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Recovery: The Global Green New Deal

[Editor's note: The theme of the Spring 2011 issue of World Policy Journal is “Recovery: Paths Out of the Wilderness.”  We asked experts, policymakers, and writers from around the world to answer this question:  “What is the most innovative approach to sustaining the global economic recovery?”] 

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Green Revolution dramatically increased crop yields and food production in wheat, maize and rice. It was an achievement that would have been impossible without considerable financial support from governments, international institutions, and philanthropists. Yet, 40 years later, we need a second Green Revolution for other food crops, especially water-stressed food agriculture in arid areas. The key is finding a way to finance it that will sustain, rather than threaten, the global economic recovery.

That is the goal of the Global Green New Deal proposed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in early 2009. The GGND will accelerate economic recovery and job creation while addressing sustainable development, climate change and food security challenges. The program would be built around massive, multilaterally cross-subsidized public investments in renewable energy and small-holder food agriculture in developing countries.

The GGND proposal has already inspired and encouraged several countries—most notably South Korea and China—to channel stimulus packages towards investment in renewable energy, public transport, waste management, and integrated water management. However, the bulk of the work has yet to be done—or even started. The response to the food crisis needs to combine short-term relief with longer-term investments in sustainable and sustained growth in food production.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a Malaysian, is the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development at the United Nations.

Photo courtesy of flickr user cswtwo.

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