UNEP report maps the pathways to a green economy
The urgency of this debate is becoming ever more apparent. Across the world, systemic crises threaten in areas such as finance, climate change, energy, biodiversity, ecosystems and demography. And the scale, speed and interconnectedness of global economic, social and environmental changes are creating unprecedented challenges.
In stressing the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the shift to a global green economy, the UNEP report echoes some of the key findings of the EEA's flagship report The European Environment: State and Outlook 2010 (SOER 2010), published in November 2010.
SOER 2010 highlights the twin challenges of maintaining the structure and functions of ecosystems (ecosystem resilience) and finding ways to cut resource use in production and consumption activities and their environmental impacts (resource efficiency). It also underlines that a successful transition in Europe requires that rich and poor alike have equal access to the benefits of a green economy. Greening Europe's economy is essential for building a sustainable future globally and meeting the Millennium Development Goals and the aims of the Rio+20 agenda.
But what would such a transition involve in Europe? In several respects the region looks comparatively well positioned. It is the world's largest economic bloc, with considerable innovation skills. It maintains a social-welfare model that emphasises equitable distribution of benefits across society. It has arguably the strongest package of environmental policies globally and a record of successful integration with economic sectors using market instruments and other tools. Moreover, the EU has a long tradition of managing socioeconomic transitions from its inception in the 1950s through to recent enlargements of the EU to the East.
At the same time, Europe's reliance on natural resources from the rest of the world makes it vulnerable to external shocks. Demographic projections over coming decades indicate that more of the population will rely on a shrinking workforce for their incomes. Indeed, as EEA analysis demonstrates, a variety of global megatrends are currently unfolding, presenting many challenges for Europe as well as potential opportunities.
The EEA is going to be working hard on building up the knowledge base on the green economy for Europe in the next couple of years. The results of those activities will be made available on the EEA website on a regular basis in the form of technical studies and more accessible analysis and comment.