The Nordic Council of Ministers has launched this blog as a contribution to the dialogue around Rio+20 and the whole discussion about The Future We Want. Without dialogue there will be no global solutions and without global solutions there will be no future. We hope the Rio+20 Conference will bring us closer to a more sustainable future.
NEW YORK – As we edge closer to Rio+20, the topic on everyone’s minds is the green economy. What does a green economy look like? How can we have a green economy when the regular economy has not yet fully recovered?
In Denmark, we’ve recently got new mailboxes. Well, the metal kind of boxes that sits on a pole by the house. New regulation has forced us all to move the mailbox to the garden gate, which makes it possible for the mailman to deliver the mail without having to pass locked gates or fight dogs. To me that sounds reasonable and I wonder why this rule has not been introduced ages ago. But something else makes me wonder too: What do we actually use our mailbox (the metal one by the gate) for?
We often worry about human population growth and its effect on the planet. But a much more potent population bomb is represented by our farm animals whose numbers have grown almost twice as fast as those of people, due to our ravenous appetites for meat and milk. While the number of people doubled during the last half century, the number of farm animals grew 3.6 times, and the number of slaughtered animals even multiplied by the factor of 7.1.
A new mindset is emerging among major businesses. Whether they call it green growth, conscious capitalism or shared value, more and more companies around the world are trying to define new and more sustainable ways of creating the growth we need in Europe – and in the rest of the world. They have realised that it is no longer possible to continue as before", writes EU Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard.
Bornholm was the first island to take on the strategy »Bright Green Island«. Now there are five islands aiming to be bright and green, targeting to become sustainable societies and develop new answers to the global challenge.
In a few weeks time world leaders will gather together for the Rio+20 Conference to discuss how to build a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. With the current economic crisis, this theme is a highly pertinent issue for both developed and developing countries.
Food security will be a major challenge for the world in the next decade. Some estimates for the world population challenge the world food supply with 2.5 billion new consumers in the next 40 years. My argument is that it is not enough to produce more food, it is essential that we have the right food.
Growth. Even before the concept is defined, we know what’s on the agenda. It’s not about plant growth, hair growth or growth in quality of life, it’s about economic growth. And the kind that is measured in GDP. However, Rio+20 might mark a paradigm shift in the way we measure growth and wealth.
Once upon a time, on a faraway planet, a group of highly sophisticated beings were faced with a crisis. They had made great progress indeed, but it had come at a cost: profound changes to the planet’s natural cycles. Now their atmosphere was warming, their oceans acidifying and their food security was severely threatened. An emergency meeting was called to discuss possible solutions.
The Nordic model – Nordic capitalism that I prefer to call it – has proved that high living standards and well-being can be combined with clever and responsible environmental and resource policies. I am proud of this, but still, a lot more needs to be done.
Here in Rio, in the physical heat as well as the heat of last-minute negotiations, it is hard to imagine the areas of ice and snow that make up the “cryosphere.” Yet when it comes to the challenge of sustainable development, few communities face greater challenges than the peoples living in alpine and polar areas such as the Himalayas, the Arctic, and Andes.
There are very few places in the world where the indigenous peoples can control their own lives. It is therefore important that the measures agreed upon by the world's nations at RIO+20 respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Most people are prepared to express their support for the green economy. Some would also see the green economy as a vehicle for achieving other social and economic targets. At the same time, one cannot note any strong expansion of the green economy, at least not globally. Why such a discrepancy, and what could be done to reduce it? This is a wide subject, and I will only discuss some economic and financial aspects.
The Rio+20 summit will accentuate the management crisis that characterizes international environmental corporation. Politicians probably won’t agree on anything substantial. Instead, new networks – spearheaded by companies, NGOs and cities – will set the agenda for the future.