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What Green Economy? Diverse Agendas, Their Tensions and Potential Futures

Les Levidow

July 2014


The 'green economy' has become a prominent global concept for debating desirable futures, while recasting or marginalising 'sustainable development'. The dominant agenda promotes state incentives for private-sector solutions through two parallel approaches: A techno-environmental Keynesian agenda attempts to stimulate eco-innovation which can become more resource-efficient and economically competitive. And a green markets agenda seeks to make natural resources more economically visible, as a basis to alleviate poverty.

Like sustainable development, green economy agendas claim to redress the socially unequal access to natural resources. These claims have been widely questioned, thus generating extra remedial proposals, opposition and alternative frameworks. The debate features diverse agendas for co-constructing 'green' with 'economy', especially for assigning economic value to natural resources or environmental burdens. Struggles over potential futures take the form of disputes over defining, allocating and valuing resources – i.e. what counts for a 'green economy'.

Read IKD Working Paper 73 - What Green Economy?

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