Quantcast

World Environment Day: Spreading the Word for a Green Economy

Energy

EarthShare

2012 is a big year for the United Nations’ environmental initiatives. Not only is it the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which set up the Convention on Biological Diversity and led to the Kyoto Protocol, among other things. It’s also the 40th anniversary of World Environment Day and the founding of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP).

As leaders return to Rio de Janeiro this month for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (aka, RIO+20), the imperative to protect the planet has never been more critical: climate change, unprecedented biodiversity loss and widespread hunger are growing in severity.

We at EarthShare love the theme of World Environment Day this year: “A Green Economy," because it’s a philosophy we embody in our own work building bridges of support between U.S. companies and more than 400 of the best environmental charities.

Especially during a recession, many leaders like to emphasize a false choice between “the economy” and “the environment." TriplePundit, a popular corporate social responsibility blog, suggests that this so-called conflict would be better construed as “short-term jobs” vs. “long-term jobs” because many business practices are economically (not to mention environmentally) unsustainable in the long-term, even if they provide a brief boon to the economy.

So what does a “green economy” look like?

For one, it’s a system where “waste” doesn’t exist and where ecosystem services are valued rather than degraded. This idea is exemplified in the book Cradle-to-Cradle and in the idea of a “circular economy” touted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Hewlett Packard, for example, has customers return used printer cartridges to their factories so that they can be used again and again.

Secondly, it’s a system where jobs are long-lasting and create value and well-being for the workers and community. UNEP reports that processing recyclable materials sustains 10 times more jobs than landfill or incineration (per ton). The Natural Resources Defense Council says that solar energy installations create 7 times more jobs than coal or natural gas. Sustainable agriculture requires more employment than conventional agriculture and doesn’t poison people with harmful pesticides.

Perhaps one day, we won’t need to use the word “green” to describe our ideal economy because it will be self-evident that we can’t squander the natural resources that keep us and our global neighbors alive.

You can be a part of the green economy this World Environment Day too—read our tips on how to find a green job, or learn how you can jumpstart a sustainable future at your workplace.

Visit EcoWatch's RENEWABLES and SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE pages for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

New pine trees grow from the forest floor along the North Fork of the Flathead River on the western boundary of Glacier National Park on Sept. 16, 2019 near West Glacier, Montana. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Alex Kirby

New forests are an apparently promising way to tackle global heating: the trees absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from human activities. But there's a snag, because permanently lower river flows can be an unintended consequence.

Read More
Household actions lead to changes in collective behavior and are an essential part of social movements. Pixabay / Pexels

By Greg McDermid, Joule A Bergerson, Sheri Madigan

Hidden among all of the troubling environmental headlines from 2019 — and let's face it, there were plenty — was one encouraging sign: the world is waking up to the reality of climate change.

So now what?

Read More
Sponsored
Logging state in the U.S. is seen representing some of the consequences humans will face in the absence of concrete action to stop deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis. Mark Newman / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

Talk is cheap, says the acting executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, who begged governments around the world to make sure that 2020 is not another year of conferences and empty promises, but instead is the year to take decisive action to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and the destruction of habitat-sustaining ecosystems, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The people of Kiribati have been under pressure to relocate due to sea level rise. A young woman wades through the salty sea water that flooded her way home on Sept. 29, 2015. Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

Refugees fleeing the impending effects of the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, according to a new decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as CNN reported. The new decision could open up a massive wave of legal claims by displaced people around the world.

Read More
The first day of the Strike WEF march on Davos on Jan. 18, 2020 near Davos, Switzerland. The activists want climate justice and think the WEF is for the world's richest and political elite only. Kristian Buus / In Pictures via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is returning to the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum with a strong and clear message: put an end to the fossil fuel "madness."

Read More