WASHINGTON – A green economy will simultaneously tackle poverty, unemployment and climate change, contends a new report by a Christian anti-hunger group.
In Bread for the World Institute's 20th annual hunger report, entitled "Hunger 2010: A Just and Sustainable Recovery," creating green jobs that advance clean, renewable forms of energy and boost energy efficiency was offered as a solution to the current economic and climate change crisis.
Most proposed ideas address hunger, unemployment or the climate change problem separately, but the report suggests that the United States approach the interrelated problems as a package.
"The point is that all these difficult issues need to be addressed together if we are going to have a recovery that is just and sustainable and solid," said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World Institute, at the release of the report Monday.
In the United States, more than 49 million people struggle to put food on the table and nearly one in four children live on the brink of hunger. Closely linked to the hunger statistics is the fact that currently one in ten Americans is unemployed.
According to Robert Greenstein, founder and executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the United States currently risks repeating the same mistake it made during the last recovery, from 2001 to 2007.
During the last recovery, there was "virtually no decline in poverty" and the median income of the typical working age household in the United States was no higher at the end of the recovery than at the bottom of the previous recession, Greenstein highlighted.
The reason for the "disappointing" recovery, Greenstein explained, is because the economic gains were unevenly shared with up to two-thirds of gains going to people at the top of the income scale.
"Looking forward, the question is how does the next recovery be different than the last one? How do we make sure the gains are more evenly shared and operate as recovery used to in ways that reduce poverty and reduce hunger?" Greenstein posed.
The economic expert pointed to Bread for the World's hunger report and called it a "bigger, bolder" vision of how to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the country.
Likewise, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, an organization that mobilizes young people to be socially and politically active, praised the report for offering a forward-thinking solution that tackles multiple problems.
"We have the opportunity to fight poverty and pollution at the same time," said Yearwood. "And we can also put the people who most need work and give them the job that we most need to be done."
The report explained that green jobs are not necessarily new, but more often add an environmentally friendly component to an existing job. Green jobs can include a typical roofer who can also be trained to build roofs that are energy efficient or a normal manufacturer who also produces solar cells.
"The jobs that will help us convert our economy from reliance on fossil fuels to alternative energy sources could more than surpass the 4 million manufacturing jobs lost since the start of the recession," said Beckmann, who also noted that a job is the best anti-poverty program there is.
Bread for the World plans to engage the church in calling for a green economy in its anti-hunger advocacy. The 2010 Hunger Report includes a Bible study guide to help Christian groups understand the biblical view on justice, creation, and other issues addressed in the report.
The report is created in part to help the network of churches Bread for the World works with to be more informed advocates for the poor and hungry, Beckmann said.
"The economic crisis has given us an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild our economy and to put people and the planet at the center of our decisions," Beckmann said. "It is important that the economic recovery be measured by how many of the world's poorest people are able to lift themselves out of chronic hunger and poverty."