The Transition to a Green Economy
Benefits, Challenges and Risks from a Sustainable Development Perspective
The concept of a green economy has become a center of policy debates in recent years. During the recent global financial crisis, the United Nations General Assembly and several UN agencies underscored that the crisis represented an opportunity to promote green economy initiatives as part of the stimulus packages being put in place to support the recovery. Furthermore, when the GA decided to call a UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, it chose as one of its major themes “a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”.
The concept carries the promise of a new economic growth paradigm that is friendly to the earth’s ecosystems and can also contribute to poverty alleviation. Viewed in this framework, it is compatible with the older concept of sustainable development that has been mainstreamed into the United Nations’ work for decades. But it also entails risks and challenges, particularly for developing countries, for whom economic development becomes more demanding and the fear arises that the new concept could be used to reinforce protectionist trends, enhance the conditionality associated with international financial cooperation, and unleash new forces that would reinforce international inequalities.
About the Author
José Antonio Ocampo
Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD)
Jose Antonio Ocampo is Co-President of IPD, Professor of Professional Practice in the School of International and Public Affairs, and Fellow of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. Prior to his appointment at Columbia, Professor Ocampo served as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and head of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), as Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and has held a number of high-level posts in the Government of Colombia, including Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Director of the National Planning Department, and Minister of Agriculture . Professor Ocampo is author or editor of over 30 books and has published over 200 scholarly articles on macroeconomic theory and policy, international financial issues, economic development, international trade, and Colombian and Latin American economic history.