Economy must go green to ensure sustainability: says Environment Minister

26 July 2011 | News story

In opening the 14th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation (PIRNC) today in Lami, Fiji, Colonel Samuela Saumatua the Minister for Urban Development, Housing, Local Government and Environment of Fiji emphasized the need for Pacific economies to go green if the region is to ensure its economic viability.

Responding to the existing global pressure to change the current sustainability pattern, in which the economy, environment and social pillars function almost independently to each other, Colonel Saumatua said that the Green Economy concept, if adopted, “holds out much promise” for the region “to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication”.

The Green Economy concept, proposed as one of two significant themes of discussions in next year’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development, promises to fully incorporate the environmental and the social agenda into the current economic discussions.

The Green Economy encourages the economy and environment to work as mutually supportive partners and not as competitors.

Given the high dependency of Pacific Islands on their natural environment, with commodities such as fisheries, timber and tourism dominating many national economies, it would therefore make sense to invest in a green economy, said Colonel Saumatua.

Taholo Kami, Chair of the PIRNC and Regional Director of IUCN Oceania, noted that the Pacific “may not have a choice” when it comes to greening the economy. “For us, without our environment and unique societies, we have little else to offer to the global market

Twenty years after the first Rio meeting in 1992, the world is facing the consequences of ignoring the principles of sustainable development. Today to deal with the consequences, we need a green economy approach”.

In response, the Program Manager of the Islands Ecosystems Program at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Stuart Chape said “we do indeed need a different economic paradigm” but adds that it is not necessarily a new paradigm.

The 'green economy' or the 'blue/green economy' is a repackaging of the principles that we have known for decades that must be put into practice if we are to make sustainable development a reality”.

The Green Economy discussions, including environmental conservation activities undertaken under the PIRNC strategy, continue this week in Lami, Fiji.