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Climate Action 2011-2012

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© luigig Climate Change is already being felt in small island states as their groundwater supplies are infiltrated by rising salt water. 192 climateactionprogramme.org ‘peculiar vulnerabilities’ and are still at the level of primary production, will be marginalised without access to technology or the opportunities to commercialise viable indigenous technologies. This will have grave implications for their future economic and social aspirations. At the intergovernmental level new national and international conventions/initiatives addressing energy, water, transport, and food security might emerge. Understandably, developing countries do not wish to be placed in a disadvantageous position. On the other side, countries and companies have very real concerns about protecting intellectual property, retaining competitive advantage, the provision of incentives to the private sector to create the enabling environment for green technology development and investment as well as safeguarding national industry and interests. Both for fixing the climate change challenges and the creation of the global green economy, green technologies will be pivotal to success. In this regard, countries have to determine what clutch of policies, legislative and regulatory matrix and fiscal incentives could stimulate private sector investment in the development and use of green technologies. The roaD from Durban anD rio Looking ahead, what could we take away from Rio next year? The answer is ‘multiple successes’. These would take the shape of a number of tangible projects and programmes such as the Secretary-General’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’, which should bring power to millions currently deprived of it, as well as increase energy efficiency, address private sector interest in enhancing shareholder value and brand identity by creating profitability in a resource constrained world and encouraging an academic initiative on sustainability. At the intergovernmental level new national and international initiatives/conventions addressing energy, water, transport, and food security might emerge, with strong emphasis on the idea of Sustainable Development Goals currently being advanced by some countries. While the developed country lifestyle is that to which the majority aspire, we have to face the issue of consumption patterns, as Professor Munasinghe has attempted to do with his Millennium Consumption Goals. Rio might start the dialogue on sustainable consumption and production and the development of a tool or measure of a sustainable development index (SDI), which may initially be used in conjunction with GDP measurements until fully elaborated and universally accepted and applied. The International financial institutions will have a key role in this. Stockholm ’72 initiated the international environmental agenda. Rio ’92 defined the international sustainable development agenda and established ecology, economy and society as three inextricably linked pillars. Rio+20 will embed sustainable development in government policy and practice, and sustainability practices as the ethic by which businesses operate and the world’s citizens live. Accomplishing all this lies in the faith of which Jimmy Cliff sings. It is having faith in mankind to rise to the challenge of finding solutions to the problems that confront us. Paul Gilding captures this beautifully in The Great Disruption, when he says, “Given our natural survival instincts, our history as a species, our new global connectedness, and the scale of the threat … we will draw on what is great about being human and dig deep to express our highest potential – the potential that can take us through the coming crisis and out the other side to a stronger, safer and more advanced society.” The roads we take to and from Rio will put us safely along this trajectory. Elizabeth Thompson is writing in her personal capacity, and not as an official representative. She is UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Coordinator of Rio+20. She is a former Member of Parliament and government Minster from Barbados, who at various times from 1994 to 2008 held portfolio responsibility for the Ministries of Environment, Energy, Health, Physical Development and Planning, as well as Housing and Lands. From 2008 to 2010 she was Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate and led a consultancy group which developed energy policy for two Caribbean countries. As a Minister, Liz Thompson led the development of national sustainable development, energy and green economy policies. She is a lawyer and qualified commercial arbitrator. Her Masters degrees are in business administration and energy law and policy. In 2008 she received the UNEP Champion of the Earth Award. UNCSD Secretariat 2 UN Plaza, Room DC2-2220, New York, NY 10017, USA Email: uncsd2012@un.org | Web: www.uncsd2012.org

Life guard © UN Photo An investment of $1.1 million in mangrove restoration and rehabilitation in Vietnam saved an estimated $7.3 million a year in sea dike maintenance and significantly reduced the loss of life and property during Typhoon Wukong in 2000. mangrove ecosystems not only combat climate change by storing carbon, they protect beaches from erosion, are coastal defences and act as nurseries for fish www.unep.org GREEN ECONOMY: POWERING CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

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