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Green Economy

What is Green Economy?

logs, powerplant

Green economy, according to UNEP, is a system which results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. Other definitions have been proposed by various stakeholders, including some governments and coalition groups, but they generally represent the same core idea.

A green economy can be seen as a broad-ranging policy agenda that serves as a strategy for achieving sustainable development, with an emphasis on aligning economic with social and environmental policy. This agenda recognizes the potential of new environmentally sustainable technologies and green sectors to become the motor of a new economic development pathway. Thus, green economy promotes an economic transformation process, and this emphasis is also reflected in the development of indicators frameworks.

Circular and bioeconomy are two concepts related to green economy, which can be defined in the following way:

Circular economy is a long-standing concept with various origins and definitions. The concept focuses on the minimization of waste through resource-efficiency, reusing and recycling. At the core, it is the concept of closed-loop systems in which all raw materials are recaptured as a response to both growing resource scarcity and waste management challenges. In 2015, the European Commission adopted a “Circular Economy Package” as one its major policy initiatives. A circular economy can be seen as a more specific strategy for the transformation and development of industry and infrastructure to contribute to sustainable consumption and production (SCP). UNEP has recognized a circular economy as one of the key components of an inclusive green economy.

Bioeconomy also responds to concerns about growing scarcity of resources, but in this case, biological resources, such as those from agriculture, forestry and fisheries. This policy agenda emphasizes a transition towards an optimal and sustainable use of renewable biological resources, as materials and bio-energy. The European Commission adopted a Bioeconomy Strategy in 2012 which focuses on innovation and technology development. The pursuit of a sustainable bioeconomy can also be seen as contributing to SCP, and hence a green economy. Taking a simple perspective, bioeconomy can be seen as addressing the biomass-based sectors of a green economy, while circular economy is concerned with the more abiotic-based sectors of a green economy, such as industry and manufacturing.


How can the Forest Sector contribute to a Green Economy?

Sustainably managed forests play an essential role in the carbon cycle and provide essential environmental and social values and services, beyond their contribution as a source of wood, such as biodiversity conservation; protection against erosion; watershed protection and employment in often fragile rural areas. The forest sector has therefore a key role to play in the transition towards a greener and more sustainable economy and forestry lies at the heart of this “green” movement.

The forest sector contributes already largely to the Green Economy, but could play an even more significant role if governments and others seize the opportunity to use wood based products for green construction and furniture wherever possible and take measures to support the wider adoption of modern wood energy.

To promote those opportunities, the UNECE Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry (COFFI) and the FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC) decided to take action and prepared the Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy. The Action Plan was developed on the basis of an open consultation with member States and stakeholders and consolidated by the secretariat.

The Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy

In December 2013, at the joint session of the ECE Committee on Forests and Forest Industry and the FAO European Forestry Commission, member States adopted the Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy.

The Rovaniemi Action Plan proposes an overall vision, strategies and areas of activity to enhance the transition of the forest sector in the ECE region towards a green economy. It outlines concrete actions to support regional and national strategies that enhance the contribution of the forest sector to a green economy and describes how the forest sector in the UNECE region could lead the way towards the emerging green economy at the global level.

It identifies an overall vision, strategies and a number of areas of activity. For each area of activity, it proposes specific actions, and identifies potential actors, who might contribute to achieving the stated objectives. It is not a binding work plan, nor does it contain prescriptive recommendations to Governments, international organizations or stakeholders, who are free to participate, or not to participate, in the Action Plan as they wish.

Download the Rovaniemi Action Plan in English, French and Russian below:

- Rovaniemi Action Plan

- Plan d'action Rovaniemi

- Рованиемийский План действий

The Vision of the Rovaniemi Action Plan:

  • "In a green economy, the forest sector makes a maximum contribution to human well-being, through the supply of marketed and unmarketed forest goods and services, and the creation of revenue and livelihoods, while conserving forest biodiversity, and maintaining and developing forest ecosystem services on a sustainable basis, all within the context of a changing climate. A green economy opens up additional opportunities for growth and employment in the forest sector."
  • "In a green economy, the forest sector protects the welfare of all stakeholders, including forest dependent indigenous peoples, forest owners,forest industry and the forestry workforce, uses all resources wisely and economically, and contributes to the mitigation of climate change through both sequestration and substitution, while providing tools for climate change adaptation of societies.”
  • "In a green economy, forest sector governance systems take into full account all of the ecosystem services provided by the forest, compensating suppliers for providing them whenever feasible. Progress is monitored in a transparent way, and policies adjusted to reach the goals which will be agreed at the national, regional or local levels. The forest sector learns from other parts of the emerging green economy and shares its own experience with them, to mutual benefit."


Mid-Term review of the Rovaniemi Action Plan

The ECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section is currently undertaking the mid-term review of the Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy. The process started in March 2017 and is expected to be ongoing until summer 2018.

In this context, a webpage containing information about the mid-term review has been created and will be continuously updated on contributions provided by member States and other stakeholders, information on the status of the RAP implementation by the ECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section as well as an overview over the process of the mid-term review.

For more information, please visit the Mid-Term Review webpage here.