What is the Green Economy?
The “green economy” refers to the burgeoning economic sector that is focused on environmental sustainability. The green economy seeks to address the interdependence of human economic development with the health of the natural ecosystem.
One of the driving principles behind the green economy is natural capitalism – that the world’s economy ought to be considered within the larger economy of natural resources and ecosystem services that sustain us. This is fundamentally different from the traditional model that views natural resources as materials whose only value is use by humans for economic gain. The green economy moves towards the ideal that human prosperity does not have to be detrimental to the natural world.
6 High Growth Sectors of Green Economy
Today, green economy is a billion dollar sector that includes everything from eco-friendly and green lifestyle products, organic agriculture, renewable energy and clean tech, water & waste management, natural resource and land management.
Below are 6 of the most promising, high growth sectors of the green economy:
Renewable energy includes solar, wind, geothermal, and wave energy as well as bio gas and fuel cells.
The carbon emissions and the spiraling costs of petroleum have been the key triggers in urging us to go green. A lot of companies are stepping forward in this domain to come up with innovative ways of channelizing renewable energy for mass usage.
Construction has always been a big sector of any economy. Green buildings, whether commercial or residential, form a long term sustainable impact on the environment as they are cost and energy efficient.
Green buildings deal with things like alternative energy paneling, waste management, earth friendly products, and water efficiency (during construction and after).
Transportation not only affects the economy but our everyday lives. Clean transportation means less dependency on fuel for vehicles, trains etc. From hybrid and electric cars to public transportation – if it transports and sustains, it’s included in clean transportation sector.
Any alternative to fossil fuels is also a part of the clean transportation sector.
Water is becoming a short resource day by day. Water recycling, rain water systems, water purification and storm water planning has made the water management sector an important one for a greener economy.
Waste management involves recycling of waste, salvaging, toxic remediation, sustainable/recyclable packaging etc. Any technology that deals with how to get rid of waste or how to use it for other purposes is part of the waste management sector.
Land may have no depreciation value, but it can still be destroyed. The green economy aims to make it profitable and sustainable through proper land management. It does that through organic agriculture, habitat restoration, conservation, forestry, reforestation and soil stabilization.
Green Jobs & Green Careers
The Obama Administration has placed the development of the green economy at the top of its agenda, committing billions in stimulus funds towards the green economy sector, including $15B towards the development of alternative fuels. With Van Jones, the author of The Green Collar Economy as his Green Jobs czar, Obama has set the stage for the rapid growth of the green economy and green collar jobs in the United States.
Green jobs are becoming available even outside the green sector. More and more companies are adopting sustainability programs to help lower energy costs, reduce waste, and improve environmental track records. As a result, demand for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) personnel and sustainability teams are on the rise. As the green sector continues to grow, many great green career options await job seekers looking for work that makes a difference.
Challenges in developing a green economy
The idea of turning an economy green is ideal but it’s not without its set of challenges.
Shifting to green technology on a nationwide scale requires financial and technical support. While developed countries can afford it, developing ones cannot.
One of the major challenges of the green economy has been to provide support to developing countries. Another has been convincing governments and corporations about the harmful effects of global warming and the rising cost of business that will result from climate change.
The high price of electricity powered by renewable energy has been another challenge along with the fact that clean, green energy cannot as yet meet the large scale energy requirements of a city or a country.
While funding in green start-ups is on the rise, their success rate is still unpredictable. Sometimes technologies aren’t as successful as originally thought, other times it turns out to be a very viable business venture.
Like any developing economy and sector, the green economy is not without it challenges. Yet its growth is testimony to the fact that it is here to stay and will continue to grow.
UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative
The United Nations Environment Program started the green economy initiative to encourage world economies to start becoming green.
The project aims to bring a green revolution that will create income, generate jobs and reduce poverty. Its goal is to increase investment in environmental infrastructure, clean technology, renewable energy, waste management, green building and transportation etc.
It doesn’t work to raise mass awareness but guides governments and policy makers on how to bring about the changes in their economy.