Presenting the EU executive's views to the press, Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik insisted that the Rio+20 conference should be considered "as a beginning, not as an end in itself".
The communication preparing the ground for the EU's position at the Rio+20 UN Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 was adopted yesterday (20 June).
It outlines objectives and specific actions on the two inter-linked themes of the Rio+20 summit: the transition to a green economy and better global governance for sustainable development.
The document lays the basis for further dialogue between the European Commission, Council and Parliament, individual countries, civil society and business in the run-up to Rio+20, before a consolidated EU position is submitted to the UN later this year (by 1 November).
In addition to ensuring that the agreed vision and goals will be followed through in a systematic manner after the 2012 conference, a 'Green Economy Roadmap' can, according to the Commission, "map out a range of international, regional and national actions with milestones, indicators and targets, as well as mechanisms to monitor overall progress".
The underlying aim of such a global roadmap is to encourage countries to establish strategies for greening their economies, drawing up objectives and timelines for action at national and regional level.
The progress towards a green economy would then be monitored through "key indicators and a globally agreed system for environmental and social accounting," for example by building on the EU's planned regulatory framework for environmental accounts.
Towards global 'green markets'
Overall, yesterday's communication maps out the 'what, how and who' of a transition to a green economy, proposing specific actions that could be implemented at international, national and regional level.
In the 'what' part, the document suggests investing in key resources and natural capital such as water, renewable energy, marine resources, biodiversity and ecosystem services, sustainable agriculture, forests, waste and recycling.
These areas "underpin millions of livelihoods and can help alleviate poverty," and "could become areas for future economic growth and global markets," noted Potočnik.
Indeed, the EU executive suggests that the above resource areas "could become the green economy's key growth markets," underpinning economic development and job creation.
But a number of regulatory and market instruments ('how') such as eco-taxes, tradable permits and environmental subsidies need to be put in place to enable growth in the above areas and ensure predictability and a level-playing field for business, the Commission stressed.
Mobilising public and private financial resources, investing in skills and green jobs and developing indicators that reflect environmental and social progress also feature among tools that can point the way towards a green economy, the EU executive said.