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The concept of a green economy has become a center of policy debates in recent years. During the recent global financial crisis, the United Nations General Assembly and several UN agencies underscored that the crisis represented an opportunity to promote green economy initiatives as part of the stimulus packages being put in place to support the recovery. Furthermore, when the GA decided to call a UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, it chose as one of its major themes "a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication".
The concept carries the promise of a new economic growth paradigm that is friendly to the earth's ecosystems and can also contribute to poverty alleviation. Viewed in this framework, it is compatible with the older concept of sustainable development that has been mainstreamed into the United Nations' work for decades. But it also entails risks and challenges, particularly for developing countries, for whom economic development becomes more demanding and the fear arises that the new concept could be used to
reinforce protectionist trends, enhance the conditionality associated with international financial cooperation, and unleash new forces that would reinforce international inequalities.
At the UNCSD's first Preparatory Committee in May 2009, several delegations therefore requested that the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development and other relevant organizations cooperate to prepare a study to be available for the second Preparatory Committee which would assess both the benefits and the challenges and risks associated with a transition to a green economy. This document responds to this mandate. It contains three papers. The first one, by José Antonio Ocampo, looks at the macroeconomic policy implications of the transition to the green economy. The second, by Aaron Cosbey, focuses on the interlinked issues of trade,
investment and technology. The third, by Martin Khor, considers the risks that this concept generates for developing countries and the domestic and international policies necessary to promote the green economy in these countries according to the principles of sustainable development.