Road to Rio: How WWF’s Green Economy Strategy Would Impoverish The Poor

May 2012 – Green Papers: Issue X

In 1992, at the Rio Earth Summit, the United Nations struck a consensus. Measures to achieve sustainable development must equally reflect environmental, social and economic interests. Ever since that historic meeting, green NGOs and some western aid donors have sought to unpick that consensus. They have consistently put up proposals giving priority to the environment over economic growth. Developing countries, on the other hand, have consistently demanded fidelity to the 1992 consensus. All governments are agreed on the need to expand global trade and reduce trade barriers to increase economic output. Yet WWF instead argues for a “green economy” in which ‘natural capital’ will be managed sustainably. What does that mean? It means a world where “sustainable” not “free” trade is practised. Instead of expanding global markets, WWF wants to “transform” them by enlisting multinational corporations to capture supply chains and drive through them only products which meet WWF’s arbitrary environmental standards. These measures will retard, not enhance, economic growth.

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