Environment & Poverty Times
Framework building prepares the ground for change, a task in which governments and international organizations play a key role. The emergence of public-private partnerships over the past decade has amply supported such efforts. Non-governmental organisations and research enhance ongoing processes with essential intellectual input.
The Marrakech Process: building resource- efficient economies and sustainable societies
By Maria Solis and Nis Christensen
The current global financial crisis, multiple environmental threats and the continued global poverty challenge have brought forward the global need to adopt more sustainable consumption and production patterns to move towards low-carbon lifestyles and green economies. Food, energy, and water are under increasing pressure as the global population is projected to increase by 42 per cent between 2008 and 2050 and resource-intensive con- sumption patterns rapidly expand across the world. At the same time, a third of the world’s population now lives in water-stressed regions and one out of seven people is chronically hungry. The impact of these interlinked cri- ses, reflected in the volatility of fuel, food and energy prices, may seem diminished in the short term due to the economic slow-down. However, the global community is coming closer to a consensus on the need for collec- tive action to seize this historical opportunity to build sustainable societies.
The Marrakech Process and Green Economy’s mission “Decoupling” or radically de-linking economic growth from environmental degradation holds the potential to turn the current crises into an opportunity to radically change towards sustainable lifestyles and a green economy. To support this goal, UNEP is centrally involved in two global initiatives: the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) and the Green Economy Initiative.
Responding to identified needs and priorities on SCP, the Marrakech Process promotes the implementation of SCP patterns in close collaboration with local authorities, repre- sentatives of the civil society, and the seven Marrakech Task Forces. These are voluntary initiatives led by governments on specific SCP themes (see figure). So far, seven Task Forces have been created.
The Task Forces are carrying out a range of activities such as: an eco-label project in Africa; national action plans on SCP; capacity building to promote sustainable public procurement; projects and networks to encourage more sustainable products; tools and strategies for sustainable tourism, policy recommendations on sustainable buildings focusing on energy efficiency; promotion of sustainable lifestyles, development of guidelines on education for sustainable consumption, etc.
The Marrakech Process is also an important building block for an international agree- ment on SCP within the UN Commission for Sustainable Development negotiations in 2010-11 and strives to highlight SCP in the international agenda.
The Green Economy Initiative complements the Marrakech Process by promoting a new economic development model based on a green industrial revolution. It is supported by evidence of the income generated, jobs cre- ated and poverty reduction achieved through investing in green industries and technologies.
This article focuses on how the Marrakech Process can contribute to advancing the Green Economy objectives via concrete projects and initiatives. It is not intended to be a compre- hensive account of the two processes but rather attempting to suggest commonalities and how they go hand in hand.
Concrete steps towards the three main objectives of a Green Economy The overall message of SCP and resource ef- ficiency is not necessarily about consuming
less but rather about consuming differently. It is about doing more with less by creating a bet- ter quality of life while minimizing the use of energy, natural resources, toxic materials, and emissions of waste and pollutants throughout the lifecycle of products and services (its de- sign, manufacturing, use, waste and recycling). Initiatives on SCP and resource efficiency are helping to green existing industries and link new initiatives to economic develop- ment through green investment and green jobs. Some examples of how the Marrakech Process is contributing to these objectives are highlighted below.
Revive the world economy, create employment opportunities and protect vulnerable groups
Agriculture is the largest employment sector in the world. This sector is extremely vulnerable to climate change but also a major contributor to it. Introducing resource-efficient and sus- tainable agricultural practices can help reverse this trend while creating new jobs. Organic agriculture, for instance, is a very labour-inten- sive industry. UNEP supports the elaboration of policy frameworks to facilitate conversion to sustainable farming and promote resource- efficient technologies and practices.
Improving the energy efficiency of buildings and construction is one of the areas with the highest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs. Buildings are responsible for 30 to 40% of all energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and waste genera- tion. Through the Marrakech Process, UNEP is organizing workshops back-to-back with major international events such as UNFCCC meetings to encourage governments to invest in energy-efficient buildings. The Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Buildings and Construction is currently looking to develop a checklist for decision-makers not familiar with challenges and opportunities for sustainable buildings and construction.
Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and an important source of for- eign investment and employment for many countries. However it is also an industry that places heavy pressures on natural systems and leads to the consumption of large amounts of energy and other natural resources. The Mar- rakech Task Force on Sustainable Tourism and Development launched the internet-based Green Passport Campaign in 2008 to promote environmental protection and cultural preser- vation through ecotourism, which has a high potential for creating green jobs. The Green Passport has been broadly disseminated in various languages through national tourism networks, including local tourism boards and tour operators. The Task Force also launched the Raising Awareness on Tourism and Cli- mate Change programme, which provides capacity-building assistance to emerging economies through education, information exchange, and promoting awareness of link- ages between climate change and tourism.
Reduce carbon dependency, ecosystem degradation and water scarcity Understanding the impact of our consumption choices is a vital part of securing a sustainable future for all. UNEP is supporting the Educa- tion for Sustainable Consumption (ESC) ini- tiative. Through this effort, UNEP, in concert with UNESCO, the Italian Government and academics, has developed Here and Now, Edu- cation for Sustainable Consumption, a com- pilation of guidelines and recommendations to provide policy makers with an instrument to understand the importance of ESC in sup- porting other policy goals, such as citizenship
and democratic participation, environmental protection, or energy and climate policies. This tool has been very useful in projects such as “sister classrooms” in Costa Rica designed to integrate ESC into primary schools and share experiences between schools.
The Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Lifestyles launched The Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles (GSSL) to identify how young people from different cultures world- wide perceive sustainable lifestyles. The GSSL has been disseminated in 10 languages and has attracted 8,000 participants from more than 20 countries from all the continents. Forums and video conferences with univer- sity students worldwide have been organized and contribute to build a Global Network on Sustainable Lifestyles.
Emerging economies in particular have dem- onstrated a strong interest in Sustainable Pub- lic Procurement (SPP) as a tool for promoting more sustainable societies. UNEP has initiated a project entitled “Capacity building for SPP in developing countries” that promotes the implementation of SPP through the testing of a methodology developed by the Marrakech Task Force on SPP in six pilot countries (Costa Rica, Mexico, Tunisia, Mauritius, Chile, and Uruguay). Regional training workshops on the Task Force on SPP Approach were organized in Paris and in Santiago in 2009 targeting a pool of 50 experts from over 20 countries. An awareness workshop on SPP, attended by 25 representatives from various Arab countries, was also organized in Cairo in coordination with the League of Arab States. The goal is for 14 countries to test the SPP approach before 2011.
Support the Millennium Development Goal of ending extreme world poverty by 2012 Mainstreaming SCP and Resource Efficiency into development strategies provides an essen- tial contribution to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Policies and actions such as the ones described above can serve to bolster poverty reduction efforts by cre- ating new sustainable markets and jobs, thus reducing future environmental costs as well as increasing resource efficiency. It is also im- portant to mainstream gender considerations
into development strategies. Women benefit significantly from the creation of green jobs and the revitalization of the economy as they are one of the groups most affected by poverty and unemployment. A gender-sensitive ap- proach is also critical in promoting Education for Sustainable Development.
Developing countries have the opportunity to leapfrog the costly and polluting phases of de- velopment by jumping straight to a sustainable development path and a better quality of life, avoiding the less resource-efficient, more pol- luting and ultimately more costly development path followed by industrialized countries. Towards this end, the Marrakech Process’s Cooperation with Africa Task Force will be supporting the implementation of sustainable consumption and production in the region. For example, the African 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production was launched in 2006 in attendance of high-level representatives of Af- rican countries and has been endorsed by the African Ministerial Conference on Environ- ment (AMCEN). The 12th Session of AMCEN adopted the Johannesburg Declaration on Environment for Sustainable Development in Africa, which requests the African Union to work with all relevant stakeholders on the development and launching of an African Eco-labelling Mechanism. National SCP pro- grammes have been developed by Tanzania and Mauritius and local SCP programmes have been developed by Maputo, Mozambique and Cairo, Egypt.
About the authors: Maria Solis and Nis Chris- tensen, UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics.
For more information on the Marrakech Process please visit www.unep.fr/scp/marrakech
or contact the Marrakech Process team at unep.tie@unep. org. For more information about UNEP’s Green Economy, please visit www.unep.org/greeneconomy
Leapfrogging is a term used to describe the possibility for developing countries of bypass- ing inefficient, polluting and ultimately costly phases of development by jumping straight to sustainable human development and a better quality of life. In other words, leapfrogging avoids many of the phases that industrialized countries have gone through.
For example, leapfrogging is seen in the use of solar energy in rural areas where energy sources were previously unreliable or limited. Access of poor farmers to mobile phones is another type of leapfrogging. This form of communication technology enables farmers to access information about the market value of their crops, enabling them to create better trade opportunities.
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