Global Policy Forum

World Economic and Social Survey 2011:The Great Green Technological Transformation

Despite great achievements of material welfare, existing models of economic growth and production have had devastating and lasting effects on the environment. A new UN report adamantly argues for a global transition towards a “green economy” in order to avoid further ecological destruction and secure fairer distribution of opportunity and welfare amongst countries. The idea of a “green economy” is in line with “sustainable development” yet strays from familiar ideas of economic growth and demands unprecedented levels of technological innovation, investment and global cooperation. If all goals are to be met by the set deadline of 2050, nothing short of a “fundamental technological overhaul” will be necessary.    

By UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

July 2011

Enormous improvements in human welfare have taken place over the past two centuries, but these have been unevenly distributed and have come at a lasting cost of degradation of our natural environment. At the same time, we cannot stop the engines of growth, because much more economic progress is still needed in order for people in developing countries to have a decent living. But using the traditional environmentally irresponsible development paths is no longer defensible. To meet both the objectives of conquering poverty and protecting the environment, the World Economic and Social Survey 2011 calls for a complete transformation of technology on which human economic activity is based.

The "great green technological transformation" that the Survey champions will have to be completed in the next 30 to 40 years, that is, twice as fast as it took to accomplish previous major technological transitions. Because of the limited time frame, Governments will need to play a much more active and stimulating role to accelerate the green energy transformation. The Survey details new policy directions and major investments in developing and scaling up clean energy technologies, sustainable farming and forestry techniques, climate proofing of infrastructure and reducing non-bio-degradable waste production.

Read the full report.


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