Green growth and the G20 challenges and opportunities

Will Barker attended the 2012 G20 Summit in Mexico where he represented Griffith University. Will is studying a Bachelor of Law & International Relations.

Abstract 

In June 2012 the G20 will convene in Los Cabos, Mexico. In addition to its traditional agenda of economic and financial issues, the G20 will to address a new topic: “green growth”. Green growth purports to foster economic growth by the promotion of green growth initiatives. The concept of green growth has experienced growing attention in recent years due to its potential to act as an antidote to two of the world’s greatest challenges: the ongoing global economic malaise and the deterioration of the natural environment caused by economic activity.  Its exciting potential is only rivaled by its nebulosity. There is currently no international consensus as to what counts as a green growth initiative. This poses both a challenge and an opportunity for the G20. The challenge is two-fold. First, the challenge will be to demonstrate the G20 is a credible forum to address this environmental issue by committing to concrete action in circumstances where member states have diverse opinions as to what green growth initiatives should look like. Second, it will be to integrate green growth into the G20’s framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth, rather than allow it to become ‘just another’ agenda item. This article argues that by converting existing G20 commitments into green initiatives the G20 can integrate green growth into the ongoing G20 agenda and also ensure concrete action will be take on green growth, even if consensus on an abstract definition of green growth is not forthcoming, thus overcoming both challenges. This will result in an opportunity for the G20: it will be able to contribute to momentum for a political agreement at the Rio+20 Conference as well as allow the major economic powers to coordinate their positions to provide a united front committed to green growth at that conference.

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