20 years after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and 10 years after the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, The United Nations held a conference on Sustainable Development. This very important international conference is better known as the Rio+20 Summit. The summit wanted to open discussions about global sustainable development and wanted to see international efforts to deal with long-standing and newly emerging global challenges.
These past conferences were also very important because on this 2012 conference, they looked back on all the past achievements. And based on the past commitments, the conference promoted the formation of new political commitments with the focus now on creating a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty elimination. And also on the institutional framework that is needed for such developments.
Although global sustainable development has been promoted by several international efforts over the past 20 years, there are still a lot of challenges that need to be overcome. Some of the challenges are:
- World population exceeding 7 billion people.
- More than 1 billion people still living below the poverty line.
- Nearly two-third of the countries still haven’t completed industrialization and modernization.
- Pressure on Earth’s resources and environment placed by the growing population and development demands.
And also challenges like food security, energy and resource security, environmental risks, climate change and major natural disasters are becoming more and more prominent.
Another very big challenge is the gap between the developed world and the least developed countries that is getting bigger and bigger. This widening wealth gap is creating various social problems to lots of countries like regional conflicts, ecological destruction and social unrest. And although it is only fair that the developed countries help developing countries achieving their goals of sustainable development by transferring funds and technology, the financial crisis made rich countries not want to honor their commitments anymore.
One of the largest developing countries in the world is China, and they have been working on the concept of sustainable development for a long time now. The Chinese government has implemented a national sustainable development strategy, making sure that their economic development isn’t causing any harm to their resources or environment. They also adopted some positive and practical measures.
- First, because China’s understanding of sustainable development is very deepening, they have put forward a series of advanced ideas. Some of these ideas are The New Path of Industrialization, the Scientific Outlook on Development, a resource-saving and environmentally friendly environment, an innovation-driven country and ecological conservation.
- Secondly, China is promoting green economic development, this is a fundamental shift in their economic growth. They are using advanced technologies and they developed strategic emerging industries in the fields of energy conservation, environmental protection and new energy.
- Last, China is investing in extensive experimental sustainable development projects.
And their plans and projects have been having positive effects. Their energy, resources and environmental costs needed to support the economic growth have been declining. Their GDP is the 11th in world, but still, energy consumption per unit of GDP has decreased by 44.9 per cent and water consumption per unit of GDP has decreased by 80.3 per cent.
To develop a green economy, lots of technical and financial support and investments are needed. But in developing countries, the research and development capability isn’t enough to support the actual needs. It’s needed for these countries that investments and financing channels to promote research in green technology and development are nurtured. Development of a green economy in these countries is hard because there is no consumer demand because the consumer’s spending power is very low. And a quick green development can cause an adverse effect on the employment of certain groups, economic development and the social stability of underdeveloped areas.
So, it has become very important that countries work together in developing a green economy. Green economy must be promoted, and countries worldwide must work together to create a stable and sustainable international environment.
First, countries need to share ideas and experiences openly. Secondly, also technology needs to be shared, more in particular green technology. Developing countries should be helped by developed countries in enhancing their technological capacity so they can achieve green transformation. And thirdly, markets and consumers need to support the green economy. This is needed so countries don’t have to set up trade barriers and can just create an international environment to work in.
Because countries worldwide are on different levels and stages of development, it is important to encourage diverse green development methods and not to set up a unified roadmap for the transformation to a green economy.