Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

Advancing a Green Economy

Published on October 4, 2011

At a time when many national economies are in the red, let’s put our energy into building a green economy.

I recently facilitated a lively discussion among green economy experts. We talked about how public policy can advance a green economy agenda.

One realization in the discussion was that as social and environmental issues have more influence on corporate performance, chief financial officers will become more responsible for advancing corporate sustainability. When sustainability moves into the CFO office, governments are likely to pay more attention.

The group also identified procurement and investment as two powerful drivers of corporate sustainability. And they noted that these are areas where government can play a role. For instance, the Greater London Authority (GLA) group of public sector organisations is working to embed responsible procurement across its spend of more than £3.4bn a year on goods and services essential to London.

These green economy experts saw the need to account for the role ecosystem services play in the economy. (Ecosystems provide services from which humans benefit. They include supporting services such as pollination and photosynthesis; provisioning services such as fresh water; cultural services such as recreation; and regulating services such as carbon storage and climate regulation.) They also identified the need to create incentives for closed-loop production and consumption.

As well, the group identified a need common to both political leaders and sustainability practitioners. They both need a public that cares about sustainability. And, to get there, they both need to tie environmental outcomes to social well-being. For example, elected officials mostly hear from constituents about social or economic issues like jobs or worker compensation coverage. Few constituents raise environmental issues as their top concern.

So, as our industries move to more sustainable business models, we need to identify the accompanying opportunities for quality-of-life improvements such as family-supporting jobs, cleaner air and more dependable water resources.

Brazil Anyone?

The Rio + 20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development takes place in Brazil next June. One of the two themes focuses on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. That’s one to watch.

Let’s all help create the shift. Let’s get out of red and nurture the green.

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