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How can we achieve the transition to green economy?

Stimulating green investments, thus applying green economy, requires different mixes of instruments. The choice of the instruments must be tailored to the individual characteristics of different economies and may depend, for example, on natural resource endowment, socioeconomic development, environmental conditions, state of health, strengths of institutions, etc. Furthermore, the choice must be tailored to national priorities and strategies and take into account various costs, risks, benefits and opportunities. There is therefore no one-size-fits-all solution that can be offered to the different economies.

What are the possible instruments to choose from?

The instruments to be applied for stimulating green investments range from market/economic through legal/regulatory to information-based/voluntary ones.

The market/economic instruments work by altering relative prices to influence production or consumption patterns.

The legal/regulatory instruments establish bans or limits, introduce product or process norms and standards to affect production and/or behaviour patterns.

The information-based/voluntary instruments introduce ratings, labels and voluntary certification to influence the consumption and behaviour patterns through which, in turn, the production patterns are affected.

UNECE offers various tools that help understand how to introduce the necessary legislation, norms, standards and incentives that can be essential for stimulating green investments. They can be linked, among others, with the following topics:

Topics/Instruments

Market/Economic

Legal/regulatory

Information-based/voluntary

Conditions for financing

x

Participatory and transparent governance

x

Classification of energy resources

x

x

Sustainable production and consumption

x

x

x

Sustainable transport

x

x

Environmental democracy

x

Best Available Techniques

x

Internalization of externalities

x

Strategic environmental assessment

x

x

Environmental impact assessment

x

Precautionary approach

x

Integrated water management

x

Payments for ecosystem services

x

Communication and information

x

Accounting

x

Standardization, certification, labels

x

x

Land rights

x

Education for sustainable development

x

 [click the topics to see UNECE tools on them]

Who is to make the transition to green economy?

The transition needs to be steered by the authorities at different levels whose functions are to choose from and then implement and evaluate the results achieved with the different instrument mixes. Nevertheless, transitioning to green economy requires initiatives and actions of different stakeholders, whether business, general public/consumers or others, like NGOs, academia, educators, etc. Among others, they can lobby with the authorities for implementing particular instruments or they can drive a change, especially through voluntary actions. 

UNECE offers tools directed to different stakeholders for driving the change to green economy, as follows:

 [click the stakeholders to see UNECE tools directed to them]

Where to green?

Greening an economy can be achieved by actions in its dominant economic sectors as well as in education and health. Depending on the specific economic, environmental and social performance of an economy, stimulative actions to enable transition may have a better cost-to-result ratio in some sectors rather than others. It is important therefore that greening starts in sectors where '"low hanging fruit" can be picked.

UNECE offers tools that help understand the greening of economies, among others, through actions in the following economic and social sectors:

Agriculture

Forest

Mining


Education

Health

Transport

Energy

Housing

Water

Finance

Industry

Cross-sectoral


 [click the sectors to see UNECE tools addressing them]

What else is crucial for achieving green economy?

As in every discipline, apart from good will and hard work, also competences, knowledge and skills, as well as a good understanding of values, are necessary to put the green economy concept into practice. UNECE offers tools providing excellent educational material on the green economy concept and related topics. Furthermore, UNECE offers tools showcasing training and skills development in a number of fields important to the green economy transition.

Educational material (meta-knowledge) on:

Vocational training/skill development on/for:

Financing

Participatory and transparent governance

Environmental democracy

Sustainable production and consumption

Sustainable transport

Green economy

Sustainable water management

Risk management

Standards, certification

Land rights

Public Private Partnerships

Financing

Environmental Impact Assessment

Strategic Environmental Assessment

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

Standards

[click the topics to see UNECE tools addressing them]

Monitoring and assessing application of green economy instruments is also necessary for achieving a green economy. Monitoring and assessment are crucial to oversee if the instruments applied bring the expected impacts. They further provide a basis for designing corrective actions, when required. An effective monitoring and assessment process requires that reliable time-series data are collected and that effective indicator sets, as well as measuring frameworks, are available, allowing for sound analysis in and across the environmental, social and economic dimensions.

UNECE offers tools that help understand how to monitor, measure and assess the transition to green economy. The UNECE tools showcase data collection, processing and dissemination in or across different sectors, as well as offer sets of indicators for measuring the progress achieved.

 


© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013