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UNEP report says environment investment to spur economic growth
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A newly published report published by the UN environmental agency underscores how environmental investments can get the global and national economies back to sustainable work. The report launched in Nairobi on Monday says one third of the around 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars-worth of planned stimulus packages should be invested on 'greening' the world economy. This would assist in powering the global economy out of recession and onto a Green, 21st century path.

The report, A Global Green New Deal, commissioned on behalf of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative, was written by Professor Edward B Barbier of the University of Wyoming.

Its findings, alongside those of the UNEP Year Book 2009, were presented to over 100 environment ministers attending UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi. "The 2.5 to 3 trillion dollars to be mobilized over the next 24 months to tackle the economic crisis are sums almost unthinkable just 12 months ago," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director.

"Spent wisely and creatively they offer the chance to deal with the today's immediate crises and begin focusing and framing a response to those on the horizon from future food shortages, natural resource scarcity, energy security and climate change," he added.

The estimated 750 billion dollars of green investment, equal to about one percent of current global GDP, could trigger significant, multiple and potentially transformational returns. Allied to innovative market mechanisms and fiscal policies, these include:stimulating clean tech innovation, stabilizing and boosting employment in decent jobs and protecting vulnerable groups. Others include cutting carbon dependency and greenhouse gas emissions, reducing degradation of multi-trillion dollar ecosystems and their goods and services and tackling water scarcity

"The Global Green New Deal report, part of the UNEP Green Economy initiative, is being presented here to ministers from the North and the South as an anti-dote to the current economic woes. It represents an opportunity to accelerate towards innovation-led, low carbon, low waste Green Economy societies with decent employment prospects for many more millions of people," said Steiner. "Several economies, such as the United States; China; the Republic of Korea; Japan; Germany, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom are already earmarking parts of their multi-billion dollar stimulus packages for environmental investments. This report is designed to inform a public debate and perhaps assist those who may be unsure how to proceed so they too can turn crisis into opportunity," he added.

The report says G20, comprising of the 20 largest developed and developing economies, who next meet in London in April, is the first opportunity to begin shaping a Global Green New Deal. Such a Deal can also set the stage for a successful outcome to the crucial UN climate change meeting later in the year in Copenhagen, Denmark. These are among the findings of the Global Green New Deal report, written in consultation with experts from over 25 UN bodies and external organizations including the OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"This agenda-- this locomotive for sustainable development-- is as relevant to developing and emerging economies as it is to industrialized ones," said Steiner. "Greening the economy is as much about greening overseas development aid development; bilateral and multilateral assistance; south-south cooperation and direct foreign investment as it is about national investment. Pavan Sukhdev, Project Leader of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative who is on secondment from Deutsche Bank, said: "Prof Barbier's report is the third in our ongoing stream of work to rethink economic models and target job growth in a world where leveraging 'Natural Capital' is both an increasing constraint and an untapped opportunity, and where failing to pursue sustainable development is no longer an option". He said the new report built on two earlier reports-- the Interim Report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity ( TEEB) published in May 2008 and an initiative of the G8+5 and the Green Jobs Report of September 2008. "Now 'A Global Green New Deal' brings this thinking to bear on the current economic crisis, with a focus and on the reflationary packages being planned to solve it. It shows how "green" components of stimulus packages together with appropriate policy changes may be used to restore job growth and achieve a more sustainable "green economy," he said. Sukhdev added that the new report demonstrated that " simultaneously targeting the triple goals of job creation, lower climate and ecological risk, and reduced poverty is not only possible but also desirable and timely." Today's 154 page Global Green New Deal report outlines a rich array of options and actions available to countries at different points in their economic and developmental paths some of which can be undertaken nationally and others cooperatively at the regional and global level. The report shows that some countries are at the national level already exceeding, meeting or factoring some proportion of the one per cent suggested target.

(Xinhua News Agency February 16, 2009)

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