February 21, 2013

Part 1: Demystifying the Green Economy

Setting the Context

Learning should be fun, no? Last year, in 2012, we came up with a series of short, snappy blog posts that aimed at demystifying the UNFCCC COP process, and they culminated in an easy and fun-to-read Pocketbook, aptly titled Peeling Back the COP. Youth volunteers have so far translated this pocketbook into ten languages from all over the world, with many more translations on the way. This project was so successful that the UNFCCC Secretariat has hosted it on their website as part of their climate change learning resources.

In light of this, we have decided to come up with a fun and easy-to-read guide to the Green Economy Report, the document that outlines the most viable way to achieving a global low-carbon, resource efficient economy. However, this guidebook, titled Demystifying the Green Economy, will be unique in that it will have a youth focus, showing how young people all over the world are leading the way towards the realization of a Green Economy.

Call for projects: If you are a youth with an innovative project on one or more of the following topics, kindly send an email to mbevakl@gmail.com and rbinmakomere@gmail.com so that it may be considered for featuring in this guidebook: agriculture, fisheries, water, forests, renewable energy, manufacturing, waste, buildings, transport, urban centers/cities projects and tourism.


There is no doubt that the famous Brundtland Report on Sustainable Development was the spark the lit the conversation on the need to achieve sustainable development, which had actually been simmering over the years. However, the publication of this report brought forth a sense of urgency in addressing environmental degradation and climate change. From then henceforth, the world has seen renewed efforts and discussions aimed at solving these challenges.

Paradigm Shifts

One of the major changes that started taking shape was a slow but albeit powerful paradigm shift in how we define development, and the need to place ecological limits that would ensure that future generations would have the opportunity to enjoy using the Earth’s resources, and to develop using them. The political landscape was also changing, with the famous Earth Summit of 1992 held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, being the hallmark of this paradigm shift.

Simple Premise; Complex Interpretation

The premise underpinning sustainable development is simple, yet very powerful. It calls on the current generation to use natural resources in such a manner as to make certain that future generations will also be able to benefit from the same resources: posterity. However, this issue interfaces with so many other critical issues, such as politics, governance, economic development and human rights, and realizing it has become quite a challenge. There being no universal blueprint for achieving a Green Economy, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) came up with a landmark initiative titled The Green Economy Initiative, and this was followed by the publication of the Green Economy Report.

Due to the complex nature of how things work, from the local, national and regional to the international level, there have been varying sentiments that have been expressed with regard to how to effectively transition to a global low-carbon, resource efficient economy.

The Spine: Definition of the Green Economy

All said and done, the working definition of the Green Economy, according to UNEP, lays down the most basic objective of the Green Economy:

…..one that 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

Storm Over Semantics

However, there have been  numerous and often conflicting perceptions, and even interpretations, of the Green Economy concept; more on this in the next instalment!

Compiled by: Kennedy Liti Mbeva 



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