The concept of the green economy presented in three reports from leading global organizations is examined in this paper. These include the United Nations Environment Programme's Towards a Green Economy, the World Bank's Inclusive Green Growth and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Towards Green Growth. The main critiques of the concept of the green economy are also considered. Contrary to views that the green economy merely represents ‘green-washing’ and tweaking of the current economic system, this paper concludes that the green economy has the potential to effect substantive and transformative change towards the goal of sustainable development. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.