Within the framework of Arab regional preparations for Rio +20 conference, and in line with the course followed by the first Rio Summit held in 1992 and the Millennium Development Goals for achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication, ESCWA organized a meeting on “Economic Policies Supporting the Transition to a Green Economy in the Arab Region” in cooperation with the Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan, the UN Environment Program (UNEP), and the League of Arab States.
Rio +20 is the upcoming Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) that will be convened in Rio de Janeiro from 4 to 6 June 2012.
Discussions in the two-day meeting held on 20-21 July 2011 at the UN House- Beirut, revolved around sustainable public procurement, environmental taxation, and green investment incentives. Participants highlighted the need to assist Arab countries in positioning themselves with respect to issues being negotiated at Rio +20, notably in relation to green economy and the institutional framework for sustainable development, and how to translate them at the national level.
Participants urged the need to follow two main tracks when transiting to a green economy. The first track is by fulfilling all environmental requirements before approving new projects; while the second one is by encouraging existing facilities and factories to improve their environmental performance, and providing them with related government assistance in addition to assistance by specialized institutions, within a set timeframe. They called on Arab governments to adopt a green economy, encourage public-private partnerships and establish specialized funds to speed up the process of transition towards a green economy at the national and Arab regional levels, including activating and supporting the Arab Environment Facility.
Participants also stressed the need for specialized organizations, including relevant UN bodies, to provide technical and capacity building support to concerned ministries and agencies, in the area of assessing economic, environmental and social impacts that may result from financial measures having an environmental purpose, prior to their adoption. Participants recommended giving importance to marketing green economy principles and concepts, and clarifying its benefits for sustaining development to all segments of society, including decision-makers, businessmen and individuals.
The meeting was attended by policy makers and representatives from the ministries of finance, economy, planning and environment, and sustainable development departments in the Arab countries, in addition to experts from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Arab Forum for Environment and Development, McMaster University, the University of Manchester, the Lebanese American University, the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, the Central Bank of Lebanon, as well as activists in the field of economic development policies.