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Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony With Nature

Discuss different economic approaches to further a more ethical basis for the relationship between humanity and the Earth
22 Apr 2013
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Conference Room 3, North Lawn Building, New York

To commemorate International Mother Earth Day, the General Assembly hosted an interactive dialogue on Harmony with Nature. The purpose of the interactive dialogue was to advance discussions on different economic approaches, in the context of sustainable development, and to further a more ethical basis for the relationship between humanity and the Earth.

The Rio+20 Outcome Document recognizes the contribution of the Harmony with Nature process in advancing sustainable development. In "The Future We Want", Member States and several other stakeholders acknowledged that "Mother Earth" embodies a universal set of principles adopted by societies in the search to recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development.

The assumption that human well-being increases with the accumulation of more goods and services, through an ever expanding economic growth, seems contradictory to developments over past centuries, namely in the field of climate change and the depletion of non-renewable resources. Environmental economics, while recognizing that our well-being depends to a large extent on ecosystem services, and that we suffer from the effects stemming from an unbalanced relationship with the Earth, is nevertheless devoted to the goal of attaining efficiency. Accordingly, environmental economics attempt to assign market values to the natural world, recognizing it almost inherently as a part of the mass production system.

By contrast, ecological economics parts way from neoclassical (and environmental) economics in an effort to set a path towards life in harmony with nature. Whereas the efficient resources allocation is of paramount importance to the collective well-being, ecological economics attach great value to a healthy society, integrated with the natural world, and with intergenerational equality as an important cross-cutting issue. A number of Member States have already taken up this model and have recognized - by law - the rights of nature as a vital tool in the promotion of sustainable development.

Outcomes of the dialogue included proposals that best serve people and the natural world and achieve lasting and shared well-being, as well as specific recommendations for the discussion of the United Nations development agenda post-2015.