The activities of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2009-2010
| Doc. 12360
| 24 September 2010
- (Former) Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs
- Rapporteur :
- Mr Axel FISCHER,
- Reference to committee: standing
mandate. Reporting committee: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development.
See Doc. 12340.
Contribution approved by the committee on 17 September 2010. 2010 - Fourth part-session
The Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and
Regional Affairs congratulates the Committee on Economic Affairs
and Development and in particular its rapporteur, Mr Moscoso del
Prado Hernández, on the report concerning the activities of the
OECD in 2009-2010. This is a comprehensive report that addresses major
issues affecting global economic prospects and also deals with the
OECD's specific areas of activity.
However, greater attention should be paid to environmental
questions, since the very future of civilisation depends on how
we succeed in preserving the environment today.
2 Proposed amendment to the provisional draft resolution
In the provisional draft resolution, insert the following
“1. The enlarged Assembly welcomes the work done by the OECD
in the environmental field and is pleased to note a growing awareness
that emergence from the economic crisis depends on the development
of new environmentally friendly sources of growth.
2. In this connection, it hails the launch of the Green Growth
Strategy, which pinpoints the principal obstacles to be overcome
in order to foster strong and ecologically sustainable economic
growth and which simultaneously offers policymakers practical tools
for making the transition to a greener economy.
3. The enlarged Assembly stresses the need for the rapid adoption
of tangible measures, in particular with regard to the reform of
environmentally harmful subsidies (for instance, for fossil fuels),
the elimination of barriers to trade in environmental goods and
services, support for innovation (in accordance with the principle of
precaution applied to the development of all new technologies whose
environmental effects are not yet known for certain) and the dissemination
of clean technologies and harmonisation of means of action at the international
4. It proposes devising new tools for measuring well-being,
no longer focusing on material well-being alone but also taking
into account the quality of the environment and the quality of life.
In this connection, it refers to Recommendation 1885 (2009) on drafting
an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights concerning
the right to a healthy environment, and recommends that the Committee
of Ministers take all the necessary measures to ensure that this
instrument is drawn up as soon as possible.
5. At the same time, the enlarged Assembly stresses the need
to reach an international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions,
so that the largest possible number of countries is committed to
achieving a substantial reduction."
3 Explanatory memorandum
1 As already mentioned in the report of the Committee
on Economic Affairs and Development, the strategic response to the
economic crisis has three main themes: stronger growth, fairer growth
and cleaner growth. Moving to a new model of energy and resource
management is indeed the only means of achieving a return to growth
that is really sustainable in the true sense of the word.
2 Mr Moscoso del Prado Hernández's report clearly states that
investments that are harmful to the environment should not be made
simply to support the economy, as they entail hidden costs for future generations.
This essential requirement, on which the very future of society
as we know it depends, could not be better summed up.
3 In his foreword to the interim report on the Green Growth
Strategy (Paris, 27-28 May 2010), the OECD Secretary-General, Mr
Angel Gurría, underlined that the way out of the gravest economic
crisis of our lifetimes depends on the development of new sources
of growth and that two opportunities can be harnessed in particular:
innovation and green growth.
4 This is, moreover, why the Green Growth Strategy was launched.
The OECD has a lengthy experience of tackling environmental issues
from an economic perspective (including in particular climate change, biodiversity,
water, eco-innovation, resource productivity, waste, safety of chemical
products, biotechnology and nanomaterials, transport and agriculture).
The OECD horizontal work programme on sustainable development lays
the foundations for co-ordinated analysis of economic, environmental
and social concerns and also aims to integrate the long-term perspective
into all of the organisation's activity programmes. In the context
of its Annual Meeting of Sustainable Development Experts, the OECD
ensures that due attention is being paid to sustainable development
by reviewing and assessing statistics and policies on a country
by country basis, which enables it to propose the policies of the
future. The experts also supervise specific sustainable development
projects, such as determining methods of measuring sustainable development,
and examine good governance practices for institutionalising sustainable
development and for national sustainable development strategies.
5 According to Mr Gurría, the OECD, armed with this experience,
must now have recourse to a broad, integrated mix of policy tools
in order to achieve strong green growth.
6 The OECD Green Growth Strategy identifies the key barriers
that must be overcome and offers decision makers practical tools
for securing the shift to a greener economy.
7 Green growth today constitutes the only way of pursuing economic
growth and development while preventing environmental degradation,
biodiversity loss and unsustainable resource use. It builds on initiatives launched
by many countries keen to achieve more sustainable development and
aims to identify cleaner sources of growth, while seizing the opportunities
to develop new green industries, technologies and jobs and managing
the structural changes associated with the transition to a greener
8 New instruments will be needed to measure well-being no longer
solely in material terms, but also taking into account environmental
quality, the scarcity of natural resources and the quality of life.
Here, it is particularly important to support the Parliamentary
Assembly's Recommendation 1885 (2009) on drafting an additional protocol
to the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the right
to a healthy environment. This new protocol will be perfectly consistent
with Principle 1 of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference
on the Human Environment of 1972 (the Stockholm Declaration), which
states: "Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and
adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that
permits a life of dignity and well-being."
9 Green growth must therefore be regarded not as a mere short-term
response to the crisis, but as part and parcel of a complex transforming
dynamic for production processes and consumer behaviour.
10 Under the strategy's action framework, the implementation
of green growth policies should contribute to greater economic integration,
technological co-operation and reduced pressure on global non-renewable environmental
resources. Among the tangible measures to be taken, it is important
to make polluters or those who overuse scarce resources pay through
taxes, natural resource charges or tradable permit systems. It is also
essential to institute a complete ban on certain activities (such
as the production and use of toxic chemicals).
11 Innovation and the spread of clean technologies will be critical
factors in greening economies. Investment in environmentally friendly
technologies can become a new source of growth in itself and offer
the twofold advantage of simultaneously fostering protection of
the environment and economic recovery. To encourage innovation,
it is necessary to provide incentives for firms to engage in green
activities and also to intervene through the funding of basic research.
It is, moreover, interesting to note that, when the oil price exceeds
US$30 per barrel, technological innovation by businesses begins
to focus on renewable energy rather than fossil fuel use.
12 The energy sector must be reoriented towards more environmentally
friendly solutions. It is above all important to develop and deploy
new renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies.
It is self-evident that the principle of precaution must be
applied to new technologies which are not yet fully mastered and
of which the environmental effects are not yet known for certain.
Examples that can be cited include GMOs (already considered in Parliamentary
Assembly Resolution 1419
, and moreover the subject of new work under way
within the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and
Regional Affairs) and above all nanotechnologies, which the same
committee will probably address in a future report. Nanotechnologies
presently constitute a key area of advanced research in physics,
electronics, chemistry and also biology. However, little data is
available on the environmental behaviour of nanomaterials and their possible
long-term impacts. Nanoparticles diffuse very easily in the atmosphere
and can travel great distances before they deposit. They can, for
example, be found in surface water, following run-off or leaching
from contaminated soil, the deposition of nanoparticles that have
travelled through the air or accidental leakage. Currently, no information
is available on their degradation capacity. For this reason, nanotechnologies,
albeit very promising, should continue to be developed solely on
condition that their potential environmental risks are better understood
and taken into account.
14 Eliminating the current obstacles to the transition to greener
economies is unquestionably of crucial importance, in particular
the reform of environmentally harmful subsidies, the elimination
of barriers to trade in environmental goods and services and the
greater harmonisation of means of action. The OECD's interim report
of May 2010 already emphasised the need to reform environmentally
harmful fossil fuel subsidies.
15 Reducing greenhouse gas emissions ranks as a priority among
the measures to be taken to achieve sustainable development and
combat the effects of climate change. In this connection, the committee welcomes
the call by Germany, France and the United Kingdom to increase the
European Union target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 30%
of 1990 levels by 2020. Reaching an agreement that commits a large enough
number of countries to guarantee sufficient progress in this area
can now be seen to be absolutely essential. The committee hopes
that the World Summit on Climate Change to be held in Cancún, Mexico,
from 29 November to 10 December 2010, will make tangible progress
in this direction.
16 The committee also welcomes the OECD Global Forum on Environment,
which will take place in Mechelen, Belgium, in October 2010, and
hopes that the proceedings will give fresh impetus to the OECD's activities
fostering environmental protection and sustainable development.