For quite a lot of economic policy-makers around the world, the term ‘green’ growth has become a talisman, a way of invoking steady increases in output without adverse environmental consequences. So what exactly does green growth mean? The World Bank regards ‘green’ growth as “growth that is efficient in the use of its natural resources which minimises pollution and environmental impacts, and resilient in that it accounts for natural hazards and the role of environmental management and natural capital in preventing physical disasters” . It also adds the rider that “this growth needs to be inclusive”, thus acknowledging the three pillars – economic, environmental and social – of sustainable development. Green Growth refers to economic growth and development while ensuring sustainable use of natural resources. In other words, it means growth of the economy without putting the environment at risk.
A term rarely heard of before the 2008 global financial crisis, the concept now occupies a prominent position in the policy debates. It gained importance because post the financial crisis the Governments solely worked on boosting the economic growth completely neglecting the environment which caused some serious damage to the environment. The economic growth in the past decade has brought in employment and financial and social development of the population. But it has also caused a great deal of damage due to the negligence of the environment.
Greening growth is necessary to achieve sustainable development. Green growth is economic growth that is environmentally sustainable. It is not a new paradigm, in fact it aims to operationalize sustainable development by reconciling developing countries’ urgent need for rapid growth and poverty alleviation with the risks of lock‐in and irreversible environmental damage. The green growth policies need to focus on what is required in the next 5‐10 years to sustain robust growth without locking economies into unsustainable patterns.
We also urgently need green growth because risks to development are rising as growth continues to erode the natural capital. If it is left unchecked, it would mean increased water scarcity, worsening resource bottlenecks, greater pollution, climate change, and unrecoverable biodiversity loss. These tensions may undermine future growth prospects for at least two reasons:
■ It is becoming increasingly costly to substitute physical capital for natural capital. For instance, if water becomes more polluted, we will need more infrastructure to transport and purify it.
■ Change does not necessarily follow a smooth, foreseeable path. For example, some fish stocks suddenly collapsed after declining only slowly for years.
Much of green growth policy is actually considered to be good growth policy. It is about getting the prices right and fixing markets, addressing coordination failures and knowledge externalities, and assigning property rights. As “natural capital”, the environment is an input into the production function. There are plenty of ethical and cultural reasons to protect our environment. But it is also good economics.
A study shows that environmental degradation costs our country, $80 billion per year on 5.7% of its economy. It is proven that our current growth patterns are not sustainable and by 2050, 4 billion people will live in areas experiencing severe water stress. The current environmental concerns are a product of our own doings and worsening at a more speed than in the past. Studies show that the effect of degrading environment can be seen the most in developing countries where damage t o agricultural production due to extreme weather conditions results in death’s from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases. By 2030, the researchers estimate the cost of climate change and air pollution combined will rise to 3.2% of global GDP, with the world’s least developed countries forecast to bear the brunt, suffering losses of up to 11% of their GDP.
Some countries like Korea , Ireland, China and Rwanda are really serious about applying green growth plan’s in action in their respective countries. The National Strategy for Green Growth and the Five-Year Plan (2009-2013) of Korea provide a comprehensive policy framework for green growth. The Strategy aims to:
(1) Promote eco-friendly new growth engines,
(2) Enhance peoples' quality of life, and
(3) Contribute to international efforts to fight climate change.
The ‘Green Development’ section of China's 12th Five Year Plan (FYP, 2011-2015) is a manifestation of the country's aspiration to move towards a greener economy. The Plan is a strategic national roadmap, setting priorities regarding China's future socioeconomic development, and providing guidelines and targets for policy making at the sectoral and sub-national level.
Changing current patterns of growth, consumer habits, technology, and infrastructure is a long term project and we will have to live with the consequences of past decisions for a long time. Green growth strategies thus need to be flexible enough to take advantage of new technologies as well as unexpected opportunities and be able to abandon one approach if a better one becomes available.
Researchers and environmentalists have come up with solutions that we can use in our daily lives as our contribution. These solutions range from using a natural fridge that runs without electricity to using fly ash bricks for constructing infrastructure that would require minimum or no artificial temperature control so as to help us reduce our carbon footprints.
Angel Gurria, OECD Secretary- General very aptly quoted that “ Green and growth go very well together. Green growth means we go for growth, we recover GDP but we also preserve and we actually enhance the endowment of natural resources that we were provided with, and which today are sustaining the economic activity on our planet Earth.”
Green’ growth has become a familiar buzz word all over the world. Given the threat of a runaway climate change as well as environmental degradation, ‘green’ growth is likely to be the only sort of growth that is feasible in the long run. All of the above shows us, that country leaders and all the people as citizens of the world need to realize the importance of green growth as money will not be of any use if there is no clean air to breathe and no water to drink.