Related concepts: Green economy, green growth and low-carbon development
Whilst the concept of green economy has only recently gained significant international attention, green economy policies have been discussed and analysed for some decades by economists and academics, particularly in the fields of environmental and ecological economics. Green economy policy measures have also been discussed at length in international negotiations, including UNCED in Rio in 1992. For example, the Rio Declaration included principles promoting the internalisation of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments (Principle 16) as well as eliminating unsustainable consumption and production (Principle 8). Agenda 21 further elaborated on these principles and called for the development of national strategies for sustainable development incorporating measures for integrating environment and development, providing effective legal and regulatory frameworks, making effective use of economic instruments and market and other incentives, and establishing systems for integrated environmental and economic accounting (Chapter 8).

Ten years later, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPoI) also identified the need to change the way societies produce and consume, and called for the development of a 10-year framework of programmes for sustainable consumption and production. The First (Marrakech, June 2003) and the Second (San Jose, September 2005) International Expert Meetings emphasised the need to promote social and economic development within the carrying capacity of the environment, de-link economic growth and environmental degradation through improving efficiency and sustainability in the use of resources and production processes, and reduce resource degradation, pollution and waste .

The Rio Conference in 1992 also produced the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which has involved prolonged debate regarding potential economic, regulatory and market-based measures to address climate change through low-carbon development. In recent negotiations under this Convention, it has been agreed that Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) that adopt appropriate policy measures for low carbon development are indispensible for achieving sustainable development.
Copyright United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs