Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Green jobs and pro-poor policy

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and Nobel laureate and former US vice-president Al Gore argue for ‘green growth’ and pro-poor policies:

What we need is both stimulus and long-term investments that accomplish two objectives simultaneously with one global economic policy response – a policy that addresses our urgent and immediate economic and social needs and that launches a new green global economy. In short, we need to make “growing green” our mantra.

First, a synchronised global recession requires a synchronised global res­ponse. We need stimulus and intense co-ordination of economic policy among all main economies.

Second, we need “pro-poor” policies now. In much of the developing world, governments do not have the option to borrow or print money to cushion the devastating economic blows. Therefore, governments in industrialised countries must reach beyond their borders and invest immediately in those cost-effective programmes that boost the productivity of the poorest. Last year, food riots and unrest swept more than 30 countries. Ominously, this was even before September’s financial implosion, which sparked the global recession that has driven a further 100m people deeper into poverty.

This means increasing overseas development assistance this year. It means strengthening social safety nets. It means investing in agriculture in developing countries by getting seeds, tools, sustainable agricultural practices and credit to smallholder farmers so they can produce more food and get it to local and regional markets. Pro-poor policy also means inc­reasing investments in better land use, water conservation and drought-resistant crops to help farmers adapt to a changing climate, which – if not add­ressed – could usher in chronic hunger and malnutrition across large swaths of the developing world.