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Green Economy Principles

I am attending a very interesting Green Growth and Travelism Summer School organized by he Green Growth and Travelism Institute at Hasselt University in Belgium. A very interesting venue where a former prison has been converted into a prison.


I was looking back at a very good publication produced for the Rio+20 Conference on Green Economy Principles by Stakeholder Forum, the Earth Charter Initiative and Bioregional.

The fifteen principles had been identified representing a consolidation of existing international
agreements and more radical and forward-thinking proposals, cutting across The Stockholm Declaration, the Rio Declaration, The Johannesburg Declaration, The Earth Charter, The One Planet Living Principles, The Green Economy Coalition, the TUC ‘Just Transition’ principles, and The New Economics Foundation.

rereading the paper I think it is a useful contribution to the follow up to the outcomes from the Summits this year.

The document offers State and non-State actors an overview the kinds of principles that
might constitute that framework.

Principles for a Green Economy

Equitable distribution of wealth

Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations, to reduce disparities between rich and poor, and achieve social and economic justice, within a sustainable and fair share of the world’s resources and leaving sufficient space for wildlife
and wilderness.

Economic equity and fairness

Guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, create economic partnerships that would transfer substantial financial and technological assistance to less developed countries, to help minimize the gap between the developed and developing world and support the environmental sustainability of both.

Intergenerational Equity

Environmental resources and ecosystems must be carefully managed and safeguarded so as to enhance the value of environmental assets for future generations, thereby equitably meeting their needs and allowing them to flourish.

Precautionary Approach

Science should be utilized to enhance social and environmental outcomes, through the identification of environmental risk. Scientific uncertainty of environmental impacts shall not lead to avoidance of measures to prevent environmental degradation. The ‘burden of proof’ should lie with those claiming that there will not be significant environmental impacts

The Right to Development

Human development in harmony with the environment is fundamental to the achievement of sustainable development, so that individuals and societies are empowered to achieve positive social and environmental outcomes.

Internalization of Externalities

Building true social and environmental value should be the central goal of policy. To this end, market prices must reflect real social and environmental costs and benefits, so that that the polluter bears the cost of pollution. Tax regimes and regulatory frameworks should be used to ‘tilt the playing field’, making ‘good’ things cheap and ‘bad’ things very expensive.

International Cooperation

The application of environmental standards within nation States must be undertaken in a cooperative manner with the international community, based on an understanding of the possible impact on the development potential of other States. Environmental measures relating to trade should avoid unfair protectionism, but overall should ensure that trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection and progressive labor standards, promoting a ‘race to the top’ rather than the bottom.

International liability

Acknowledging that actions within national boundaries can cause environmental impacts beyond national jurisdictions, requiring cooperation in the development of international law that allows for independent judicial remedies in such cases.

Information, participation and accountability

All citizens should have access to information concerning the environment, as well as the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. To ensure that environmental issues are handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, institutions at all levels (national and international) must be democratic and accountable, and make use of tools that enable civil society to hold them to account. In this regard, the access to justice by citizens for redress and remedy in environmental matters is a cornerstone of enhancing accountability.

Sustainable Consumption and Production

Introduce sustainable production and consumption with sustainable and equitable resource use. Reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, i.e. reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used, acknowledge the scarcity of the Earth resources and implement activities accordingly.

Strategic, co-ordinated and integrated planning to deliver sustainable development, the green economy and poverty alleviation

An integrated approach must be adopted at all levels to expedite the achievement of socio-economic and environmental sustainability through strategic planning with civil society and stakeholders, and across all relevant government departments.

Just Transition

There will be costs in making the transition to a low carbon, green economy in the pursuit of sustainable development.

Some States and actors are better able to bear those costs than others and are more resilient to transitional changes. In the process of change, the most vulnerable must be supported and protected – developing countries must have access to appropriate financial and technical assistance, citizens and communities must also have access to new skills and jobs.

Redefine Well-being 

GDP is an inadequate tool for measuring social wellbeing and environmental integrity. Many socially and environmentally damaging activities enhance GDP – such as fossil fuel exploitation and financial speculation. Human wellbeing and quality of life, and environmental health should be the guiding objectives of economic development.

Gender Equality 

gender equality and equity are prerequisites to the transition to a green economy and the achievement of sustainable development. Women have a vital role to play as agents of change for environmental management and development – their actions must be rewarded accordingly and their skills enhanced.

Safeguard biodiversity and prevent pollution of any part of the environmen

Protect and restore biodiversity and natural habitats as integral to development and human wellbeing, and develop a system of governance that protects the resilience of ecosystems to prevent irreversible damage.

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