Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Green economy remains a challenge in developing countries

By Maria Grace Hutapea, CAUSES Intern

ISEE 2016 Plenary: The Food Water Energy Justice Nexus
Environmental issues remains a challenge in developing countries as the governments are more focused on economic growth while putting the environment at risk. That is especially true for developing countries, especially the poorest, where the need to enhance economic performance has often resulted in environmental degradation. In other words, halting environmental pollution may undermine economic growth.
Most of the developing countries are highly dependable to their natural resources. In order to achieve their goals to improve the standard living of their citizens, these countries opt for cheap energy for all. Not only does that result in job creation and development, but it also attracts a large amount of foreign direct investment. Marina Silva, former Environmental Minister of Brazil, linked this phenomena to a political system that has been designed in favor to the private sectors. She argues that politics has become very implicit when it comes to environmental problems.
Minister Ramesh (l) and Minister Silva (r) 
“Politicians nowadays are very quick to make changes necessary, but not to change the system,” said Silva. This is why to maintain its economic growth, poor countries are following the energy intensive model.
Similar to Silva, Jairam Ramesh, the former Environmental Minister of India, stressed the need of transparency in the policy making processes. According the Ramesh, political process remains compromisable when it comes to economic growth. India is a good example of this challenge where the country of 2.1 billion people finds it hard to balance growing population and consumption. Like other developing countries, India’s top priority is to grow their economy, but the country finds it hard to maintain robust economic growth without sacrificing environment. The government also finds it hard to implement federal regulation in local level. At this point, the role of social movements is very critical as driving forces behind sustainable environmental policy. Social movement is also a great watch-dog to make sure that policy making process is not “overly sided” with the private sector. It is no secret that in developing countries such as India or Brazil, corruption in the bureaucracy remains a problem. Consequently, the government finds it hard to implement pro-environment policy at the local level.
Demographic factors also poses a significant challenge to green economy. The bigger a country's population, the greater the risk. There is a strong connection between population, consumption, and investment. More people result in more consumption; thus, more natural resources exploitation. Consequently, it creates social crises that are facing the whole humanity. Therefore, it is very important to create an economic system that is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Incentives to promote environmental behavior is equally important as disincentive that discourage environmental behavior. This is especially critical in developing countries where green economy is very much needed to avoid environmental degradation while at the same time maintain its robust economic growth.

For more information on ISEE, visit www.isecoeco.org.

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