UN Environment Programme (UNEP) spokesman Nick Nuttall said a new indicator for wealth in the world should be created besides the gross domestic product to deliver a broader sense of wealth, with environment factored in.
"We live in a planet where there is something called GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and everything is somehow calibrated around that, " Nuttall told Xinhua in Nairobi, the headquarter of UNEP. "So if GDP is going up, everybody is happy. They think they are getting richer. But in fact it doesn't capture the environmental degradation inside right now."
"You can cut down your trees and it would be a positive benefit on your GDP because you can sell them as logs," Nuttall made an example, "but it doesn't talk at all about the loss of river systems and soil stabilization services and biodiversity and species."
Nuttall said UNEP hopes to deliver a newer and broader sense of what wealth really is in the upcoming "RIO+20" summit this June.
UNEP's new sense and solution is "Green Economy." Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP and many other UNEP officials advocated this green concept in kinds of occasions.
In UNEP's point of view, the key point of "Green Economy" is that nations can develop their economy and protect the environment at the same time. Protecting environment is not the reason to block the development of economy. On the contrary, it should be the catalyst and facilitator for the growth of one nation's economy.
Nuttall pointed out, green economy "is related about people's livelihoods." "In the last years UNEP set the broad analysis to the concept in the table on what green economy is and actually how we can grow our economies," he said, adding "we have convened the best scientists over the world to look at some of the environmental challenges that are unfolding."
Except the effort from UNEP, Nuttall also emphasized the role of government in developing a sustainable economic power. "From the governments' point of view, governments really have to set the policies they can to unleash sustainable developments. The governments need to look at their taxation systems and they need to look at things like encouraging policies that for examples reward companies or citizens who invest (in sustainable economy) or purchase (green goods)," the spokesman said.
At the same time, Nuttall confirmed the importance of individual behavior. "When it comes to individuals the way we consume and the way we choose to buy an item is absolutely a key. We do have choices of consumers to change the trajectory of economies," he said.
In Nuttall's consideration, buying green goods or services and turning to the markets in favor of sustainable products and services with less environmental damage are "what we can currently do."
When talking about China's efforts to promote the environment protection and sustainable development, Nuttall believed China "is a rapidly growing economy" and during her development, the major environment problems were "air pollution, river pollution and land degradation."
"In fact, China was a pioneer of the idea of looking at the economical cost of environmental degradation in few years ago and I think the government was keen on learning that their GDP hadn't grown quite as much as they had thought because the environmental degradation before hadn't been factored in."
Nuttall said the Chinese government recognizes that they need to fast track a more sustainable economic power of the country. "China is trying a lot and move itself into the green economy path. What China does is significant for not only its neighbors, but also for the entire world," he said.