Any transition to a sustainable and equitable ‘green economy’ will require restructuring patterns of production, consumption and distribution and finding innovative development ‘alternatives’ to achieve justice on a global scale. Social dimensions – including social and distributive policies, social relationships and institutions, and the ability of all groups to participate in or contest policy choices – will be critical in driving this transformation. However, these dimensions have consistently received least attention in the triad of issues that define sustainable development.
The question at the heart of ‘green economy’ debates, is whether we are facing a ‘crisis in’, or a systemic ‘crisis of’, the capitalist system. If the former, then adjusting existing market structures and policy or regulatory mechanisms, including those relating to green economy, may be a logical response. But if we are facing a systemic crisis ‘of’, then deeper institutional reform and transformative change of the system itself is required. This in turn raises the question of whether existing institutions and mechanisms (of financial capitalism in particular) are appropriate for addressing ecological crisis.