Environment and economic growth: inevitable conflict?

30-09-2014, London, United Kingdom

Historically, economic growth and environmental degradation went, by and large, hand in hand. The ‘information age’ has provided not only a greater understanding of the destruction but also the tools to remedy it. The worldwide embrace of two concepts – green growth and deep decarbonisation – will be key to determining an inclusive and sustainable future for the planet, say REEEP's Germana Canzi and John Tkacik in an article in the United Nations Association - UK publication: Global Development Goals: Partnerships for Progress

SELCO solar electric unit (Credit: Mallikarjun Katakol)

In the international development sector, it’s not uncommon for experts to be concerned about whether developing countries are ready to deal with sustainability issues rather than focus mainly on economic growth. But given what we know about current environmental trajectories – including impacts on future economic circumstances – does any country in the world really have a choice?

For the first time in human history, we have surpassed in 2014 the landmark point of 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, long considered a ‘tipping point’ by climate scientists. We are beginning to see signs of so called positive feedback in the climate – natural processes that can greatly accelerate the pace of climate change.

At the same time, we are witnessing biodiversity losses unparalleled in human history, debilitating overexploitation of oceans, extreme pressures on fresh water resources and agricultural production, and resulting strains on human health and security.

Yet economic growth has played a dominant role in improving the quality of life for millions upon millions of people and will remain essential to lifting millions more from poverty. We must keep this in mind as we seek to stem the tide of natural resource degradation.

To read the whole article please visit the UNA-UK Website



John Tkacik's picture

John Tkacik

Director of Analytics and Technology

Germana Canzi's picture

Germana Canzi

Senior Advisor to the Director General