Key Issues on Green Economy at Rio+20 Identified from the Review of the Zero Draft and National Perspectives
Development of the discussion in the Rio+20 process including the Zero Draft and views and opinions expressed by the G20 countries have highlighted the key issues on green economy.
Principles of a Green Economy
The wide variety of views on green economies poses the great challenge of creating a single common definition. If we do not insist on a strict definition, we can establish an understanding that a green economy is a means to achieve sustainable development and that each nation can develop a green economy according to its development levels and priorities. Demonstrating differences in development levels, some countries argue that a green economy should be based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, whereas other countries highlight the roles of emerging economies. Because the conventional dichotomy between developed and developing countries may impede negotiations, a discussion framework should be formulated to break through this potential bottleneck situation. Plenty of countries call for prevention of green protectionism, but a common understanding of green protectionism may not necessarily exist among all countries due to insufficient discussion, e.g., of the definition of green protectionist policies. Accordingly, to prevent future conflicts between countries, these issues should be debated concretely at an early stage.
Policy Tools for Transition Towards Green Economies
The following four measures are discussed herein as policy tools for the transition toward green economies: a toolbox of good practices, green economy indicators, a green economy roadmap and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The expected positive effects on each country of a toolbox of good practices will lead to an agreement between the countries to create such a toolbox at Rio+20. However, the contents of the other three measures are considered ambiguous based on the diversity of current arguments. If the countries wish to launch processes for creating these tools at Rio+20, we should consider a discussion framework that will be useful at this stage, e.g., involving clarification of the relationship between green economy indicators and the green growth indicators developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), consideration of a discussion framework to create a roadmap with goals and indicators, and discussion of SDGs based upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A common understanding of the value of creating new policy tools and constructing efficient processes will be essential.
International Cooperation for Green Economies
International cooperation for green economies focuses on technology transfer, financial assistance and capacity building. Discussions of concrete mechanisms to promote them seem insufficient at present. It may be difficult to establish such new schemes at Rio+20, although it will provide a good opportunity to set up fundamental stages for discussion on concrete mechanisms. Newly proposed schemes will address several issues, e.g., the role and authority of centres of excellence for green technology, security of international equality for innovative financial mechanisms and compatibility of a capacity development scheme with the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs and prevention of new aid conditionalities.
A green economy is a stepping stone towards the long-term goal of sustainable development, and Rio+20 is a significant first step towards green economies. It will prove challenging to produce concrete solutions to all of the issues that are relevant to green economies, as indicated above. Thus, clarifying the future directions of the discussion and agreeing to begin important processes should be considered valuable progress. Originating from the global goal to create sustainable societies free from poverty, we should adopt a backcasting way of thinking, identifying important matters that need to be agreed upon at Rio+20 and then focusing on them. In doing so, I personally hope to revive the spirit of international solidarity for sustainable development fostered at the Earth Summit 20 years ago to generate meaningful outcomes on this valuable occasion.