Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spark innovation. Lead by action: UN Secretary General to the World Economic Forum (Davos)

The UN Secretary General has called on for a speedy return to sustainable development at the World Economic Forum - a meeting of the 'mighty and the powerful'. Calling sustainable development the growth agenda for the 21st century, Mr. Ban recited a litany of development errors based on a false belief in the infinite abundance of natural resources that fueled the economy in the last century.

He told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in a session devoted to redefining sustainable development that, “We are running out of time. Time to tackle climate change. Time to ensure sustainable, climate-resilient green growth. Time to generate a clean energy revolution.”

He emphasized that to secure sustainable development, we have to be prepared to make major changes – in our lifestyles, our economic models, our social organization, and our political life. We have to connect the dots between climate change and what I might call here, WEF – water, energy and food.” WEF is also the acronym for the Davos World Economic Forum.

“We need you to step up. Spark innovation. Lead by action. Invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy for those who need them most – your future customers. Expand clean energy access in developing countries – your markets of tomorrow.”


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Obama 's 'clean energy economy': who ought to benefit?

In this year's State of the Union address, delivered by US President Barack Obama, the core message was that The US will continue to pursue a green growth strategy, aimed at creating jobs and exports through clean tech innovation in areas like solar,biofuels, ”clean coal”, nuclear and high speed rail.

Despite tough opposition from the Republican side on energy and climate change related issues, the US President reiterated his wows create the ”clean energy economy” he campaigned for in 2008. More

According to Larry West, the Environmentalists will appreciate Obama's commitment to create a clean-energy economy and his pledge to enforce regulations that will ensure clean air and water, food safety and public health. On the other hand, they are sure to be disappointed by his insistence on continuing to include clean coal and nuclear power as part of America's clean-energy portfolio(nuclear power part of genuinely clean energy?)--as he did in his first State of the Union address in 2010.

From a Southern perspective, I think that more 'green spinoffs' from US innovation that Obama refers to in his speech needs to target the global South:

"...What we can do - what America does better than anyone - is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It's how we make a living..."

Since the market for the innovation has high opportunities in the(global) South, the US should provide deliberate response to global basic needs in affordable renewable energy, and technology transfer.

This will make the less fortunate 'clients' (people) the world over (based on the Millennium Development Goals bench marks and progress to date), a lot happier than they are today (moral and ethical obligations) - and hence increase their disposable incomes which is in the best interest of the US. For example in improved public health, sustainable agriculture and food security.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A common definition for 'Green economy'?

The UN Commission for Sustainable Development’s (UNCSD) first Intersessional Meeting which took place from 10 to 11 January at UN headquarters in New York, aimed to further clarify the relationship between the green economy, sustainable development, and poverty eradication

The Intersessional is the first in a series of three similar meetings scheduled in the lead-up to Rio+20, which will take place from 14-16 May 2012. It follows-up on progress made at the first Prepatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting in May 2010 and laid the foundation for establishing goals for the international community at PrepCom II, scheduled for 7-8 March 2011.

Parties quickly delved into issues and concerns related to the green economy, with some questions as rudimentary as establishing a definition of what the green economy actually is. Most countries reportedly agreed that it was unnecessary to create a definition of the concept before enabling themselves to move towards it.

One of the greatest concerns was rooted in the fear that the green economy could spawn “green protectionism” around the world and inhibit international trade and aid. Particularly, that it would be a means of imposing tariffs, non-tariff barriers and conditionalities.

The issue was of particular concern to smaller developing countries, which say their exporters may find themselves unable to comply with new green economy standards. The countries pushed for further discussion on how the green economy could be implemented without compromising energy and food security and economic growth.


Friday, January 21, 2011

My level of understanding of what 'Green economy' means

Preparatory work for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)as knows as Rio20, to be held in Rio de Janeiro - Brazil in May 2012 is well underway. This major UN Conference follows the 2002 Johannesburg Summit and the 1992 Earth Summit (Rio de Janeiro)

Rio20 seeks to secure renewed commitment for sustainable development, assess progress and implementation gaps in (previous Rio and Johannesburg) Summit outcomes on sustainable development, and to address new and emerging challenges.

This sounds like what the Johannesburg Summit also sought to achieve in 2002. What then is new about Rio20? My view is that the framework seems to be guided by the 2 themes namely:

- A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty
- Institutional framework for sustainable development

It is regard to this framework that I would like to contribute to the seemingly unclear common understanding of what 'green economy' means to different people in different parts of the world, and what its ultimately its implications are. In addition, there lacks a contextual understanding leave alone any substantive discussion on what 'green economy' would mean and entail in Uganda's case.

According to the Institute for Development Studies (2009), green economy is a type of low carbon development - actions which include making a contribution towards stabilizing levels of CO2 and other green gases at a level that will avoid dangerous climate change, through deep cuts in global emissions, demonstrate a high level of energy efficiency and use low-carbon energy sources As a type of low carbon development, 'green economy' focuses on the production side of an economy and on how goods and services can be produced with lower emissions. it aims at decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions (for example halving emissions, but doubling GDP). Hence the focus and approach of a 'green economy' is on mitigation, though adaptation also plays a role through technological and sectoral change.

In this blog I set to share with others what 'green economy' means from a Ugandan (civil Society) perspective ahead of Rio20 in 2012. This level of appreciation probably reflects the feeling for many people in Africa and the South in general.