

At Euro-Med workshop:

· Green screening community to match production and demand in new sectors and increase transparency of products and services.

· Increase capacity of the public administration to support green entrepreneurs (set KPIs) and boost innovation in new green businesses

At Catalan workshop:

· Labels and funding for green enterprises: definition and differentiation, giving access to funding through business angels and venture capitals

· Promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation at different levels of education and training, learning from experience, losing fear to risk/failure

· Promoting networks for transfer of knowledge and business opportunities: services to entrepreneurs, voluntary legislation, dissemination of success stories, green competitions, promoting of sector cooperation

3) New Public Policies to greeni wngho ltehe economy´, such as green taxes, elimination of bad subsidies, green regulation...

At Euro-Med workshop:

· Achieve support from all stakeholders on climate change improving climate literacy to have a multi-national agreements and stop leakages (rebound, carbon leaks, green paradox & effectiveness)

· Promote renewable energies reducing price gap between fossil and renewables through subsidy reform (no more hidden subsidy on fossil fuels) and shift taxes from labour to environmental damages.

· Implement a package of whole and integrated green economy policies across all key sectors (housing, food, transport, energy...) including education policy and pollution taxes, green investment and investment on social sector.

At Catalan workshop:

· Implementation of new environmental taxes instead of subsidies: internalisation of externalities, adjusting prices relating to environment impact (fair transition)

· Promotion of voluntary accords in the private and public sector (without stopping legislation) as a driving force to reactivate economy

· Raising awareness around green products and services: eco-entrepreneurs associations, club of ethical and green procurement, eco-consumers associations

4) New indicators to foster transition towards green policies beyond GDP

At Euro-Med workshop:

· Select a group of ten indicators (balanced score cards) as main indicators of new economy increasing transparency and consensus among stakeholders.

· Link the political strategy to concrete indicators and specific targets (short, medium, long term) agreed among citizens, politicians and other key stakeholders.

At Catalan workshop:

· Public consultation process with experts about definition and objectives of the green economy

· Integration of social and environmental impact in the cost of products and services

5) Raising citizen awareness around green economy challenges and opportunities

At Euro-Med workshop:

· Honest, coherent and shared narrative from governments and other stakeholders about our common future to restructure the economy. promote green economy and integrate systemic change

At Catalan workshop:

· Public campaign to create positive expectations about the change process towards green economy

· Promotion of transparency through labelling to positively influence buying decision, promoting competitiveness towards sustainability and giving power to consumers.

· Social cooperation within civil society: co-responsibility to change and to implement green economy

6) Training and education for sustainability

At Euro-Med workshop:

· Review and sharing of best practices of formal, informal and non-formal education for sustainability to inspire and promote collective knowledge

· Create guides, frameworks and tools to improve eco-innovative learning practices (action-oriented, holistic approach, learning from failure) in existing campuses and curriculums.

· Creation of new eco-universities to boost radical innovation from start without resistance from existing structures, and inspire other campuses.

At Catalan workshop:

· Integration of the sustainability concept in the educational curriculums plans in all levels: university, vocational training, primary school...

· Development of a life-long learning plan about sustainable development basic skills: professional recycling, eco-entrepreneurship, vocational training

· Promoting global and local research on education for sustainable development

3. Main conclusions on green economy

The analysis of the outputs of the workshops on green economy highlights two key transversal issues: 1) the central role of tax policy reform to create the stimulus for green economy and 2) the basic role of education initiatives (formal, informal non-formal).

In the first workshop on green economy for euro-med region, participants have raised the idea of the creation of a new university specialised on sustainability as well as the fact of having an honest narrative from governments about our common future. Adequate pollution taxes systems, package of policies integrating all sectors (housing, food, transport, energy...) as well as increasing the number of city mobility sharing system initiatives were very well backed.

In the second workshop focused on green economy for Catalonia, the participants stressed the urgency of environmental taxes policy. Incorporate the social and environmental costs in the economy are seen as a basic and transparent measure. The second major aspect is the integration of sustainability at all levels of education (university, vocational, primary and secondary) .

3. General conclusions

As seen previously, the Global Eco Forum has been able to define collectively key recommendations on green economy and good governance of sustainability in Catalonia, Spain and Euro-Med region as inputs for Rio+20 draft zero.

We are fairly concerned that general awareness around this Earth summit is still very low in the society and we need to make sure that our main political, economic and social leaders are present at the maximum level, not only from environment but also finance, education, research, health and other key sectors of our society.

In the Euro-Med region, a specific task has to be made to include and educate new leaders coming into power after Arab spring revolution. The success of building a common sustainable agenda in the Mediterranean area would be a strong positive message sent to the rest of the world due to the high diversity and historic challenges within this region.

Finally the outputs of Rio+20 has to define a clear, transparent and legally binding roadmap with specific quantified targets, resources and deadlines similar to the Millennium Development goals.
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