As the Green Economies Dialogue (GED) project unfolded in 2011, media focused on green growth in the context of government intervention to jump start recovery from the economic crisis. Attention concentrated on desirable aspirational goals and opportunities to use green growth policies to create jobs and stimulate the faltering global economy. Only a limited academic, peer reviewed literature existed that addressed emerging policy proposals concerning green economy, green growth, and green jobs. Consequently, specific proposals and claims often lacked fundamental economic and environmental foundations and analyses. To help fill this gap the project cooperated with Energy Economics to invite respected scholars to contribute their peer-reviewed perspectives on green growth.
The ten papers now appearing in the special supplemental issue of Energy Economics, entitled Green Perspectives, span a wide range of topics. They bring insights from mainstream economic and environmental analysis to bear on the fresh questions that arise in the context of green economy. Authors’ discussions and insights are timely because green growth and green jobs proposals continue to figure in efforts to promote economic recovery and because green economy was a major focus for debate on international priorities and actions at the recent Rio + 20 Sustainable Development Conference in June 2012.
Overall, GED was designed to contribute to pro-active interactions and dialogue between business, academics and those, especially in government, charged with negotiating, designing and implementing green programs and agreements. GED’s goal is to promote more effective understanding, policy and action to spur greener economic and social development. Green Perspectives contributes by providing documented, peer-reviewed professional economic insights and analysis. Additionally, a number of authors participated in dialogue events.
In particular, in the lead up to Rio + 20, GED sought to explore international as well as domestic aspects. Clearly, many of the most pressing environmental challenges confront poor developing nations most strongly. Many of these developing nations are also among the most important emerging markets for business. Green Perspectives papers contribute to international considerations regarding the scale and pace of change required to achieve proposed global goals and associated impacts on technology, investment and implications for financial transfers. These have significant importance for business in the context of both opportunities and challenges in globalized markets and from interactions between domestic and international regulatory frameworks.
Going forward from Rio+20, the need to spur innovation and investment to meet the challenges of greener growth globally are clear. However policies to achieve that are proving to be complex and controversial. Consequently, as we found during Green Economy Dialogue events in Washington, Paris, Beijing and Brasilia, differences of view exist within society at large, within business and among nations about policies, timing and specific objectives. For example, creation and delivery of advanced technology and financial aid at the scale Rio+20 outcomes require raise serious financial and political issues, and differences exist over views on the motivation and ability of governments to create successful “industrial policy” to solve energy and environmental challenges. Moreover, some developing nations remain skeptical of green growth claims and intentions.
GED organizers anticipate that publication of Green Perspectives will help inform and stimulate productive discussion going forward on effective ways to promote economic growth while improving the environment and enhancing social development. While Green Perspectives provide author’s (not sponsor’s) views, they raise issues that require attention by everyone in the policy debate, especially business.
Individually and collectively these papers illuminate and underscore the enormous domestic and international political challenges. As well, they demonstrate the central role that business will need to play in the development, commercialization and global deployment of innovative, currently non-commercial technologies.
GED sponsors extend their thanks and gratitude to all those involved in producing the Green Perspectives special supplement to Energy Economics. We hope that these papers will serve as an important reference for scholars and others long after the recent Rio Conference. Moreover, we believe that they can help to inform the ongoing debate on effective ways to improve the environment while advancing social and economic development. We intend to benefit from their insights as we remain engaged in international discussions to identify and implement practical and pragmatic options that work for business, government and society as a whole.