Britain to push for greener measure of economic progress

At a UN conference in June 2012, the UK will call for a greener global economy and a new way to measure economic progress that takes environmental factors into account

Setting out the UK’s ambitions for Rio+20 – the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development taking place from June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – the environment secretary Caroline Spelman said the UK will focus on developing new sustainability goals. The conference marks 20 years from the original Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Mrs Spelman pledged to make Britain a driving force on issues such as food security, water, and access to sustainable energy.

The UK is also proposing a new indicator of progress in government accounts, called GDP+, which on top of charting GDP (gross domestic product), also measures and accounts for the value of a country’s natural resources and the wellbeing of its people.

In a speech to environmental groups and businesses on 9 February, Mrs Spelman said: “Our economic and environmental security relies on ambitious outcomes from Rio+20… I will be pushing for real progress on new goals to set us on the right path to a greener and more sustainable world… We want to see countries acknowledging the true value of nature to our economy, by reflecting its worth in their accounts.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra), said that the UK is already leading the way through initiatives such as assessing people’s wellbeing through new questions in household surveys, and the Natural Capital Committee, which has been set up to take stock of the country’s natural resources.