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Thematic Debate on the Green Economy: A Pathway to Sustainable Development (United Nations General Assembly)
2 Jun 2011 - 2 Jun 2011
New York City (UNHQ)

Ever since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, sustainable development has been a guiding principle for development and cooperation activities around the world. A goal to be achieved, sustainable development is characterized by the simultaneous realization of economic development, social development and environmental protection.

Although the prevailing economic development model has led to improvements in human wellbeing for many, it has also in some instances generated uneven economic growth, social inequity and environmental damage. These shortcomings stem from a series of market and institutional failures embedded in the prevailing system. For instance, the cost of pollution is not sufficiently reflected in the price of goods; public goods such as freshwater and fisheries suffer from overexploitation; and people whose livelihoods depend upon natural resources are often excluded from the decision-making processes that govern those resources.

The Green Economy seeks to correct the systemic market and institutional shortcomings of the prevailing development model and thereby make economies a more effective tool for achieving sustainable development. Green economy consists of a range of public policy approaches (e.g., expenditures, taxes, regulations, institutional reforms) and private sector actions that fix market and institutional failures. Which approaches and actions are most suitable will vary between nations, depending on their current stage of economic development, natural resource base, human and social capital and other conditions.

Where sustainable development is the destination, green economy offers a pathway.

Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication is one of two major themes of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) in 2012. But questions still abound. What are the characteristics of green economy? What are the barriers to achieving green economy? Based on lessons learned from case examples, how can a country transition to a green economy? How can green economy serve as a pathway to sustainable development?

The informal Thematic Debate of the General Assembly on the Green Economy will address these and related questions. The debate aims to strengthen the understanding of green economy and of what the international community, each Member State and local communities can do to transition to green economy. Through a series of keynote addresses, moderated panel discussions and interactive dialogue, delegates and other participants will be able to discuss the opportunities, challenges, and strategies for advancing a green economy.

The thematic debate will underscore the linkages between green economy, economic development, poverty eradication and environmental protection. It is envisioned that these discussions, which will be captured in the Presidents Summary, will help strengthen mutual understanding and support international collaboration regarding green economy.

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