Planet under Pressure produces a policy brief on Green Economy to inform Rio+20

Planet under Pressure ( a major international conference focusing on solutions to the global sustainability challenge has recently taken place in London (March 26-29). I have followed it on-line and found the plenary sessions extremely interesting. The conference must have been really extraordinary. While I would recommend to those interested in global sustainability to browse the website (I’m sure some might have already), having just finished my first year of teaching in Green Economy, I would like to say a few words on the policy brief on Green Economy.

The policy brief is downloadable from the website and while I would encourage everybody to read it, I have found these points particularly interesting:

1. A simple answer to why the green economy is important is that ‘the well-being of a nation is irrelevant if Earth’s environment is degraded to the point where human existence is threatened’.

2. However, continuing to use the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita to measure progress will lead the green economy path to fail.

3. Therefore, we should evaluate the country progress using a new set of measures which take into account the natural, social, human and produced capitals, and not just economic performance.

4. We should conduct in depth studies on the extent to which we are depleting the Earth’s natural capital before we transgress planetary boundaries of no return.

I will be happy to hear your favourite points for this policy brief. Feel free to email me.

Elena Cantarello

One Response to “Planet under Pressure produces a policy brief on Green Economy to inform Rio+20”

  1. Elena Cantarello

    I’m replying to Ivis Chan (IC). Thought this might interest a wider range of people.
    IC: We would probably see a very interesting pattern if such measures were used, where countries with lots of natural capital and low population would score high and countries like the UK would probably be
    at the bottom….?? I wonder what the south position is on such measures and whether there are any examples of developing countries applying such measures….do you know?
    EC: One study I’m aware of is The Inclusive Wealth Report (IWR), a joint initiative of UNEP and UNU -IHDP, (, which employs a promising replacement for GDP. The Report is planned to be launched at Rio+20 and I’m really looking forward to reading it. The Report has a particular focus on developing countries.
    IC: Also, what would it take for lenders (e.g. IMF, WBank) to take such evaluations seriously?? how would it change the current framework of aid and lending??
    EC: The way I see it is that you would map the change in the natural, social, human, and produced capital (similar to the studies we have done on ecosystem services). The trend should show that some developing countries (let’s say Brazil) are not progressing as fast as the GDP states. The increase in GDP might be offset by a drastic decrease in natural capital. So, this should clearly show to lenders and policymakers where investments should be directed to maintain a solid economy.