In 2015 more and more countries put their efforts on developing their economies by investing in green economy sectors. You might be surprised but the countries that pay attention the most to green growth (formerly known as green economy) and environmental sustainability are not USA, neither the European Union (all 28 state members).
The answer is the countries in Asia, and more correctly the countries from BRICS – Brasil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This alliance seems to acknowledge the most the need of having their focus in to this subject.
USA alone, are way ahead compared to any other country in terms of green growth and sustainability, but when compared to union like BRICS they are not able to beat them. Especially when we look in to prospective.
European Union, which was created to somehow copy-paste the model of United States, is far away from focusing on green economy and sustainability. The economic differentiation between the state members is so huge, that it will take many years to have them really being ‘one big family’ thinking in to the same direction. There are countries which current focus is literally to ‘survive’; hence investing in green growth, for them, is not exactly the best approach in this moment in time … Yes, there are countries which are distributing some good part of their national budgets to this matter, but will this be enough?
BRICS on the other hand, a group that was created to give a reply to the other two unions, and to be an active economic competitor and not just passive viewer on what is happening in the rest of the world, is really underestimated by the other two. They are willing to be modern, to be emerging market, but also not to repeat those mistakes that were made in the past. If they achieve in this, they can really turn in to a successful role model for the years to come.
Investing in green economy – from green roofs and green walls to urban development, water supply and sanitation requires investments, requires cash, i.e. to limit your current expenses with focus in the wellbeing of the next generation. It is not easy to say we have to invest in businesses that will pay out within 50-60 years period of time, or even more. And we have to pay a lot. This is what makes the difference.
“Those who have the cash and really want their children and grandchildren to live ‘in a better world’ will dictate the development in the future, both socially and economically.”
Many emerging markets are focused on economic growth and reducing emphasis on sustainable energy and non-polluting industries. This modified ‘green growth’ approach is receiving greater support at the expense of an alternative ‘green economy’ model that we were used to know in the past.
United Nations are also trying to play an important role, through UN Rio + 20 where it was said that developing and emerging countries should focus future development on non-polluting green industries, including renewable energies. At the same time it is a big challenge to find the balance between the money you have to spend for current economic growth and such that is focused in the years to come. It is not easy to choose solutions that are for the next generations and to sacrifice the money which you now have, not to spend them on you, but rather to invest them in the next generation… It is pretty much like a family model. If you want your son/daughter to be successful you have to sacrifice and to cut costs from your current budget, and invest them for their future. The worst case scenario is if you have to come to the point when you know what you should do, but you don’t have the cash…
Although green growth and higher standards of living imply rising consumption of resources, food, and energy, implicit in this approach is that countries must also introduce fundamental changes in patterns of consumption, technology, and agriculture to ensure a sustainable future for their growing populations. You should not be surprised, but the countries that are having bigger growth in their populations are the one to pay the most attention to this. Often these developments have begun in particular regions in countries and then spread outwards, as in Brazil and India, for instance.
The importance of sustainability for economic growth was clearly illustrated during the massive floods in Thailand some years ago, sharpened by global warming, which disrupted the country’s car industry with knock-on effects for international supply chains. In Asia, in the past few years, there have been several examples of severe air pollution in cities, not only in Beijing, spreading over hundreds of kilometres. This disrupted both economic activity and affected the health of millions, which at the end costs more money to recover and to get back to normal.
But the move towards green growth in developing countries poses extraordinary challenges for experts and decision makers because of the greater need to address the costs of natural risks and environmental and industrial safety, and large variations and unpredictability in global trade. These challenges are forcing the need in developing countries for speedy but different reforms appropriate to their societies and institutions, although this strategic aspect of development is seldom discussed at meetings of legislators and governments.
It is clear that for more people to enjoy better standards, at the same time as promoting sustainability, enhanced innovation is needed to reduce consumption of physical materials and damage to sensitive ecologies and resources. Some small states and cities in the developing world are leading the way in a number of directions and directives, including world class, low emission transportation such as high-speed electric trains, low energy and low cost housing with new building materials and solar collectors, low energy and minimal water use in agriculture, and bio-energy (including mixing human and animal wastes in village bio-reactors). How many countries in EU are doing this?
For the developed world, a key challenge is finding how best to share knowledge about the many aspects of green growth with developing countries. The experience that they have needs to be used correctly and adapted as per the emerging countries regions. As countries in South Europe, now experience some of the natural risks that are common in developing countries, such as flooding, they should be talking about how to learn about adapting their infrastructure, housing and communications to such frequent events .
And just as important is how to convince more the politicians, especially finance ministries, that economic development needs to be based upon optimum, long-term use of natural resources while preserving and enhancing the natural environment. It is a mixture of what you want to achieve as an economic prosperity, by not decreasing the natural sources, but optimizing the usage of them.
As a conclusion, we can do inference that green growth represents a key, emerging development field, and that countries like China will most likely be the crucial testbed. Whether this approach is widely adopted and proves successful will have vital implications not just for the developing world, but also for global environmental sustainability.