Initiatives for Green Economy, Evaluating Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and Decoupling Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from Economic Growth

K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines

In the last post on IPBES we discussed about the initiative to establish a global platform to link agriculture and environmental protection. There were several earlier global initiatives along this direction and one is the GEI (Green Economy Initiative). The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2008 developed the green economy concepts aimed at improving human well-being and social equity that will significantly reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities and will be low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. The main activities are:

1. Produce the Green Economy Report that will analyze the macroeconomic, sustainability, and poverty reduction implications of green investment in a range of sectors from renewable energy to sustainable agriculture and providing guidance on policies that can catalyze increased investment in these sectors.
2. Provide advisory services on ways to move towards a green economy in specific countries.
3. Engage a wide range of research, non-governmental organizations, businesses and UN partners in implementing the Green Economy Initiative.

The Green Economy can contribute to poverty alleviation, can create new jobs and new investment opportunities.

Related to the Green Economy Initiative is the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) study hosted by UNEP. At the meeting of the environment ministers of the G8 countries in Potsdam in March 2007, the German government proposed a study on ‘”The economic significance of the global loss of biological diversity” as part of the so-called “Potsdam Initiative” for biodiversity. The analyses indicate that maintaining healthy ecosystems is often the less expensive option and so TEEB suggests a shift in focus to discover and work with the range of ecosystem services.

Recently in February 2011, the Green Economy and Environmental Governance reform was backed by world’s environment ministers in Nairobi (click here for details).

UNEP on May 12, 2011 released the report entitled  ”Decoupling: natural resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth” urging for the “decoupling” of economic growth rates from rates of natural resource consumption and for humanity to “do more with less”.

The International development community is now preparing for the next Earth Summit, the Rio +20 in June 2012 in Brazil. This major sustainable development conference to mark the 20th year after the Rio summit will provide opportunities to accelerate and to scale-up a global transition to a low-carbon and resource-efficient Green Economy.  The vision for Rio+20  – System change for green economy and poverty reduction was presented at the UN Headquarters in New York on May 6 2011.


IPBES – Inter Governmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services to be Established

K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines

Threats to biodiversity loss and deterioration of ecosystem services are becoming apparent in many parts of the world. The recent publication by the United Nations Environment program (UNEP), the Third Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (GBO-3) warned that biodiversity losses are in an increasing trend.  Most of the goals for MDG 7 on environmental sustainability will not be met, unless radical and creative actions are taken. Some essential ecosystem services will approach “tipping points”. The Millennium Assessment (MA) identified key concerns and issues and the follow meeting particularly the 3rd Ad Hoc meeting in Busan, Korea also known as the Busan Outcome recommended that the IPBES should be established to address the issues.  For more information on IPBES click here. The IPBES proposal was further endorsed in Nagoya. The international workshop, Leipsig Nested Network Workshop 11 – 13 May 2011, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), met to discuss and develop the purpose, structure and work packages of the IPBES.

Participants in the Leipsig Nested Network Workshop 11-13 May 2011

Among the concerns raised in the meeting was the inadequate participation from developing countries in such inter-governmental panel. Although IPBES will take a form that is rather similar to IPCC, it will provide provisions to be inclusive and encourage participation from developing countries.  The “P” in IPBES was changed to “Platform” representing its role as an open discussion facilitator rather than an instructional panel.  This will also be a potential platform for integration of ecological concepts into agriculture to develop eco agricultural practices for sustainable development.