04 Nov 2014 News Green economy

Green Economy and the Rights of Nature must be united to address urgent global challenges


Geneva, 11 November 2014 - Green Economy and ethical approaches to conservation are complementary, and both required to protect the planets wildlife, according to UNEP’s Steven Stone at the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals Conference in Ecuador.

The 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention of migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) was held in Ecuador 4-9 November, considering a record high number of species to be protected.

The Conference of the Parties was preceded by a High Level Panel on uniting the rights of nature and green economy, an exercise fundamental for addressing global issues in wildlife protection and sustainable development in general, according to Steven Stone from UNEP.

An important need to join forces
“An effective Green Economy approach will recognize that there is intrinsic value in nature, and when the right policies are in place, they will, in turn, help preserve the rights of nature.  Neither of these two approaches will be successful if they are seen as competing or contradictory – they must be perceived and used as concepts that support and reinforce each other” said Dr. Stone in his keynote speech to the panel. Dr. Stone is Head of UNEP’s Economics and Trade Branch, and with the backdrop of increasing global temperatures and dramatic decreases in biodiversity, he
used the occasion to reach out to proponents of rights based approaches to conservation:

“It is important that the strong voices calling out for Rights of Nature and those wishing to embrace and encourage sustainability with marked-based instruments join together.”

Complementary approaches towards a shared goal
While Green Economy and Rights of Nature approaches have been seen as competing concepts, the theoretical core and ultimate goal remain very similar, argued Dr. Stone.

“The concept of a green economy rests on challenging our most fundamental conception of how the economy is configured to deliver social equity and human wellbeing.  It goes to the very metrics we use to measure wealth and prosperity, moving beyond a narrow definition of GDP to track and define progress in the area of jobs, health, and social advancement.  And perhaps most fundamentally, it requires a closer look at the institutions, rules and governance that underpin economic transactions and market outcomes.”

“A wholistic Green Economy concept is one that recognizes the limits of economics in protecting the natural environment. It is one that recognizes the role of ethics and governance – precisely the arguments made by the Rights of Nature approach.”

UNEP and different approaches to sustainable development
In 2011, UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative published the Green Economy Report, which showed that the greening of the economy, rather than inhibiting growth, can be a new engine of development. Greening of economies was shown to be a net generator of decent jobs, and also a vital strategy for the elimination of persistent poverty, particularly as the poor and vulnerable are most effected by environmental change.

The Rio+20 outcome document, The Future We Want, acknowledged Green Economy as a tool for achieving sustainable development, and recognized that a variety of approaches are available to pursue a sustainability agenda.

In February 2013, the UNEP Governing Council further acknowledged the existence and importance of “different approaches, visions, models and tools developed by Member States of the United Nations in order to achieve sustainable development”, and requested that UNEP collect and share information about these multiple pathways with other countries, “so as to support them to promote sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

A variety of such approaches towards sustainable development exist, and have in some cases become an important framework for advancement of sustainability at the national level. The rich thinking around sustainable development includes the concepts of “Green Economy”, “Vivir Bien” and “Buen Vivir” in Bolivia and Ecuador, “Ecological Civilization” in China and the “Sufficiency Economy” in Thailand.

The High-Level Ministerial Panel in Ecuador consisted of a wide range of environmental leaders and experts including Lorena Tapia, Minister of Environment, Ecuador, Noel Nelson Messone, Minister of Water and Forests, Gabon and John Scanlon, CITES Secretary General. Read a summary of the panel discussion in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.