What exactly is the “green economy”? At the Earth Summit in Rio, it depends on who you talk to.
“As an Indian, as someone from the global South, the ‘green economy’ means a way to market Western technology to the developing world. It is something for people who already have things; it is not for me,” says Abhishek Thakore, 30, a nonprofit leader from Bombay, on Tuesday. “But as a youth, it is innovation, a reduction in consumption, necessary for survival. It is the way I want the world to be.”
The theme of the United Nations Rio + 20 Earth Summit, “The Green Economy,” provoked complicated debates among U.N. delegations, protestors and civil society. Although many of the policy proposals themselves were universally embraced—organic farming, intercropping, soil management, support for public transit—the phrase itself brings ominous overtones in the age of Occupy, and in a world with vast disparities of wealth and resources.
Earlier this year, the United Nations Environment Program outlined what it meant in its 626-page report “Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication,” including some familiar recommendations: