Green is good – but is it good enough?

Build on the Nordic Model to create a social consensus for a
greener economy and green, inclusive growth, says Norwegian Minister for the
Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim. New global survey puts
the Nordic countries on top in clean tech innovation, partly also the result of
being consensus based societies, according to the minister.

Green growth is the mantra of world leaders these days. And
green economy is all the rage in the lead up to Rio+20 this summer. But the
social aspects of the new green economy must not be neglected.

That was one of the conclusions at a conference in Oslo on
March 1 held by the Norwegian chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

– Green, inclusive growth is the answer to our common
challenges, it is not just an elite enterprise. We need growth to provide
development for the poor, but it must be socially inclusive and we must grow in
a sustainable way. Here the Nordic countries have helped show the way, with our
decoupling of growth and emissions, said Norwegian Minister for the Environment
and International Development, Erik Solheim in his opening speech.

– We can build on the strengths of the Nordic Model, with
its emphasis of finding shared compromises for a fairer society involving all
sectors and interests in society in the process, he added.

A new global survey 
also shows that several of the Nordic countries are leading when it
comes to clean tech innovation. Denmark, Israel, Sweden and Finland provide the
best conditions today for clean tech start-up creation, with companies in the
Asian Pacific region following closely behind.

According to Solheim, this is partly a by-product of the
Nordic consensus based model, where people are open to innovation and accept
social change more easily.

Ecosystems and

The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB) were
also discussed at the conference with a view to the social consequences.

– We must assess the value nature brings to our economies
simply to be able to include this aspect in rational long term planning and be
able to preserve resources for the future, says Marianne Kettunen from the
Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), representing the TEEB

– But we must not tax the basis of the livelihood of the
poorest people on the planet, she added, stressing that when payment for
ecosystem services comes into place it should take into consideration the fact
that the global poor are often the ones, who depend most on the basic services
nature has to offer.

The conference looked at a tool box of taxes, regulations,
ecosystem based management, green public procurement, research and innovation.

Participants agreed that from a Nordic perspective, these
measures can contribute to gradual changes in a more sustainable direction and
at the same time contribute to improve public finances, better efficiency of
the economy, green jobs and a better quality of life.

The Nordic Council of Ministers will participate at Rio+20
with activities presenting this outlook, that can be summed up in what may be
termed the Nordic Way towards a more sustainable society.

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