The global market for low carbon and energy efficient technologies, including renewable energy supply products, will triple to $2.2 trillion by 2020, the United Nations Environment Programme forecasts in a report.
The UNEP report, Green Economy and Trade-Trends, Challenges and Opportunities, says developing countries with abundant renewable resources are well-positioned to increase their share in international markets for sustainable goods and services.
Green trade still represents only a small percentage of the global market, the UNEP says. However, trade in certified products and in environmental goods and services is on the rise in absolute terms.
The report identifies six economic sectors where green trade opportunities exist: agriculture, fisheries, forests, manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism.
The global market for organic food and beverages is projected to grow from $62.9 billion in 2011 to $105 billion by 2015. The total value of seafood that has been farmed according to certified sustainability standards is forecast to increase to $1.25 billion by 2015, up from $300 million in 2008, according to the report.
The UNEP says public investments in key economic infrastructure, technical assistance, targeted education and training programs and access to sustainable resources, such as electricity from renewable energy sources, can help developing countries access and benefit from greener international markets.
The report also recommends eliminating subsidies that encourage unsustainable production, consumption and trade, and establishing pricing policies that take account of the true environmental and social costs of production and consumption.
Earlier this year, the UNEP warned the rush for Arctic mineral resources prompted by an apparent acceleration in sea ice melt calls for caution and effective governance to avoid damage to the fragile environment. The report issued a number of recommendations to tackle the emerging environmental issues, but said that reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains the most important measure.