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Green economy discussion ahead of Swiss vote on the Green Economy Initiative

20/09/2016 - 12:45 - 14:15
GEN Event

In light of the upcoming Swiss vote on the Green Economy Initiative, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in collaboration with the Geneva Environment Network (GEN) hosted a discussion on Tuesday 20 September from 12:45 to 14:15.

The focus has been on the investment, avoided costs, added benefits and indeed, the trade offs of the green economy.  Short inventions have been made by Bilan, Dr. Andrea Bassi, on benefits and trade offs and Mr Philip Gass on the international experience in implementing the green economy. Ms Liesbeth Casier opened the discussion and concluding remarks have been made by Mr Benjamin Simmons. 
 
The discussion took place in the meeting room “Rhin”, ground floor, International Environment House 2, chemin de Balexert 9, 1219 Châtelaine, Geneva.

Summary:

On 20 September, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Geneva Environment Network  hosted a thought-provoking discussion on the Green Economy ahead of the first ever nationwide vote on a popular initiative on the subject in Switzerland.

Green Economy policies are a crucial part of countries’ efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, said Philip Gass, Senior Researcher at the IISD. Meanwhile, for developing states Green Economy policies can ensure that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced without compromising their development needs, he stressed.

It is also important to consider the national versus local effects of Green Economy actions, underlined Andrea Bassi - founder of the KnowlEdge green consulting company. While no studies currently exist that can attribute nation-wide economic benefits to Green Economy policies alone, the case for their economic viability can easily be made at municipal level, he pointed out.

Benjamin Simmons, head of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform, also underlined the importance of continuing the debate, particularly due to trade-offs in terms of job losses in ‘brown’ sectors. He acknowledged that a full social inclusiveness remains a major challenge for a Green Economy but positive trends in decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth can already be observed across the globe.

During the subsequent discussion, participants considered how lowering material consumption could be hard for a country like Switzerland that is heavily dependent on high-tech sectors, but also that this initiative would ensure it remains a leader in this field. It was underlined that - whatever the result - the referendum and nationwide discussion is a success in itself and that other countries would benefit from holding them too.

Switzerland Green Economy Action Plan adopted in 2013 and its further development over the period 2016-2019 is the centrepiece of the Green Economy in the country. It contains various measures in the priority areas of consumption and production, waste and raw materials, and cross-cutting instruments.

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