Greening Household Behaviour: The Role of Public Policy (Gouvernance)
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The topic of my lecture, the importance of governance for sustainable development, is salient for the peoples of Singapore and its neighbours, and indeed for peoples around the world. Singapore has demonstrated from the earliest days of its independence that good governance matters a great deal in getting development results.
Strong vision and leadership at the political level, backed by a high quality public service contributing to the design and execution of policy, has transformed Singapore into the modern, entrepreneurial nation we know it as today. In that process, Singapore has shown an ability to reinvent itself continually to meet new challenges. I note now the debate occurring around the next generation of change for the Singapore model, and believe that this is a healthy process. Singaporeans want to be engaged in shaping their future, and want the government to be more responsive to their immediate needs.
Our world has experienced unprecedented development progress over the last four decades, leading to the global population as a whole being healthier, wealthier, and better educated than ever before. As we approach the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we are within reach of seeing every child enrolled in primary school, and many fewer lives are being lost to poverty, hunger, and disease.
Helen Clark: The Importance of Governance for Sustainable Development
Sustainable development must be about enabling countries to accelerate and sustain that progress. It must be about establishing a trajectory of human development which allows all people to exercise their choices and meet their aspirations, both in this generation and those to come. It must also be about enabling the benefits of development to spread to those left behind in the progress made to date.
This is a key theme of my remarks today. To do so, they will need to confront the inconvenient truths which are so often disguised by aggregate and average figures of progress. Economic and human development progress cannot be sustained if the ecosystems on which they depend are irreparably damaged, and if gross inequity leaves our societies unstable and lacking cohesion.
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Just as the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro set a new direction for our world twenty years ago, so, now, current development models should be re-examined to see what works, why, and where we can and must do better. I agree. Not only is it possible to grow and to include, protect, and conserve at the same time, but also truly equitable and sustainable human development requires that we do so.
Our decisions at the national, regional, and global levels can help restore the global environmental commons, and provide access to the economic means and services which the poor need to expand their choices and opportunities. This is not only, or even mainly, a challenge for developing countries. It is a global challenge.
Charity ethical principles
Clear responsibility rests with countries of the global north, to address their own social fractures, reduce their environmental footprint, and act in a way which supports the development of the global south. I use the opportunity of being here in Singapore, to highlight an essential but under-discussed aspect of what it will take to do so: the importance of active, effective, honest, and fair governance at all levels.
Through our support for countries striving to achieve sustainable development around the world, UNDP observes again and again the importance of such governance for achieving development results. Three reasons could be postulated for that:. First, active governance , which anticipates and responds to the needs of its citizen and evolving development challenges, with deliberate, targeted, and pro-active planning and delivery, is essential to getting the business of development done.
Active and effective governance requires governing institutions which are capable of delivering reliable and quality services where and when they are needed. It requires public administration which can collect revenues honestly, allocate and invest public funds wisely, and manage public goods, including land and other natural resources, for the benefit of all.
That, in turn, spurred national development, creating a virtuous cycle which has given Singapore one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in the world. Second, effective governance is a prerequisite for putting in place the integrated policymaking capacity which is needed to drive sustainable development.
A sustainable development response to the complex and interlinked challenges countries face today demands policymaking which views economic growth, poverty reduction, social development, equity, and sustainability not as competing goals to be traded off against each other, but as interconnected objectives which are most effectively pursued together.
The important realization is that in pursuing one objective, we can either advance, slow, or stall progress in another.
Reducing environmental degradation, for example, can create jobs, and help alleviate poverty. The converse also applies: a degraded environment can undermine the long term economic and social health of a country. To get the wide range of policies moving in the same direction, governments must be able to understand and harness the connections between them. Policy and regulatory frameworks must also be designed to attract and use finance and new technologies in ways which generate sustainability and meet the needs of citizens, including the poorest and most vulnerable.
Achieving this puts a premium on having a capable public service and effective governance mechanisms which can weave the economic, social, and environmental strands of sustainable development together. Here, again, Singapore has experiences worthy of study. Third, fair governance matters for sustainable development because it holds the key to building stable and secure societies and to driving inclusive growth within the finite boundaries of our planet over the long term.
Fair, reliable, and accountable governing institutions build trust between people and government.
Such institutions need to be free of corruption. Meaningful engagement and participation of citizens in shaping decisions which impact on them is also important, as is the existence of independent institutions which can hold government to account. Through its democratic governance work, UNDP is supporting over one hundred countries to strengthen the institutions and processes needed to build trust, improve responsiveness, and advance development.
Through our experience of this work, we have learned that there can be no uniform approach to it. Through our respective experiences and histories, Singapore and UNDP have both learned lessons about the importance of active, effective, honest, and fair governance for getting development results. Later in this lecture, I will elaborate more on how such governance can help drive equitable and sustainable development. At the Earth Summit in , that far sighted concept of sustainable development was backed in a strong Declaration and in Agenda 21, setting out what needs to happen to sustain a healthy environment and promote inclusive development.
The MDGs have been successful in generating political leadership, broad partnerships, and civic engagement for development.
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Preliminary data from the World Bank suggest that the world as a whole has already met the MDG target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty. The proportion of people without access to safe drinking water has been cut in half, well in advance of deadline. The MDG targets on gender parity in primary education , and child mortality are likely to be met or nearly met by The total number of children out of school fell by one third during the last decade — from million to sixty-seven million.
Progress has also been made on key environmental objectives. Global conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and desertification, all a legacy of the Earth Summit, have come into effect. Global chlorofluorocarbon production has been phased out, and the ozone layer is expected to recover . More actors in the private sector are engaged in securing an environmentally sound future. But the world has changed significantly since the MDGs were launched more than a decade ago.
There is now a much greater appreciation of the threat and the reality of climate change. It is clear that countries which lack the capacity to adapt to that change, and the poorest and most marginalized people who depend directly on natural resources for their livelihoods, are more vulnerable to this threat and will be disproportionately affected by it.
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Globally, nearly forty per cent of land is degraded due to soil erosion, reduced fertility, and overgrazing. Yet, by , it is estimated that the world will need at least fifty per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy, and thirty per cent more water. Adverse environmental factors are predicted to cause world food prices to rise by thirty to fifty per cent in real terms in the coming decades and to increase price volatility, with harsh repercussions for poor households. It is not only Singapore which is now debating the impact of income inequality and how to address it.
This is now a significant global issue, commanding our attention at the highest multilateral and national levels. Inequality was a major topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, as political and corporate leaders alike reflected on its impact on social cohesion and stability.
UNICEF estimates that on trends observed between and , it would take more than eight hundred years for the poorest one billion people to achieve ten per cent of global income . The protests on the streets of cities around the world from Europe and the United States to the Arab States region and elsewhere suggest that persistent inequities are no more politically sustainable than the devastation of our ecosystems is environmentally sustainable. The findings indicate that "soft" measures such as labeling and public information campaigns also have a significant complementary role to play.
Spurring desirable behaviour change requires a mix of these instruments. Subscribe to the RSS feed.
Greening Household Behaviour Overview from the Survey. Is replaced by : Greening Household Behaviour. Recent OECD work based on periodic surveys of more than 10 households across a number of countries and areas represents a breakthrough by providing a common framework to collect unique empirical evidence for better policy design This publication presents a data overview of the most recent round of the survey implemented in five areas energy, food, transport, waste, and water and 11 countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
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