in the air. Only a few weeks ago General Electric ofAmerica and the state of California announcedcooperation with China's Ministry of Railways. Theplan is to use Chinese railway technology to assist inthe development of the state's high speed rail links. Afascinating reflection of the way geopolitics areshaping the current world. But also underlining thatwhile the big and rapidly growing economies have thefinance, know-how and capacity to receive and toinvest significant sums. GREEN ECONOMY: FUTURE,FRACTURE POINTS AND FAIRNESS So while some may board the high speed train to futureGreen Growth, others may be left at the platformwithout a ticket. What are the prospects for smallBelow: New York's stockexchange040SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSisland states and for many smaller economies oncontinents such as Africa, Latin America and Asia? Many of these still require pre-investment assistanceand capacity building if they are to also enjoyeconomic growth, and more importantly sustainableGreen Growth. Business, in partnership with the UN,governments and public finance houses has animportant role to play in assisting the realisation of afairer and more equitable world. It also has a vested interest in seeing markets for low-carbon, high-tech investments flourish everywhere andnot just in a few nations. A vested interest too in seeingthe sustainable and more intelligent management ofincreasingly scarce natural or nature-based resources- these will be constraints over the coming decades, ifnot addressed. UN Photo/Evan Schneider
" "SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS041THE BLUNT ANDLIMITED MARKETSOF THE PAST AREUNLIKELY TO SUSTAIN SIX BILLION PEOPLE,RISING TO NINEBILLION BY 2050SOME LITMUS TESTS FOR CLIMATEAND CANCUN In respect to climate change, all eyes are now on theUN climate convention meeting in Cancun, Mexico.What are some of the elements that can assist inensuring the meeting is a success?The US$30 billion-worth of pledges need to beoperationalised and operationalised fast. UNEP,working with nine leading modeling centres, estimatesthat there remains a gap between the pledges andintentions linked to the Copenhagen Accord and thescience. Emissions in 2020 need to be somewhere just over 40billion tones (Gt) of CO2 equivalent if we are to realiseemission reductions by 2050 that keep a temperaturerise to 2°C or less. So, this gap needs to be bridgedbetween now and Cancun or in Cancun itself. Optionsinclude some countries increasing their pledgesupwards to bringing sectors such as maritime &shipping and aviation into the carbon and emissiontrading markets. IS BUSINESS OUT IN FRONT? Business, either through persuasion at the politicallevel or through actions on the ground - such asgreening their operations and their supply chains - can contribute to such aims and the widersustainability challenge. Indeed, in some ways, business is out in front. It wassuggested that a failure to secure an internationalregime in Copenhagen would be the death knell for the carbon markets. But the latest assessment of the European emissions trading market shows that despite this and in spite of a fall in emissionslinked with the recession, the markets have provedremarkably resilient. This should strengthen the resolve of otherscontemplating such markets with the ultimate aim ofsecuring a higher carbon price. Indeed, a recentassessment of the proposed Kerry-Graham-LiebermanSenate bill in the United States says that if it wereenacted in full, the emissions trading market therecould be worth over US$250 billion. The price ofcarbon could be over US$30 a tonne between 2013and 2020. GREEN GROWTH - IT IS NOT JUSTCLIMATE CHANGE The role of business and the link between morecreative and intelligent markets and the widersustainability agenda is not confined to climatechange. Towards the end of 2010 - the UN'sInternational Year of Biodiversity - a landmark reportby The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity,hosted by UNEP, will be published. Already some of the figures are emerging: aninvestment of US$45 billion could secure a globalnetwork of protected areas, whose services are worthclose to US$5 trillion annually. A return of 100:1.Some companies are making the business case forinvesting in natural resources whether they be inproductive soils or biodiversity. CLIMATE AND NATURAL RESOURCE SCARCITY - THE DEFININGCHALLENGE Business and its experience will be key as to whethergovernments are persuaded to support new kinds ofmarkets, for example in water and nature-basedservices, that bring value to these natural assets inorder to conserve and sustainably manage them.REDD may be the first, but eventually markets or fundscould transform the economics of other terrestrialecosystems via greater incentives for, for example,sustainable agriculture. And what about marine: there is an urgent need to capture the true value of coastal ecosystems interms of their role as nurseries for fish and coastaldefense, but also for carbon storage. The GreenEconomy is emerging, in part driven by the financialand economic crisis. And in part because of a growing realisation that theblunt and limited markets of the past are unlikely tosustain six billion people, rising to nine billion by2050. From its day-to-day operations, to its ecologicalfootprint and across its supply chains, managingenvironmental risks like climate change and thescarcity of natural resources, will increasingly define acompany's business and political life in the 21stcentury. Sustainable development is not a choice, butan imperative and the only course possible in our 21stcentury world. A Green Economy will happen, either by design ordefault. I am sure that any prudent and forward-looking business man or woman, would back a well-thought out, design-led path rather than the alternateone. By its very nature, pressing the default buttonrather than the design route will be disruptive,unpredictable and bad for business. nThis article is excerpted from a speech titled"Opportunities and Uncertainties: Towards GreenEconomic Recovery", delivered by Achim Steiner,UNEP Executive Director, at the Opening of theBusiness 4 the Environment Summit in Seoul, on 22April 2010.