Speaking to the World Economic Forum 2014 Annual Meeting of the New Champions, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has laid out a prescription for how governments can drive the green agenda. Among her key points:
- As prime minister of a country that for decades has worked towards a green society, I am fully aware that the green transition is not an easy task. In order to succeed, governments, the business community and citizens need to join hands. To educate and innovate together.
- The global financial crisis, the mounting pressure on the world’s resources and the immense climate and environmental challenges have placed sustainability on top of the international agenda.
- Sustainability is an investment in future economic growth, new market opportunities and job creation. And it is an important social parameter to secure a more harmonious society in which economic growth is not causing polluted air, water and soil.
- Governments can act as a driver for the green transition setting up conducive legal and political frameworks and introducing economic incentives and standards that promote innovation, develop new markets and build global champion industries.
- Governments can lead in decoupling economic growth and energy consumption, reconciling economic growth with ambitious green policies, and encouraging education and innovation among producers and consumers.
Key elements of a government drive towards a greener economy which she identifies include:
- adopting a long-term political vision.
- creating broad alliances and political support which have led to long-term predictability for a green transition.
- reconciling economic growth and sustainable development in an inclusive manner. Denmark has established so-called growth teams to strengthen the competitiveness of Danish enterprises. Representatives of business, research, public sector and other stakeholders join hands to discuss and recommend concrete initiatives to improve the conditions for green growth.
- engaging the business community is a top priority for the Danish government. By applying comprehensive policy frameworks, the Danish government has nudged Danish companies out of their comfort zones – into a greener and more innovative direction. Several Danish companies are today among the frontrunners in the development, testing and promotion of green technologies and sustainable solutions.
- setting up framework conditions. The private sector can come up with concrete solutions, innovation and deliver results. That is why the Danish government initiative, the Global Green Growth Forum, where China is one of our partner countries, engages leaders from governments, businesses and civil society in green growth partnerships.
- engaging consumers. Promoting a green society requires sustainable consumption. Also here a joint effort from government and businesses is important. Through information and education, governments can foster a green-growth mindset. Through innovative business models, companies can promote consumer demand for sustainability. And through new valuation methodology, investors can encourage a more sustainable economy. We have seen broad public support and engagement throughout generations and across political beliefs. And we continue to see new citizen-led initiatives to reduce and reuse waste.
The full speech is available at http://forumblog.org/2014/09/the-green-revolution/