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Transition to a Green Economy lacks political will

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Source: Press Secretariat- Samoa

Apia, SAMOA — A call to bring green economy solutions closer to regional contexts has resulted in the first Asia-Pacific Regional High-Level Forum on Green Economy, held in Bangkok Thailand from 10-12 June.

A broad-ranging concept that continues to evolve as needs are identified and interlinked, a ‘Green Economy’ is described by the United Nations as low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. More specifically, growth in employment and income driven by public and private investment in to economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Samoa participated in the Forum and presented national solutions to sustainable development challenges, and heard from other Asia-Pacific countries on their experiences and varying degrees of progress.

Taefu Lemi Taefu, Associate Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, lead Samoa’s delegation at the Forum and delivered a thought-provoking intervention during the panel on enabling policy and regulatory frameworks for a green economy.

“I came here to share some success stories from my country and having heard some presentations this morning and some of the opening addresses, I am very concerned.

“If I can summarise the discussion in one sentence, it’s that Asia-Pacific will not be able to achieve a single goal of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) by Year 2030.

“That is a serious concern.”

Taefu was commenting on the heels of several panel presentations that outlined grim statistics on the Asia-Pacific region, with some senior UN officials stating movement was “going backwards”, exemplified by the fact that despite widespread understanding that action must be taken to mitigate effects of climate change, the Asia-Pacific region is still responsible for 50% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The “pervasive culture of inertia to systemic change”, as described by one Section Chief of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, would ensure that any movement towards sustainable green economic development would not go forward.

“We are still doing it the old way,” said Taefu.

“We are still burning fossil fuels, we are still polluting the planet.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the most polluted countries in the world are within the Asia-Pacific region. Our region.

“And the most seriously affected countries, as a result of those pollutions, are in the Asia-Pacific region.

“So where do we draw the line and find the balance?

The Associate Minister went on to pinpoint a pack of political will, as one of the inhibitors of green growth.

“When I was first asked to contribute to this panel, I saw the composition of the panel and they were mostly if not all Ministers.

“Unfortunately not all of them are here. A demonstration of the lack of political will.

“The topic this morning is about political will. The legal framework that enables and advances the cause of green economy.

“Where are our leaders?

Taefu went on to share Samoa's progress, highlighting the holistic approach taken by government which has resulted in the decision to establish a Ministry for Climate Change. He also pinpointed the need for more capacity building for Parliamentarians across the region, as their awareness of Green Economy matters are crucial in the development of policies and legal pathways towards green growth.

The Forum - one of five regional meets on Green Economy - held at the UN Headquarters in Bangkok, was attended by several UN entities, climate financing groups, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions, government representatives and green economy experts.