UNU-IAS held the International Symposium on Green Growth and Global Environmental Change on 25–26 July 2014 in Tokyo. The event brought together researchers and policy practitioners to scrutinize the promises and pitfalls of green growth; an idea that has acquired considerable traction in national and international environmental policy deliberations after the Rio +20 conference.
The symposium provided a novel and valuable opportunity for participants to critically assess green growth and to consider creative responses to its contradictions. Authors from 17 countries and various international organizations (UNU, UNCTAD, UNESCO, ILO, UNICITRAL and the Global Green Growth Institute) presented a total of 30 papers testing the claims of green growth, debating its ideological underpinnings and their implications as a response to modernity’s environmental crisis and exploring alternatives. The papers included case studies from Brazil, the European Union, India and the Republic of Korea, as well as a global survey of climate change mitigation measures.
The central idea of green growth is that technological innovation, together with market allocation of resources and some state regulation, can mitigate the ecological and social impacts of open-ended economic growth and its use of energy and resources. Based on the empirical evidence presented, the symposium took the view that such “ecological modernization” strategies, whilst important and necessary, are also insufficient to adequately contain the impacts of energy and material use arising from open-ended economic expansion.
The symposium built on previous UNU research related to green growth, including the book Green Economy and Good Governance for Sustainable Development (UNU Press, 2012).
This symposium was supported by a grant from the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) under its CAPaBLE Programme, a small grant from the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, and a fellowship from the British Academy.