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DESA Guidebook Identifies Common Green Economy Principles

December 2012: The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has published a guidebook to the green economy, seeking to provide clarity on green economy principles proposed before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), and those in the Rio+20 Outcome Document.

The Guidebook illustrates the emerging understanding on the contribution of the green economy to integration among the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development, and notes a greater emphasis on the social dimensions.

The Guidebook identifies 11 common green economy principles, regarding the role of the green economy in: achieving sustainable development; protecting biodiversity and livelihoods; respecting planetary boundaries; enhancing energy and resource efficiency; contributing to poverty eradication; creating jobs; increasing equity; measuring progress beyond gross domestic product (GDP); promoting good governance through accountability, inclusivity and transparency; using integrated decision making; and internalizing externalities.

Seven of these principles focus on social aspects of sustainable development, six target environmental issues and four promote economic considerations. These principles were the most common among those proposed by groups including the Green Economy Coalition (GEC), the Stakeholder Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Northern Alliance for Sustainability, the Danish 92 Group and the UN Environmental Management Group (EMG), the publication notes.

The Guidebook also compares green economy principles with the Rio+20 outcome text on the green economy, noting that governments agreed that the concept should be implemented according to national circumstances and priorities. The Guidebook suggests areas where the green economy could deliver added value, including on respecting planetary boundaries, promoting energy and resource efficiency, supporting low-carbon, low emission growth and increasing resilience to risks and shocks.

This Guidebook is the second in a series. DESA's Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) began publishing a series of guidebooks on the green economy to enhance understanding of the green economy following Rio+20, in recognition of a lack of an internationally agreed definition or universal principles on the green economy. [DSD Press Release] [Publication: A Guidebook to the Green Economy: Issue 2: exploring green economy principles]