Green is not enough

By Yu Kun-ha
  • Published : Mar 25, 2012 - 18:43
  • Updated : Mar 25, 2012 - 18:43
Clean water is increasingly scarce. About a third of the world’s fisheries have collapsed and desertification now threatens the livelihoods of a third of the world’s people.

Parts of our planet are in peril. For a comprehensive solution, green is not enough.

To protect our home, we must empower people. The Arab Spring and the Occupy movement are clear calls for equality. We must heed them.

Only by working to ensure the next generation has jobs, basic services and opportunity, as well as a protected environment, can we ensure a truly sustainable future.

Rio+20 is an opportunity to address these issues holistically, as I tabled here in Seoul this week at the G20 Development Working Group, where “inclusive green growth” is high on the agenda.

By cutting its fossil fuel subsidies Nigeria took a positive step for the environment and the economy, but people still rioted in the streets. Social protection was a missing link.

The lesson was clear: only a robust and holistic approach that intertwines the three strands of development ― environmental, economic and social ― will bring about sustainable development.

So how do we do it?

For a start, we need more engagement to expand access to energy for poor communities, support clean and renewable energy development and improve energy efficiency. This will bring many benefits: it helps to keep children in school, makes it easier to access health services, frees women from the burden of time-consuming, backbreaking domestic chores and protects our climate.

We need a focus on governance, with investment in countries’ capacities, policies and institutions to better serve people, attract investment and drive low-emission development.

We must deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, while moving towards Sustainable Development Goals after 2015. The transition process must build on what worked with the MDGs and learn from what did not.

As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark has said “uppermost in our minds must be the importance of integrated decision-making.” We have to join the dots to get the future we want.

By Olav Kjorven

Olav Kjorven is the director of the Bureau of Development Policy and Assistant Administrator of the UNDP. Twitter: @olavkjorven @UNDP. ― Ed.