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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        22  February 2011

UN reveals paradigm shift for green economy

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The United Nations on Monday unveiled a strategy to ensure a sustainable future for the planet by investing 2 percent of wealth generated by the global economy, or some $1.3 trillion annually, in 10 key sectors.

This paradigm shift toward a “green economy” would also help alleviate chronic poverty, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) said in a report that was released as more than 100 environment ministers met in Nairobi, Kenya.

Under the UN strategy, individual incomes would outstrip trajectories forecast by traditional economic models while halving humanity’s per capita ecological footprint by 2050.

Reshuffling the global economic mix will challenge vested interests and disrupt employment, the UNEP acknowledged.

But the plan promises to generate growth rates equal to or higher than a business-as-usual approach that —stoked by two centuries of breakneck industrialization — slowly eroded earth’s capacity to cope.

“We must continue to develop and grow our economies,” said the UNEP’s executive director, Achim Steiner, as he unveiled the study, “Toward a Green Economy: A Synthesis for Policy Makers.”

“But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life-support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere that sustain our economies and thus the lives of each and every one of us.”

The report notes that long-simmering crises erupted into plain view during the first decade of the 21st century.

Accelerating climate change, the dramatic loss of biodiversity, flaring food shortages, a growing gap between demand and supply for fresh water and the destruction of life-giving tropical forests were reminders that earth’s balance and bounty cannot be taken for granted, it says.

At the same time, it says, the financial meltdown of 2008 points to deep-seated structural problems in the global economy.

“Although the causes of these crises vary, at a fundamental level they all share a common feature: the misallocation of capital,” said Pavan Sukhdev, a Deutsche Bank analyst who headed the UN’s green economy initiative.

The report singles out “perverse” incentives that encourage unsustainable behavior, including $600 billion doled out every year in fossil fuel subsidies and $20 billion to industrial fisheries chasing dwindling stocks.

The UN called on political leaders to blaze the trail.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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