India pioneers global plan to green economy

October 28th, 2010 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

By Joydeep Gupta
Nagoya (Japan), Oct 28 (IANS) India will be one of two countries to pioneer “a global partnership that will fundamentally change the way governments value their ecosystems”, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick announced here Thursday.

“We are here to do something that none has done before,” Zoellick declared at a press conference on the sidelines of the Oct 18-29 UN biodiversity summit. That something is to ensure that countries take into account the services provided by their ecosystems - the value of the water stored underground because a forest allows more water to seep in, for example.

“This is a concept now widely accepted,” Zoellick said. “Now we have to take the valuations provided by projects like TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) to ministries of finance and government economic agencies around the world.”

If this is actually done, it may change the very classification of rich and poor countries. Zoellick said a recent study has shown ecosystems provide services worth $44 trillion, of which $29 trillion are in countries now classified as “developing”.

“Our new partnership is to mainstream natural resources accounting into economic planning, starting with Colombia, India and then Mexico,” Zoellick said. “We can overcome poverty only when we take ecosystem values into account.”

Addressing the press conference with Zoellick, India’s environment ministry secretaryVijai Sharma said: “This will plug deficiencies in traditional accounting systems. India’s national biodiversity action plan has already incorporated some of these concepts.

“In our country, we are moving towards a rights-based system of governance, as shown by the Forest Rights Act. Ninety percent of our projects under the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme are for rejuvenation of natural resources. Apart from environment, there are the questions of health and safety we must look into. We have to build in all these angles and this partnership will help us do that.”

UN Environment Programme chief Achim Steiner said: “The link between economic policy, natural capital and human wellbeing is being increasingly understood. The idea of this project is to make the invisible, visible, and to ensure that we have accounted for the economy of the poor.”

Two hundred of fifty years ago, Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” and established modern economics. Zoellick said: “We hope to write a companion to Adam Smith - the natural wealth of nations.”

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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