Ladies en Gentlemen,
The world is on fire. We are facing an unprecedented combination of
crises: the financial/economic, the food and the climate crisis. They have serious impacts on the lives of billions of people worldwide.
These crises all find their roots in perverse incentives in our economy. We have lived on credit without proper security. As a result we are now faced with very high costs of repairing the damage.
For financial systems this repair has commenced quickly. Similar determination and speed is required when it comes to the disruption of our ecosystems and climate.
Yes, it is terrifying to witness how many people loose their jobs and companies go bankrupt in a very short period of time. And we don’t even see the end of the crisis yet. But history has learned that economic crises are cyclic and thereby reversible. However, beyond a certain point in time, there is no longer a bail out for climate change or loss of^ biodiversity and natural resources.
Therefore we should align the economic crisis with the ecological crisis and accelerate progress towards a green economy. Focus should be on job creation and sustainability. UNEPs Green New Deal initiative illustrates the potential for accelerating a green economy. I welcome that initiative. In addition I have three main remarks.
First. It is time to act immediately. Decisions are being taken at this moment in countries all over the world, also in my own country the Netherlands. We don’t have time to wait 1,5 or two years for the results of studies. We have a unique ^window of opportunity now. We already know that a green economy can create green jobs. And we already know that the price of products should reflect the real costs, including the ecological impact of producing and discarding the product, here or elsewhere. What is needed is to make these notions operational and put them into practice now, both at national and international level. Within a month time UNEP should articulate a targeted set of choices in view of a Green New Deal.
Secondly, we need to advocate this Green New Deal action list in key decision making forums. It is relatively easy amongst Environment Ministers to agree what needs to be done. But the important economic decisions are taken elsewhere. So I would like to encourage the Executive Director and others to take this initiative to the very heart of economic decision making. The upcoming G20 meeting presents, for instance, an opportunity for that.
Thirdly. Our response should be targeted. Let’s take short term actions that contributes to economic recovery and fully advance the benefits for the environment. And at the same time let’s generate the investments and finance needed to shape a ^sustainable economy for the long term. If we will not do so, we will be facing future costs that are substantially higher than the costs of acting now. This message should resonate with Ministers of Finance who always champion cost-effectiveness and not passing on public debts to future generations.
In conclusion: The world is in turmoil. In times of crises we should rethink traditional economic ideas. We cannot continue to lend without security and maintain our perverse incentives. Such practices endanger the stability of our planet and the prosperity of billions. Like Einstein said: The world will not evolve from its current state by using the same kind of knowledge that brought it to this state. Let us therefore strike a New Green Deal. Greening the economy simply is sound economic and fiscal policy.