Investing just 2 percent of global GDP to green key sectors of the economy could cut humanity’s Ecological Footprint almost in half while actually boosting economic growth, according to a new report by the United Nations Environmental Programme.
The report cites Global Footprint Network data as evidence of the challenge humanity has faced in improving human welfare without also incurring large increases in ecological demand.
“With 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a press release. “But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere that sustain our economies, and thus, the lives of each and everyone of us.”
The report calls for channeling $1.3 trillion into the transformation of 10 key sectors—agriculture, buildings, energy supply, fisheries, forestry, industry, tourism, transport, waste management and water. Such a shift, the report asserts, could deliver long-term growth equal to or better than the most optimistic scenarios projected under current economic policies, while avoiding the catastrophic risks of “business-as-usual” such as climate change, water scarcity and loss of ecosystem services.
Greening key sectors would spur growth in jobs and wealth that, over the long term, would exceed those lost from the transition away from resource-intensive activities, the report says. It would also have greater impact in reducing poverty because of the direct reliance of the poor on the health and vitality of their surrounding natural environment.