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 Friday, 16 December 2011
ITU joins the UN System to provide its perspectives on a Green Economy

Against a backdrop of the multiple crises of the past four years -- financial, economic, food and energy -- the United Nations launched this week a report that offers UN agencies and its member states guidance for coordinating the transition to a Green Economy at the international and country levels.  

In the first-ever inter-agency report on the Green Economy, the Environment Management Group (EMG), representing the work of UN agencies, the Bretton Woods Institutions and other intergovernmental bodies outlines steps and policies for pursuing a green economic transformation that generates new sources of sustainable and equitable economic growth that will assist in a global economic recovery.  

Such action will require investing in natural capital, clean-technologies, such as information and communication technologies (ICTs), as well as in in human and social capital, including education, health care, cultural development and social protection.    

The report, Working towards a Balanced and Inclusive Green Economy, reflects a growing recognition of the shortcomings of business-as-usual practiced by both the public and private sector institutions over the last two decades and assesses how the UN system can coherently support countries in transitioning to a Green Economy. The report highlights the need for more integrated approaches between different international agencies and government departments, as well as more targeted investments across the environmental, economic and social domains.  

Urging both agencies and governments to use the forthcoming 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (or Rio+20 Summit) to turn their commitments into reality, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said:   

“United Nations entities are keenly aware of the resource challenges that countries face in meeting the needs of a growing and urbanizing world population. The human and economic toll of natural disasters and the volatility of commodity prices reflect worrying trends in global climate change, the growing scarcity of some natural resources and the decline of many ecosystems.   

“This report highlights how these challenges can and must be addressed as part of integrated development models that focus on poverty and human well-being.”  

The report promotes a UN system-wide understanding of the Green Economy approach to achieve sustainable development and offers a range of instruments that governments can use to impact investment choices and consumer behavior.  These include mobilizing financial resources, full cost pricing, regulatory instruments, sustainable trade and green markets, innovation and technology, and indicators for measuring progress towards transition.    

The report calls specifically for public spending to target green infrastructure and research and development that can spur green technologies and innovation, as well as better health care and education. In addition, governments need to align their laws, regulations, green standards, taxes, labeling and reporting requirements to reinforce the incentives for the private sector to direct their finance and investments towards green, responsible business and a Green Economy.  

The report notes numerous UN-backed initiatives, including ITU’s activities to promote green ICT standards, the use of radio-communications for earth observation, or specific initiatives to develop innovative applications that promote the transition to a green economy, such as the ITU Green ICT Application Challenge. These contributions will be instrumental in the preparation of the Rio+20 conference.  

Click here to access the full version of the report free of charge. Find more about ITU’s activities on climate change and environment protection at  

Background information

Rio Earth Summit: In 1992 the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, popularly known as the Rio Earth Summit, was convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to address the state of the environment and sustainable development. In June 2012, there will be the follow up meeting or Rio+20 in Brazil, where one of the main themes governments are expected to address is Green Economy “in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”.  

The Environment Management Group (EMG) is a UN coordination body consisted of the specialized agencies, programmes and organs of the United Nations including the secretariats of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements. It furthers inter-agency cooperation in support of the implementation of the international environmental and human settlement agenda. ITU is an active member of the EMG.