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Green economy

Green Economy Related Concepts

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defined a green economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one, which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. Other definitions have been proposed by various stakeholders, including some governments and coalition groups, but they generally describe the same core idea” (ECE/FAO, 2018)

“A green economy is a broad-ranging policy agenda and a tool to support the achievement of sustainable development, with an emphasis on aligning economic goals to social and environmental ones. The green economy agenda recognizes the potential of new sustainable technologies and green sectors to become the engine of a new development pathway”.

The circular economy and the bioeconomy are two concepts related to the green economy, which can be defined in the following way:

The circular economy is a concept with various origins and definitions[1]. It focuses on the minimization of waste through resource-efficiency, reusing and recycling. At the core is the concept of closed-loop systems in which all raw materials are recaptured as a response to both growing resource scarcity and waste management challenges. In 2015, the European Commission adopted a “Circular Economy Package” as one its major policy initiatives[2]. A circular economy supports the transformation and development of the industry and infrastructure towards sustainable consumption and production (SCP). UNEP (2015)[3]  has recognized a circular economy as one of the key components of an inclusive green economy”.

The bioeconomy (…) also responds to concerns about growing scarcity of resources, but in this case it focuses only on biological resources, such as those from agriculture, forestry and fisheries. It emphasizes a transition towards an optimal and sustainable use of renewable biological resources, as materials and bio-energy. The European Commission adopted a Bioeconomy Strategy in 2012, which focuses on innovation and technology development[4]. The pursuit of a sustainable bioeconomy can also be seen as contributing to SCP, and hence a green economy. Taking a simple perspective, the bioeconomy can be seen as addressing the biomass-based sectors of a green economy, while the circular economy is concerned with the more abiotic-based sectors of a green economy, such as industry and manufacturing”.

Reference: ECE/FAO 2018, Measuring the Value of Forests in a Green Economy, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in progress

[3] Uncovering Pathways Towards an Inclusive Green Economy: A Summary for Leaders. Nairobi, Kenya: UNEP

The forest sector, based on a renewable resource, provides a variety of goods and services. Apart from economic values, such as provision of wood and non-wood products, sustainably managed forests have important environmental and social values, as they provide services such as climate change mitigation; biodiversity conservation; protection against erosion; watershed maintenance and employment in rural areas.

In a green economy, the forest sector while suppling wood and non-wood forest products as well as services, it creates revenue and livelihoods, and maintains healthy forest ecosystem services in the context of a changing climate. Forest sector governance systems take into full account all the forest ecosystem functions and forest policies are adjusted to reach the goals of sustainable development.

“Because of its specific characteristics, as a sector dependent on a multifunctional renewable resource that provides many goods and services, which are not marketed in a conventional economy”[1], the forest sector is influenced by, and should play an important role in a green economy. The green economy concept also offers opportunities to the forest sector in the ECE region. Therefore, the ECE Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry (COFFI) and the FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC) developed an action plan for the forest sector in a green economy to support the sector’s “greatest possible contribution to a green economy”[2]. The Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy (RAP) was adopted by “Metsä2013”, the joint session of the Committee and the Commission, held in Rovaniemi, Finland, from 9 to 13 December 2013. 

The RAP was prepared under the auspices of the COFFI and the EFC. It was developed on the basis of an open consultation with member States and stakeholders, consolidated by the joint ECE/FAO secretariat and reviewed by a first stakeholder meeting in May 2011. At their joint session in Antalya, Turkey, in October 2011, the Commission and the Committee welcomed the Action Plan and requested that the secretariat gather further inputs during a second stakeholder meeting, which took place in March 2012. The 70th session of COFFI in October 2012 decided to organize a special session with the EFC, in 2013, to complete the Action Plan draft. 

The special session of the Committee with the Commission was held on 17 and 18 June 2013 in Geneva. The inputs from the special session were then reflected in a revised version, which was circulated in September 2013 among the possible actors cited in the Action Plan, so that they can confirm their willingness to participate in the implementation of relevant activities.

[2]  Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy overall goal

In December 2013, at the joint session of the ECE Committee on Forests and Forest Industry (COFFI) and the FAO European Forestry Commission (EFC), member States adopted the Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy.

The Rovaniemi Action Plan proposes an overall vision, strategies and areas of activity to enhance the transition of the forest sector in the ECE region towards a green economy. It outlines concrete actions to support regional and national strategies that enhance the contribution of the forest sector to a green economy and describes how the forest sector in the ECE region could lead the way towards the green economy at the global level.

For each area of activity, it proposes specific actions, and identifies potential actors, who might contribute to achieving its objectives. It is not a binding work plan, nor does it contain prescriptive recommendations to Governments, international organizations or stakeholders, who are free to participate, or not, as they wish.

Download the Rovaniemi Action Plan in English, French and Russian here:
- Rovaniemi Action Plan
- Plan d'action Rovaniemi
- Рованиемийский План
More information can be found on the Rovaniemi Action Plan webpage.
Mid-Term Review of the Rovaniemi Action Plan

The Joint ECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section undertook the mid-term review of the Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy between March 2017 and March 2018.

Report: Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy. Mid-term review.

More information about the mid-term review process can also be found on the Rovaniemi Action Plan webpage.

Meetings related to the Rovaniemi Action Plan

Workshop on the Mid-Term Review of the Rovaniemi Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy, Geneva, 13 - 14 February 2018
Workshop on measuring the value of forests in a green economy, Geneva, 21 October 2016
Transition to the Green Economy, Bratislava, Slovakia, 6 - 7 September 2016

Towards a Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development: Practical Tools for the Forest Sector, Batumi, Georgia, 9 June 2016
Metsä2013 Joint session of the ECE Timber Committee and the FAO European Forestry Commission, Rovaniemi, Finland, 09 - 13 December 2013
Special Session of the ECE Timber Committee with the FAO European Forestry Commission, Geneva, 17 - 18 June 2013
70th session of UNECE Timber Committee, Geneva, 16 - 19 October 2012
Second stakeholder meeting on the ECE/FAO Action Plan for the Forest Sector in a Green Economy, Geneva, 26 March 2012
Orman2011 Joint session of the ECE Timber Committee and the FAO European Forestry Commission, Antalya, Turkey 10 - 14 December 2011
Stakeholders meeting Action Plan on Forests and the Green Economy, Geneva, 10 May 2011
Policy Forum on The Forest Sector and the Green Economy, Geneva, 15 October 2010
Seminar on Environmental governance towards Green Economy, Geneva, 15-17 February 2010

For further information on this work, please contact Ms Alicja Kacprzak Forestry Officer at the UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section.