On 25–26 July 2014, UNU-IAS will organize an international symposium on Green Growth and Global Environmental Change: Political Ideology, Political Economy and Policy Alternative at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo. The symposium will feature talks by leading and early career scholars and practitioners in the field. The symposium will discuss the ideological commitments rationalizing green growth, consider the evidence in terms of the resulting political economy and social and ecological performance, and conclude by training analytical focus on emergent ideological and policy innovations offering alternatives to green growth.
The Rio+20 process posits a green economy, realized through green growth, as one of the foundations of the “future we want.” Green growth boasts of a world of scientific insight, engineering sophistication and managerial smartness that purports to redress the accumulated harms and impending consequences of “old” industrialization. It encompasses strategies ranging from geo-engineering to myriad modest proposals that, collectively, may be referred to as an “efficiency strategies.” Through such instrumentalities, green growth promises to stem the environmental crisis and mitigate its consequences while addressing persistent challenges to the emancipation of human beings from destitution and disempowerment.
This foundational emphasis on continued growth, as a prerequisite to politically acceptable options, is situated within an acknowledgement of ecological limits, with the assertion the green economy seeks to ensure that ecological limits are not crossed. Such assertions notwithstanding, the fact is that ecological limits have already been breached. Humanity’s ecological footprint exceeds the earth’s biocapacity and uses up stocks and sinks faster than they are replenished. In response, green growth advocates assert a strategy of more growth based on greater efficiency and technological innovation. While greater efficiency is on balance preferable to its opposite, the accumulated evidence suggests that greater efficiency (technical and economic) in the throughput of matter and energy is a necessary but insufficient condition for guiding energy and resource use policies in the present context.
Against such evidence, this symposium critically investigates the ideological commitments that rationalize the pursuit of green growth, reviews the accumulated evidence of its performance and analyses emergent alternatives for advancing the imperatives of greater fairness on a shared and finite planet.
Participation in this symposium is by invitation only. A summary of the discussion and conclusions will be made available on the UNU-IAS website shortly after the event.
This symposium is generously supported by a grant from the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research under their CAPaBLE Programme, a small grant from the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation and a fellowship from the British Academy.
Manu V. Mathai, Research Fellow, UNU-IAS, Tokyo
Jose A. Puppim de Oliveira, Senior Research Fellow, UNU-IAS, Tokyo
Gareth Dale, Senior Lecturer, Brunel University, London
Please address any queries regarding this event to Ms. Fueta Natsuko (email@example.com).
Elizabeth Rose Hall (5F)
United Nations University
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