UNEP lauds China efforts toward Green Economy

08:17, June 22, 2011      

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The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) on Tuesday praised China for spearheading efforts toward making a transition to efficient green economy.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said there is a fundamental transformation on issues of environmental sustainability in China as the world prepares for next year's Rio + 20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Brazil, 20 years after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992.

"On the occasion of the visit of Bright Moon-Africa delegation, we are also looking at the question of Rio + 20..next year where the UN will convene again a conference on sustainable development in Rio in Brazil and if you look at issues of environmental sustainability in China then and today, you see a fundamental transformation," Steiner told Xinhua in an interview in Nairobi.

Steiner also praised China's commitment in the fight against climate change besides being one of the countries which have started addressing environmental challenges of industrialization, land degradation and pollution in a way that is exceptional.

"China has become a highly dynamic economic power domestically. Internationally speaking it's a only nation that has become to address environmental challenges of industrialization, of land degradation, of pollution in a way that is unprecedented, " he said on the sidelines of the Second Bright Moon-Africa Conference in Nairobi, which was sponsored by UNEP and the African Regional Bureau of Xinhua News Agency.

He lauded strides that have been made by China in the last 20 years for increasing its net forest cover as opposed to many developed nations who are facing a net decrease in their forest cover.

Steiner said investment in clean technologies could reduce the world population's ecological footprint by nearly 50 percent by 2050 and save an average of 760 billion U.S. dollars a year between 2010 and 2050 on capital and fuel costs.

He said the green economy offers a focused and pragmatic assessment of how countries, communities and corporations have begun to make a transition towards a more sustainable pattern of consumption and production. The UNEP chief said governments around the world need to prioritize spending and procurement in green economic sectors and limit activities in areas that deplete natural resources.

He said China's great contribution toward the green economy is a big message to Rio+ 20 where world leaders and environmental experts are expected to reach an agreement on efforts toward the green economy. "As China looks to the future of its economic development, the transition towards the green economy and the aspirations towards ecological civilization have become a powerful idea that has gone throughout China."

"And I think it's also influencing the rest of the world increasingly and that is the sign of hope and also one reason why we in the United Nations are working with China," he said. Steiner said governments should move rapidly towards a green economy and low carbon projects as part of efforts to revive the world economy from its current slowdown and create millions of jobs. He said the Asian nation is facing similar environmental challenges that are similar to any developing nations such as poverty eradication, industrialization and growth of the economy.

"I think transition into the green economy to bring a true cost of maintaining environmental assets into the modern economy is that China is working in the frontier with many other countries today," Steiner said The UNEP chief said investing stimulus funds in energy efficient technologies, renewable energy, public transport, and the sustainable management of natural resources could help create millions of jobs.

He said investing the funds in those sectors reflects the conviction that a green economy can create dynamic new industries, quality jobs and income growth while mitigating and adapting to climate change and arresting biodiversity decline.

The Green Economy initiative which was launched in October 2008 has three pillars: valuing and mainstreaming nature's services into national and international accounts; employment generation through green jobs and the laying out the policies; instruments and market signals able to accelerate a transition to a green economy. The Green Economy initiative will draw on the existing and considerable body of work generated by UNEP, the UN-system and others ranging from the impacts and opportunities of shifting fish, fuel and other subsidies up to innovative market mechanisms and financial products already triggering a transition.

Source: Xinhua
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