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By GEC · 25th June, 2012
Austin Neill 184253
The tiger who came to tea. Photo: Austin Neill on Unsplash

In 2012, the Green Economy Coalition supported a broad-based online consultation with hundreds of policy analysts, community activists, academics, and thinkers on equality, sustainability, and economics. We asked them to help us develop the guiding principles of what a truly inclusive, truly green economy should look like. After hundreds of submissions and discussion, we co-produced the following nine principles in June 2012. 

As of 2018, we are consulting with our partners to update these principles and launch a new, streamlined version very soon. Watch this space!

Nine Principles of a Green Economy

A green, fair and inclusive economy provides a better quality of life for all within the ecological limits of the planet:

1. The Sustainable Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy is a means to deliver sustainability

  • It is one of the vehicles to deliver sustainable development – not a replacement for it.
  • It respects its dependency on a healthy environment and it strives to create wellbeing for all
  • It addresses all three dimensions (environmental, social and economic) and develops policy mixes that integrate and seek the best results across all of them

2. The Justice Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy supports equity

  • It supports equity between and within countries and between  generations
  • It respects human rights and cultural diversity
  • It promotes gender equality and recognises knowledge, skills, experience and contribution of each individual
  • It respects indigenous peoples rights to lands, territories and resources

3. The Dignity Principle. A green, fair and inclusive economy creates genuine prosperity and wellbeing for all

  • It alleviates poverty
  • It delivers a high level of human development in all countries
  • It provides food security and universal access to basic health, education, sanitation, water, energy and other essential services
  • It transforms traditional jobs by building capacity and skills, respects the rights of workers and actively develops new, decent green jobs and careers
  • It achieves a just transition.
  • It acknowledges the contribution of unpaid work
  • It promotes the self-empowerment and education of women
  • It support the right to development if delivered in a sustainable way

4. Healthy Planet Principle. A green, fair and inclusive economy restores lost biodiversity, invests in natural systems and rehabilitates those that are degraded

  • It recognizes its dependency on the productivity of ecosystems and biodiversity
  • It does not violate, disrupt, or overstep ecological boundaries and commits to co-operate within them, including reducing pollution, safeguarding ecosystems, biodiversity integrity, other natural resources including air, water, soil, and bio-geochemical cycles
  • It ensures that environmental integrity is maintained before allocating resources among competing uses
  • It ensures an efficient and wise use of natural resources, including water, natural gas, oil and mineral resources, without compromising future generations prospects
  • It supports the respect of all forms of life
  • It applies the precautionary principle
  • It assesses the potential impact of new technologies and innovations before they are released
  • It assesses the environmental impacts of economic policies and seeks to find the least disruptive, most positive  benefit for the environment and people
  • It promotes the restoration of balance between ecological and social relations

5. The Inclusion Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy is inclusive and participatory in decision-making

  • It is based on transparency, sound science and the visible engagement of all relevant stakeholders
  • It supports good governance at all levels from local to global
  • It empowers citizens and promotes full and effective voluntary participation at all levels
  • It respects cultural values, is tolerant to religious views and lifestyle choices, and sensitive to ethical considerations
  • It builds societal awareness, developing education and skills
  • It is transparent, inclusive and participatory, giving equal opportunities to, and advocating further for the rights of, young and old, women and men, poor and low skilled workers, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities and local communities

6. The Good Governance and Accountability Principle. A green, fair and inclusive economy is accountable

  • It provides a framework to structure markets and production in consultation with all stakeholders
  • It reports its sustainable progress on environmental, social and economic measures, in company, national and international accounts.
  • It achieves transparency
  • It promotes international cooperation and defines international liability
  • It promotes global policy coherence and fair international cooperation
  • It promotes common but differentiated responsibilities
  • It commits to international human rights standards and environmental agreements

7. The Resilience Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy contributes to economic, social and environmental resilience

  • It supports the development of social and environmental protection systems, and preparedness against and adaptation for climate extreme events and disasters
  • It creates a universal social protection floor.
  • It promotes a variety of green economy models relevant to different cultural, social and environmental contexts
  • It considers indigenous local knowledge and promotes the sharing of diverse knowledge systems
  • It builds on local skills and capacities and develops these further
  • It supports sustainable, diverse economies and local livelihoods
  • It promotes systems approaches, recognising the interdependence and integrated nature of these systems, underpinned by culture and ethical values

8. The Efficiency and Sufficiency Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy delivers sustainable consumption and production

  • It seeks to ensure prices reflect true costs incorporating social and environmental externalities
  • It implements the polluter pays principle
  • It supports life-cycle management, and strives for zero emission, zero waste,  resource efficiency and optimal water use
  • It prioritises renewable energy and renewable resources
  • It seeks absolute decoupling of production and consumption from negative social and environmental impact
  • It delivers sustainable lifestyles supporting a major cultural transformation
  • It promotes social, economic and environmental innovation
  • It gives fair rights to access intellectual property within a global legal framework

9. The Generations Principle.  A green, fair and inclusive economy invests for the present and the future

  • It delivers inter-generational and intra-generational fairness
  • It promotes conservation of resources and the quality of life over the long term
  • It influences and regulates the finance sector so that it invests in the green, fair and inclusive economy  and achieves a stable global monetary system
  • It prioritises long-term, scientifically-sound decision making above the short-term
  • It promotes equitable education at all levels and sustainability education for children

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