People's Domain

[Opinion] Dissecting the Green Economy

The “Green Economy” is considered as a relatively new concept in economics. It is believed that the “Green Economy” will serve as an alternative vision for growth and development. The concept promotes what many economists refer to as a triple bottom line or an economy consists of sustaining development and promoting environmental and social well-being.

The peoples of Asia believes, however, that the “Green Economy” will not serve as an alternative to the current economic system the reason why it rejects the mainstreaming of the concept in the Rio+20 Earth Summit. The rejection is also grounded on the belief that the concept was developed as a result of the recurring crises that subjected the global capitalist system. It is primarily envisioned to save the system and keep generating profits.

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The Green Economy is not characterized by a redistribution of the ownership and control of economic resources. It is premised on a highly inequitable and undemocratic structure wherein a few controls the vast portion of resources – natural, economic and financial resources.

It is also an economic system which is not oriented towards providing for peoples’ needs in a manner that is in harmony with the environment and within the earth’s carrying capacity. Instead it upholds profit generation as the main motivation for economic undertakings, aggregate growth as the main measure of success, and markets as main determinants of what goods and services are sold and who can buy them.

A strong and sustainable global economy can only be founded on strong, vibrant, sustainable and equitable national and local economies.  The Green Economy is premised on continued integration of national and local economies of South countries with global markets, resulting in the net outflow of resources and wealth from the South to the North, a race to the bottom in terms of wages and prices of our materials, and weak economies. Only Asian elites are benefiting from these kinds of national and local economies.

The Green economy does not recognize and account for discrimination and disparities based on gender, class, race and ethnicity, nor does it recognize social reproduction and activities outside of the public sphere such as the invisible work of women.  Economies that are blind to these conditions will only serve to reinforce injustices arising from these.

Ironically, the Green Economy will not green agriculture, feed the hungry, generate decent jobs or eliminate poverty. Instead it will distort entitlements in favor of those who can pay, cut subsidies in areas crucial to the poor and lead to the disintegration of local, diverse food systems.

It does not recognize the principle that land, water, forests, atmosphere, eco-systems and territories should not be subjected to private ownership and control, nor does it recognize the rights of all to fair and sustainable access to and use of the commons.

In fact, the Green Economy is being defined on quite the opposite principle – to treat nature and the functions of nature as capital. This “natural capital” and accompanying low carbon technologies will supposedly be the new drivers of what will now be “green growth.”  These propositions are supposedly what primarily differentiate the green economy from the “brown economy”.

Capital by definition is owned, can be bought, sold, traded, on the basis of which financial instruments can be derived several times over. The proposal to treat nature and the capacities and functions of nature as capital is clearly intended to subject them to private ownership, and to package them as commodities for trading in global markets and for profit generation.

The Green Economy will definitely not result in “improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.”

In its place, the Green Economy will raise the commodification, privatization and financialization of nature and concentration of control over nature by elites to new heights.

The commodification, privatization and financialization of natural resources have been happening for some time. The Green Economy will deepen these processes and expand them to include all resources that are crucial to life like; water, biodiversity, atmosphere, forests, lands, seeds. It will intensify the globalization of the right to own and monopolize these resources, the globalization of such markets, and the globalization of impacts.

As people, our sufferings and struggles have been compounded by multiple, recurring global crises of food, energy, finance and climate.  These crises are symptoms and results of the fundamental flaws and injustices of the global capitalist system. There seems to be nothing new to the Green Economy aside from sustaining the old capitalists system. Things will not change for us under the Green Economy.

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