Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala in South Korea: Income for development from a global financial transaction tax
“The green economy is a myth so long as only a little greening is added to traditional practices. It is absolutely essential to separate growth from the unsustainable use of non-renewable natural resources,” Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala stated at the 2012 World Conservation Congress organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in South Korea.
The World Leaders Dialogue “Green growth: over-burdened by scepticism?” was shown on South Korean television and sparked about two million tweets.
Besides Minister Hautala, the forum panellists were Lyonpo Dorji, Former Prime Minister of Bhutan, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and Soogil Young, Co-Chair of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth of South Korea.
The panellists agreed that change must take place quickly. UNEP Executive Director Steiner stated that effective steps have already been taken. At best, half of Germany’s energy needs can be met by solar energy, and more than one-third of energy in Texas is derived from wind power.
In order to make the debate more concrete, session moderator Fiona Harvey, a journalist at The Guardian, asked the panellists to specify one way to finance the green economy.
“It would be a global financial transaction tax; the funds obtained from the tax would be directed to promoting green growth in developing countries,” Minister Hautala said.
A value for natural capital
The discussion emphasised the need to get all actors involved in the change: all of civil society must be incorporated in decision-making, alongside governments and business.
“The benefits of green economy must be distributed to all. That's why I prefer to use the expression of “Green Inclusive Economy”, she explained.
The panellists also agreed that measurement of value only in monetary terms is misleading. According to Peter Bakker, the most progressive companies are already on the move and are making practical changes.
For example, Puma has decided to stop using leather in its footwear.
“Construction of a new wind turbine or solar panel is not enough. A revolution must take place in the business world and it must be done now,” Bakker said.
He pointed out that it is important for companies to maximise the capital received from investments. Aside from its monetary value, capital also involves natural and social capital. These are not yet taken into account when making investments and therefore a market for them must be created, where investors can act.
The value of natural capital was also brought out by Naoko Ishii, CEO & Chairperson of the GEF. In his view, the current economic system is really not an option for urbanising Asia.
“Sustainable development requires healthy ecosystems and healthy ecosystems need sustainable development.”
Dialogue on the Mekong
Development Minister Hautala also participated in an event organised by Finland during the Congress. The event discussed a project in the Mekong River Basin, financed by Finnish development cooperation funds, that strives to create constructive dialogue between the region’s citizens, civil society organisations, governments and official regional actors.
The project is implemented by IUCN which, thanks to its State and organisation members, is well equipped to promote dialogue.
Hundreds of dam projects, which generate energy for countries emerging from poverty are underway on the Mekong River. On the other hand, dams and reservoirs threaten local people’s residential areas and sources of livelihood.
“When making decisions, all parties must be consulted and decisions should be grounded in thorough information about the effects both to nature and to the people,” the minister stressed. She also called for alternative development plans, so that the energy obtained would also benefit the poorest of the poor.
During the IUCN Congress, Minister Hautala had bilateral discussions with Executive Director Achim Steiner of the United Nations Environment Programme, CEO & Chairperson Naoko Ishii of the Global Environment Fund and IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre.
Among the central themes of the discussions were implementation of the decisions made at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the creation of new global sustainable development performance indicators for future decades.
Nordic initiative on Arctic cooperation
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an organisation with non-governmental and government members. The membership comprises more than 1,200 organisations in approximately 160 countries. The association promotes nature conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources.
The predecessor of the Finnish Society for Nature Conservation was among the founders of the International Union for the Protection of Nature on 5 October 1948. The State of Finland has been an IUCN member since 1968.
The IUCN world congress takes place at four-year intervals. The Nordic countries prepared an initiative which aims to strengthen cooperation in the Arctic region and calls on IUCN to prepare a comprehensive action programme for the Arctic region. The IUCN World Congress ends on 15 September.
Video of the The World Leaders Dialogue “Green growth: over-burdened by scepticism?":