Asia Moving Toward Environmentally-Friendly Green Economic Growth

Development Asia’s Green Growth Edition looks at the growing consensus in the region on the need to balance economic and environmental interests to achieve sustainable growth. This is not an easy task as Asia continues to battle with poverty and a widening development gap between and within countries in the region.

Key Facts:

  • Annual global biodiversity losses range between $2.0 trillion and $4.5 trillion.
  • An annual global investment of $45.0 billion in global conservation activities will yield $5.0 trillion in ecosystem savings.
  • The Asia and Pacific region accounts for 50% of the world’s raw materials consumption but only about 25% of the world GDP.

Source: The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity and Asian Development Bank

High and sustained economic growth in recent years has lifted millions of Asians from poverty, bringing the region to the threshold of prosperity. Yet, rapid development has come at a high price. Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production have taken their toll in the form of environmental degradation, worsening water stress, and increasing levels of pollution, hazardous waste, and disaster risk. 
 
“When the government is confronted with the choice – food for the poor or technology for renewable energy – it will opt for food for the poor,” says Professor Emil Salim, Indonesia’s eminent environmentalist and sustainable development advocate
 
And the pressure to shift to a green economy is coming not just from within but also from outside the region. Twenty years after the first Earth Summit, world leaders will again meet in Rio de Janiero this year to take stock of progress made to secure a sustainable future. All eyes may be on Asia at the summit, as it is expected not just to drive the world’s economic recovery, but also to follow an environmentally sustainable path toward growth.
 
In this edition’s Big Voice interview, Ashok Khosla, president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, talks about the role Asia could take in pushing the green agenda.
 
“Asia is in a position to play a major leadership role in the new thinking that is required to make the world a better place,” he says.
 
“The civilizations of Asia are quite ancient and have centuries, if not millennia, of thinking about how to leave peacefully and in harmony with nature. But it seems to me they have temporarily forgotten many of these lessons. Deep down these lessons should still be available to them.”
 
Other stories in this edition look at how investors are affecting social change and pioneering efforts to deliver medicine through a beverage company’s distribution network.
 
To read Development Asia’s Green Growth edition, go to http://www.development.asia/issue12
 
Development Asia features development issues important to the Asia and Pacific region. It is published four times a year by ADB.