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  • Poor nations 'need to find own path to green economy'

[NEW DELHI] Developing countries should be given 'policy space' to tailor policies on the transition to a green economy that match their development priorities, an international meeting has heard.

There is no 'one size fits all' solution and national priorities should define each country's strategy for environmentally friendly growth, environment ministers and senior officials of more than 40 countries told a meeting organised by the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) and India's Ministry of Environment and Forests in New Delhi this week (3–4 October).

The Delhi ministerial dialogue — one of several events feeding into a major UNCSD conference on sustainable development, Rio+20, to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — focused on the issue of creating green economies in the context of poverty eradication, sustainable development and inclusive growth in developing countries.

Delegates from developing countries expressed several concerns, such as the varying interpretations of what 'green economy' means for different stakeholders. For developed countries it implies a low-carbon growth model, even if it involves high-end, costly technologies, whereas developing countries view green economies as sustainable, natural-resource based livelihoods.

"There is a fuzzy concept of green economy and the near- to medium-term implications for developing countries and least-developed countries to transition to a green economy," Tariq Ahmad Karim, Bangladesh's high commissioner in India, told the meeting.

A second concern centred on integrating food and energy security with green economy strategies, especially against the backdrop of climate change. Moving to greener models of agriculture depends on the transfer of, and financial support for, green technologies to enhance productivity, improve resilience and diversify production systems, delegates said.

Similarly, moves to a green economy should address the issue of increasing access to clean energy for the poor and achieving universal electricity access by 2030, they said.

A third concern was that developed countries should not resort to 'green protectionism' or impose trade barriers such as high tariffs on goods whose production is based on technologies with high carbon emissions.

Another area of concern was the transfer of affordable, sustainable technologies from developed countries when developing countries do not benefit from technologies for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Sha Zukang, UN's under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs and secretary-general for Rio+20, said afterwards that delegates had "not resolved all issues" or achieved consensus on the costs and benefits of moves to green economies.

One unresolved issue is a proposal by delegates from Colombia and Guatemala that the Rio+20 conference should develop 'sustainable development goals' along the lines of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

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