UNRISD Conference Addresses Social Dimension of Green Economy

October 2011: The UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) hosted a conference on the theme “Green Economy and Sustainable Development - Bringing Back the Social Dimension,” to discuss the conceptual and operational challenges for sustainable development and the transition towards a green economy. Participants focused on the social implications of environmental challenges and policies, and highlighted the social dimension of sustainable development.

The conference, which took place from 10-11 October 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland, gathered government officials, development practitioners, UN experts, and civil society representatives. The outcomes are expected to inform the preparatory process of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The conference featured panel discussions on: competing development paradigms, including green economy strategies that support the commodification of nature; the challenge of policy coherence such as the interconnections between environmental, economic, and social policies, as well as the role of social policy in attaining sustainable development and climate justice; agency, interests and coalitions, focusing on the power dynamics underlying the green growth agenda; community values, institutions and dynamics, including presentations on the various case studies of local environmental initiatives, highlighting the interaction between citizens/consumers, local institutions, and external interventions; the social construction of markets, addressing the existing governance gap of markets; agriculture and rural development; UN perspectives on the social dimensions of green economy, including efforts by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to address the social dimensions of the green economy; how energy, food production, and environmental conservation schemes implemented as green economy initiatives have affected the livelihoods as well as social and ecological security of rural populations; and future research and directions for Rio+20.[UN-NGLS Press Release] [UNRISD Programme Agenda] [Webpage for Conference]