A ‘green’ economic system must promote social equity - Equitable, healthy and decent jobs and livelihoods.
The Rio+20 Steering Committee for Women has just isued a paper outlining a gender perspective on the 'Green Economy'. The paper notes, "A truly sustainable ‘green economy’ would involve economic development that takes place within the limits of nature, and ensures a fair distribution of resources among all countries and social groups - as well as between men and women. Social equity and environmental justice must remain at the heart of sustainable development, and the outcomes of the Rio+20 UN conference in 2012.
Environmental conservation is critical for maintaining the earth’s ability to continue to support life, and human livelihoods. As countries confront the challenges of providing food, fuel, shelter, health care and employment for growing populations, their governments must find ways to preserve vital ecosystems and limit the disruptions of climate change, and to manage the world’s natural resources in an equitable manner, with an emphasis on human rights, gender equality, and environmental justice.
Twenty years after the first Rio conference, great inequities remain. While the wealthy consume more and more natural resources and are responsible for increasing levels of environmental damage, the poor are suffering from degradation of their agricultural land, forests, water supplies and biodiversity, and alteration of natural weather cycles due to climate change.
Social and economic inequities are especially hard on women and children as they form the majority of the world’s poor. The UN estimates that approximately 70% of the 1.3 billion people living on less than one dollar a day are women, and these figures are rising with current food, fuel and financial crises.