Disaster resilience key to green economy

 
By Dizery Salim

GENEVA, 16 November 2011 - A strong push from the UN Environment Programme for green investments to protect key sectors of the economy from crises and shocks has earned praise from private companies keen to reduce disaster risk.

“Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication,” launched today in Beijing, says $1.3 trillion should be spent in 10 areas to improve economic efficiency and create a buffer against disasters – agriculture, buildings, energy supply, fisheries, forestry, industry including energy efficiency, tourism, transport, waste management and water.

To counter food shocks, for example, UNEP recommends $108 billion to green the agriculture sector, including by reducing crop losses from hazards such as drought or floods. The report says less than five per cent of agricultural research funding is targeted at reducing post-harvest losses.

Peter Gruetter, Director and Distinguished Fellow at CISCO Internet Business Solutions Group – a member of the private sector advisory group associated with the UN office for disaster risk reduction (UNISDR) – expressed support for UNEP’s assertion that governments should encourage green investments with incentives, but stressed that those investments must be “disaster proof.”

“To be truly green, investment planning must account for the risk of floods, hurricanes and extreme weather patterns that have now become the norm,” Mr. Gruetter said. “Green policies need not be complicated. They simply need to be well-thought out. Investors need to know what risks are involved, how best to handle those risks, and what to do when something goes wrong.”

Every year, an estimated 11.2 billion tonnes of solid waste are collected worldwide. In emerging economies with rapid growth and urbanisation, the need to green the waste sector is particularly strong, says the report.

In developing countries, half the budget for waste management is spent on collection, while expenditure on technologies and facilities for treatment, recovery and disposal is generally low. The World Bank, for example, has estimated that China must increase its national waste management budget at least eight-fold to keep up with its growth.

Consistent with UNISDR’s “Making Cities Resilient” campaign, which is founded on 10 essential actions to strengthen city safety, the Green Economy Report recommends that $110 billion be invested in waste management, such as preventing uncontrolled dumping that blocks drainage systems and contributes to floods.

“A basic thrust of UNISDR’s resilient cities campaign is to encourage municipal governments to assign a budget for disaster risk reduction,” said Gruetter. “They are also encouraged to provide incentives to both businesses and the public sector to invest in reducing their susceptibility to disaster, which we believe is consistent with the tenets of a green economy.”
The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015.
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