Friday, October 4, 2013

Environmental Implications of Three Types of Economies: Brown, Blue and Green

In a preceding post we reviewed four economic systems and their implications for the environment. In this post we take a look at three color coded economic forms and their environmental implications. It should be stated that most modern economies are an admixture of all three.

Here is a review of three types of economies: Brown, Blue and Green

Brown Economy

A brown economy is one in which economic growth is largely dependant on environmentally destructive forms of activity, especially fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. One of the byproducts of this form of economy are massive levels of climate change causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions profile, (including carbon dioxide and methane). Air and water pollution are also a defining feature of this type of economy with their concomitant adverse impacts on a wide range of life forms. In this system economic development depends on finite resources and the level of environmental pollution generated is severe threatening the health of people and the planet.

Blue Economy

The blue economy, also called marine economy involves industries that recognize and augment the clean and healthy ocean, coastal, and other aquatic ecosystems. This form of economy acknowledges that water is crucial to our financial, biological, cultural, and spiritual well-being. Although some have coined the term to apply to a comprehensive sustainability regime, in the context of this review, the blue economy primarily focuses on managing oceans, waterways and water resources. The seas cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and they are a rich repository of marine life, sea-based food, sea-embedded minerals, and coral reefs. Oceans are under threat from pollution, warming and acidification. In a blue economy form we are tasked to create more livelihood for an increasing number of people with better management of finite water resources. This type of economy implies water stewardship which entails less pollution and less waste as well as greater efficiency. Specific economic activities associated with this type of economy include, sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism, recreation, and uses of ocean and coastal space that do not result in direct use or consumption of resources, coastal restoration, protection, and adaptation and offshore renewable energy development.

Green Economy

The UN succinctly defines the green economy as one that “carries the promise of a new economic growth paradigm that is friendly to the earth’s ecosystems and can also contribute to poverty alleviation.” As I wrote in a United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) report on the green economy (page 16) strategies for economic growth and environmental stewardship can complement one another. UNEP defines a green economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” This definition is in line with the three pillars of development: economic, social and environmental. The green economy is premised on the notion that of economic production, minimum of emissions, less resources consumption and environmental costs. Part of this approach involves recycling natural resources in a model of economic development that can merge the economical with environmental and social benefits. In its simplest essence the green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. The green economy is based on sustainable development and a knowledge of ecological economics.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

Related Posts
Primer on Four Economic Systems and their Environmental Implications
Understanding Sustainability: Forging a Comprehensive Definition
Sustainability (Sustainable) Defined
Sustainable Business as Defined by Paul Hawken
Sustainable Development Defined
Sustainable Production Defined

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