Principles for a Green Economy

Though it is notoriously difficult to reach agreed definitions of a green economy, it may be easier to achieve consensus on the principles that should ideally underpin a green economy in any context. This involves more of a focus on desired outcomes that a green economy should be striving to achieve. This may include an agreement that any transition to a green economy should have the principle of equity at its heart. This could also include the recognition of the environment and ecosystems as ‘stakeholders’ in our economic system.

It may also be useful to establish principles that prevent the ‘race to the bottom’ of global capital – with multinational investment seeking areas with the least environmental protection and regulation in an effort to escape costs. Reaching consensus and encouraging standards on the internalisation of externalities represents one such principle that may be invoked to prevent this.

The Co-Chair’s Summary from PrepCom 1, the first Preparatory Meeting for the Summit in May 2010, recognised that the agreement of principles underpinning a green economy would be a welcome development:

71. Some suggested that UNCSD should aim to produce a set of principles to guide a green economy transition, a roadmap for that transition, and a well-stocked tool kit which countries at different levels of development and with differing national circumstances could use to guide them on a green economy, green growth path.

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