Preparing for RIO+20: IISD Makes Recommendations on Moving Towards a Green Economy

Jun 6, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Peter Wooders, European Parliament, Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), 2011.

Video (11:32), copyright: European Parliament, Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)

The European Parliament convened a high-level panel for its first public hearing to prepare for Rio+20 in 2012. The first part featured Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Karl Falkenberg, Director-General for Environment of the European Commission, presenting their views on how society could move “Towards a Green Economy.” In his presentation, IISD’s Senior Economist Peter Wooders detailed how Rio+20 could most usefully focus on a few high-impact initiatives that governments could implement in the short term without international agreement and for their own benefit. Peter noted that business as usual was a choice—and it is one that comes with costs and locks us into unsustainable systems and practices. IISD’s recommendations were:

  • at Rio+20, countries should pledge to remove all energy subsidies unless these can be shown to lead to sustainable development, and also pledge to help other countries reform theirs;
  • similarly, sustainable public procurement (SPP) and public–private partnerships offer an ideal opportunity for governments to mould expenditure, standards and practices. Let us again make agreements at Rio+20, with quantitative targets;
  • the clean energy debate is in danger of being taken over by market share discussions as seen in the WTO disputes raised by Japan against Ontario, and the U.S. against China. More renewables must be part of a green economy, and if local content provisions—which are widely used in sectors such as oil and gas and in SPP—are needed to get political acceptance, then should we be looking at an international agreement beyond the narrow confines of the WTO?
  • let’s work through the debate on energy-intensive industries. How can national, regional and international collaboration best be employed to support the essential development and implementation of breakthrough technologies and CCS? Are policies and measures optimized across the whole life cycle? Where might an international forum to discuss competitiveness issues best be located?
  • the EU can lead. If we are truly convinced that greening the economy is the only way forward—and IISD is—then let us have the courage of our convictions.

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development 

The world is challenged by a changing climate, biodiversity loss, abject poverty and environmental degradation. What can make a difference? Good ideas. Creativity. Passion. Innovation. The achievement of change. 

IISD is in the business of promoting change towards sustainable development. As a policy research institute dedicated to effective communication of our findings, we engage decision-makers in government, business, NGOs and other sectors in the development and implementation of policies that are simultaneously beneficial to the global economy, the global environment and to social well-being. 

In the pursuit of sustainable development, we promote open and effective international negotiation processes. And we believe fervently in the importance of building our own institutional capacity while helping our partner organizations in the developing world to excel. 

Established in 1990, IISD is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization with a diverse team of more than 150 people located in more than 30 countries. Through our dynamic portfolio of projects, we partner with more than 200 organizations throughout the world. To learn more about our history, please visit the IISD Timeline. 

Click here to learn more about our project work and programs, which are guided by our strategic institutional directions. And please visit our IISD Linkages site to follow our coverage of international negotiations on environment and development. 

IISD is registered as a charitable organization in Canada and has 501(c)(3) status in the United States. IISD receives core operating support from the Government of Canada, provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Environment Canada, and from the Province of Manitoba. The Institute receives project funding from numerous governments inside and outside Canada, United Nations agencies, foundations and the private sector.

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