Today, more than ever before, it is vitally important that we adopt a new development model that focuses on people and addresses their real needs. Key priority is to provide responsible policies that will address the security challenges of the 21st century and ensure a better quality of life for every citizen.
The successive food, energy, and financial crises have been compounded and an environmental crisis is also underway. The environmental threats at stake are significant and will affect our prosperity for a long time to come. Adopting more responsible policies to protect our environment will also help us to overcome the socio-economic crisis.
The new development model aims to create wealth by maximising the potential to improve and expand agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, construction, and energy industries. This new development paradigm is in step with global progressive responses to the economic downturn, and will enable Greece to invest in order to keep abreast of future developments.
The scale and complexity of the financial, social and environmental crises we face, demand fundamental changes to our existing model of development. Green Growth - which respects the environment and sees it as a source of growth, rather than a drain on development - is the only feasible and viable solution for Greece.
We must invest in our competitive advantages: in our natural environment, in the creativity and intelligence of our people. Green Growth will make Greece more competitive in the global economy, will create quality jobs, attract important new investments, create new business opportunities, and improve our quality of life. Green Growth will create a robust new production network that will generate wealth for the country, fiscal revenue for the public coffers, employment opportunities and opportunities for young scientists.
The three key priorities for Green Growth are climate & energy, the changing patterns of production and consumption and the conservation of natural resources, priorities all related to the mission of the newly founded Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
Climate & Energy
We must protect our natural assets by making an immediate transition to renewable energy sources, improving energy conservation, and reducing energy consumption. Energy efficiency is a central pillar of the energy policy. Improving energy efficiency is the most environmentally friendly way to provide Greece with energy ‘reserves’. That is why our top priority is energy conservation and investment in renewable energy sources. This should go hand in hand with developing the know-how and technology that will create new jobs and bring added value to our economy.
Changing Patterns of Production and Consumption
Promoting green business provides a dynamic opportunity to add value and create quality jobs. Systems of production and consumption must be capable of rapidly incorporating technological developments. Furthermore, the adoption of green procurement, starting at the public sector, is an opportunity for the greening of processes. The scope is to encourage environmentally friendly entrepreneurship by focusing on the creation of new business activities and quality jobs in the sectors of energy, waste and water management, agriculture and food and by helping existing businesses to adapt to new market conditions while minimising their impact on the environment. Green businesses will be granted easier access to capital and the public sector will switch to using and endorsing eco-friendly products.
Conservation of Natural Resources
The protection of natural environment and water management are vital. Policies for the protection of forests especially those damaged by fires, is also important. Water scarcity and drought are expected to increase as a result of climate change. The aim is to conserve drinking water and implement protection programmes for rivers and lakes. Top priority will also be given to ensure that protected areas can survive and that development is sustainable. Forestry policies must protect our forests and their ecosystems, especially in remote areas where well-managed forests can provide benefits for the local population. We must develop a management plan for each forested area, including detailed maps and a forestry registry for the whole country. Waste management is also of significance importance with focus on a better management and reduction of solid waste, waste recovery, recycling and re-use of materials. An integrated management system will create a market and employment opportunities in research and development, consultancy services, recycling programmes, and the construction and running of waste processing and distribution plants.
Environmental objectives cannot be achieved only through strict regulation, state intervention and legal restrictions. Ecological objectives must be linked to the economy and act as financial incentives. Consumers, businesses and the state must all adapt their behaviour in order to encourage Green Growth. Citizens must have the necessary information and knowledge about which products and services they should buy and how to change their behaviour to reduce their impact on the environment. Businesses must be encouraged to develop new products and services that are less damaging to the environment, but also of higher quality.
The government must play a leading role, especially in the initial implementation of this green development model, setting an example by making the public sector more eco-friendly. In addition, it is the government’s responsibility to educate and inform the public about green initiatives and technologies, as well as to ensure that sustainable development offers equal opportunities for all.
Green Growth is the new development model that can be applied to all sectors in society. It is a multidimensional target for the future. Green Growth is the only way to improve the quality of life and lead us to a sustainable development course.