This year World Environment Day turns 40 and will focus on the theme Green Economy: Does it include you? CIWEM hopes that during this anniversary year politicians will realise that running economies in the way we’ve always done is clearly not working and will look at an alternative and far more sustainable economic model.
The UN Environment Programme defines the Green Economy as ‘one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.’ Practically speaking, a Green Economy is one whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. These investments need to be catalysed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes.
The low-carbon sector is a growing business. A new report released last month by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) revealed that in 2010/11 the global low-carbon and environmental goods and services (LCEGS) sector was estimated to be worth around £3.3 trillion, after growing around 3.7% from 2009/10. The report also noted that record growth over the last year has pushed the UK green goods and services market past the £122bn mark meaning it is currently 6th in the world in this sector and that the low carbon economy in the UK now employs almost one million people. CIWEM believes that it is possible to rejuvenate the UK economy whilst at the same time protecting and enhancing the environment. Moreover, the LCEGS could readily help lead an economic recovery.
CIWEM’s Executive Director, Nick Reeves, OBE, says: “Green industries are one of the few growth areas in the economy, but currently everything we do appears to be limited and constrained by the obsession with perpetual economic growth and the lack of genuine foresight and innovation in developing new economic models. We need to change thinking and prove we can tackle both the environment and the economy together.”
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, CIWEM, is an independent professional body and a registered charity, advancing the science and practice of water and environmental management for a clean, green and sustainable world. www.ciwem.org.
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