Recent Posts

The Many Roads to Our Common Future

At the UNEP Switch-Asia SCP conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Student Reporter Mas Dino Radin sat down with Dr Magnus Bengtsson, Director of Sustainable Consumption and Production Research at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), to tackle the issues surrounding implementing SCP policies in the developing, as juxtaposed with the developed world. (more…)

Asia to Take the Lead towards a Sustainable Future: Pipedream or a Possible Reality?

Like many buzzwords, sustainable development can mean a variety of things depending on who is using it and how. A quick Google search (as well as asking experts) would reveal the same: the definitions might not differ that much, but the implications vary vastly, ultimately implying that there really is no one way towards sustainable development. Among the varying opinions that exist out there, some suggest that the developed bloc (such as the U.S. or the European Union) should take charge in the matter. However, there seems to be a growing trend nowadays that looks at Asia to take a more leading role in paving the way for a sustainable future. This subject was at the forefront during one of the panel discussions at the UNEP SWITCH-Asia Conference on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in November 2012. The question then is what makes Asia so special when it comes to hoping for a more sustainable future?

The Path Not Taken: Following Unconventional Wisdom in Economics

Student Reporter Adam Wong interviewed Dr. Steve Keen, Professor of Economics and Finance at the University of Western Sydney, on his new but controversial economic ideas in sustainability and economic modeling. Economics has always been one of the main forces of human development and in this new era of resources depletion and financial instability, this is no different. Conventional economic ideas continue to play a vital role in helping our governments and societies to make decisions that improve our well-being. However, Dr. Keen is against the conventional ideas of orthodox economics and he views the economic world completely differently from neoclassical economists. Economics cannot grow forever

‘Green must become grey growth,’ Dr. Keen pointed out in his presentation. Our economic growth cannot be infinite, he said, even with advances in technology and if we continue to follow the current mindset of neoclassical economists.

A Universal Diet – Can the Same Sustainable Development Plans Work for Emerging Economies?

‘Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.’ William Ruckelshaus, the former Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, made this famous statement in BusinessWeek in 1990. Twenty years later, we are still seeking the right ‘diet’ for sustainable development. While the recent developments in the global dialogue on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and resource efficiency have helped create a better “diet plan”, the question remains: could it work for all economies? First, let’s have a look at some of the hottest items in our new sustainable development diet. At the World Resources Forum 2012 held in Beijing, China, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Dr. Mohan Munasinghe was one of those tackling the topic.

Young Dreamers Take Action: New Ways of Financing and Capacity Building in Indonesia

There was a young face sitting at the panel in one of the sessions at the UNEP Sustainable Consumption and Production in Asia conference. With no name in the conference agenda or on the table, there were no clues as to her identity. While everyone was still wondering who she was, she started her presentation on new models of microfinancing and capacity building for socio-eco-preneurs (innovative entrepreneurs who minimize or eliminate negative ecological and socio-cultural impacts when developing goods and services for profit). Given that the attendees were here for both practical and innovative solutions, Vrilly Rondonuwu, along with her three colleagues, Idda Mahbubah, Adie Nugroho and Airin Azizah did not fail to deliver as they represented Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Indonesia to a captivated audience. These young people’s main objective is to create a sustainable financing and capacity building model for Indonesia by involving multiple stakeholders, which include financial institutions, banks, corporations, and socio-eco-preneurs.

Can Developing Asia Make The Switch?

In the restrooms of the Plaza Athénée in Bangkok, Thailand, where the UNEP Switch-Asia Conference on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) took place in November 2012, I noticed I had two choices when it came to drying my hands: paper or cloth. I’ve often alternated between the two but at this time and place, it got me thinking – which one is the more resource heavy option? The paper towel is a single-use commodity, while the cloth towel can be reused after washing it. This experience raised the question of what if the hotel could just buy a product that promises to be good for the environment, whilst delivering the same function – a win-win situation, right? That’s where the Green Public Procurement (GPP) plan comes into play.

Reality Bites: Is the Era of Assumptions Coming to an End for Economists?

Source: Getty Images
DSGE, IS/LM, OLG. If you are a follower of the dismal science, or have come across any news regarding economic modelling, these terms will be somewhat familiar to you. To the rest, they’re just acronyms.

Economics modelling is a funny thing. Instead of actually having specific laws, an all-encompassing model, or a grand unified theory, it has models which need to describe their specific purpose and characteristics through complicated names (and even weirder acronyms). Although not a natural science, economics could gain much by learning how scientists model the natural world.

The UNEP Asia SCP Legacy: “Now It is Time to Take Action”

Despite beginning the UNEP Switch-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production conference with big picture, governance- and thematic-related discussions, the focus slowly narrowed in on the development and implementation of SCP strategies during day two. It is no surprise that panelists have all been in support of “implementing” SCP strategies, but what exactly are these policies? United on Improvements But What About Solutions? One of the more interactive discussions occurred when discussing how green financing and government policy making could help encourage more sustainable production practices. While important areas requiring improvement were recognized, the agreement on implementable solutions showed far less consensus amongst the participants.

Reinventing the Asian Tiger

The first day of the UNEP Switch-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) conference kicked off with all the requisite excitement and enthusiasm that all first days of conferences come packaged with, as the 130 government officials, business leaders, and civil society pioneers congregated at the conference hall of the Plaza Athénée Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. (more…)

Apply to be a Student Reporter at UNEP’s Post Rio Sustainable Consumption and Production Conference in Bangkok, Thailand (Deadline 30 September)

From Rio to Bangkok! After making our mark at the United Nation’s Rio+20 Earth Summit in June, we will send a new team of five Student Reporters to cover UNEP’s  Post Rio Sustainable and Consumption Conference to be held in Bangkok, Thailand between the 12th and 13th of November, 2012. The program is sponsored by UNEP Asia, and will be led by staff writer Andreas Slotte from the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden. Selected candidates are required to arrive on 10th November and stay until 14th November. Candidates must reside or hold citizenship in Asia. The application deadline is 30th September, 2012.