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06 March 2014

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Fundamental Shift in Investment Needed to Green Jobs, Industry and Trade Dubai 

Countries that have begun to embrace a green economy approach say that they realize a fundamental change in national planning and investment is required to reach their sustainable development and poverty eradication ambitions.

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More than 450 participants from 66 countries – including 27 ministers – presented their national perspectives at the first global conference on the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), an initiative led by the United Nations to support countries making the transition to an inclusive, low-carbon and resource-efficient economy.

Video: Achim Steiner’s speech at the conference. 

Earlier at the conference, it was confirmed that donors had provided more than US $11 million to support country-level action under PAGE, and three new countries – Burkina Faso, Mauritius and Senegal – would join Mongolia and Peru to benefit from the initiative. 

The Minister of Environment and Water of the United Arab Emirates, Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, who hosted the two-day event from 4-5 March 2014, on behalf of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, noted the enormous challenges and benefits for countries embarking on this pathway. 

Highlighting the sense of urgency expressed by delegates, the Minister said:

“Fundamental changes in terms of attitudes, behaviors and partnerships are required. Business as usual is not an option. While each country must forge its own green economy pathway, based on its own national priorities and natural assets, sharing these different approaches will help to distill the lessons and good practices, and encourage other countries to embark on this journey.” 

Speaking on behalf of the founding PAGE partners – ILO, UNEP, UNIDO and UNITAR, Peter Poschen, Director of the Enterprises Department at the ILO, said:

“The inaugural PAGE Conference is proof that countries are seeing the value of adopting green economy pathways as part of their development strategies, as well as the benefits of working in partnership. The private sector needs to be on board to green businesses, make industry resource efficient and seize opportunities for sustainable trade. One of the key benefits of shifting to a green economy is that can create more and better jobs. However, the transition can only occur if it is underpinned by comprehensive changes in government plans and policies, including fiscal policy reforms that improve human well-being as well as the environment..” 

More specifically when promoting green jobs, Mr Poschen added:

“There is a tendency to overlook the opportunity of upgrading existing jobs. The quality is critical for green jobs. Only decent jobs can both green the economy and advance social development. Green economy strategies should be grounded in the concern for more social inclusion, especially for youth, but also women who are increasingly becoming both agents for change and beneficiaries of the transformation.“ 

The PAGE initiative was launched last year after the Rio+20 global summit on sustainable development called on the United Nations to support countries in their transition to greener and inclusive economies. The initiative is supported by the Friends of PAGE, a group of countries committed to supporting nations seeking assistance to transform their economies. 

The Chair’s Summary of the PAGE Conference states:

“PAGE has been tasked to become the major vehicle to facilitate this change and keep countries connected through continued knowledge sharing and mutual support. This conference has marked the beginning of building the green economy bridge between countries and the international community. Through this conference and your many enriching contributions and suggestions, PAGE is now much better equipped to accompany the countries taking up green economy strategies.” 

Some of the other key issues and recommendations identified included: Green industrial policies need to address both the greening of industries and the creation of new green manufacturing and services, and be part of an overall national strategy promoting a transition to a green economy. 

On trade, evidence was presented that shows greener trade creates decent jobs and resource efficient production methods, increasing competitiveness and creating new trade opportunities, which enhance social development. While the use of certification, sustainability standards and green innovation are all contributing to building a business case for a green economy, participants emphasized that governments transitioning to a green economy needed to consider the impacts of trade has on the country’s natural resources. 

How to measure a green economy was the focus of another breakout session, and a new working paper published by UNEP, Using Green Economy Indicators for Policymaking, was highlighted. 

On finance and fiscal policy, participants noted that some critical success factors for governments to promote green private sector investments include establishing clear rules that demonstrate a long-term vision and political commitment, as well as reduce uncertainties and risks for green private sector investments. For example, South Africa is one of the countries that is identifying incentives for investors.

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