Promoting environmentally sound economic growth

Pursuing sustainable economic development
Fostering environmentally sustainable economic development
Sustainable development is defined by the [Brundtland Report] as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Economic growth has been achieved at the detriment of the environment. Environmental degradation in turn has lowered our resource base and led to the lowering of the well-being of significant numbers of people. This relationship is not sustainable. To pursue sustainable economic growth requires necessarily environmentally sound economic growth. Environmental deterioration has not in general reached such a point that it will bring growth to a halt or even reduce the rate of global growth substantially, though some countries may already reach this point. The continued loss of natural resources is definitely costly in the broadest sense and represents a gross misallocation of scarce resources. An immediate danger is that, while development on average proceeds, the poorest sections of the community might be faced with falling incomes, and consequently, greater pressure upon those parts of the physical environment to which they have access and, finally, still lower incomes in subsequent periods. A vicious spiral of environmental degradation and falling income for the poor is certainly possible.

Sustainable development and the process of economic reform require concern for the environment to be integrated into virtually all policy-making by government ministries and agencies. Environmental policy should be the concern of the entire government. Environment ministries have a particular responsibility to ensure that this principle is put into practice. The level of integration needs to be assessed in national environmental performance reviews. Further, all levels of government need to set an example and reduce the adverse environmental impact of their own activities. Environmental assessment provides an effective means of integrating environmental considerations into all levels of decision-making by administrators.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

Article 2 of the Amsterdam Treaty (1977) provides that it will be the European Community's task to promote the harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities, environmentally-friendly growth, a high degree of convergence of economic performance, a high level of employment and social protection, the raising of the standard of living and quality of life, economic and social cohesion and solidarity among Member States.

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent research and policy institute founded to help societies meet human needs and nurture economic growth without destroying the natural resources and [environmental] integrity that make prosperity possible; generate information about global resources and environmental conditions, analyse emerging issues, develop policy responses, provide technical support and other services to governments, environmental and development organizations and businesses that are trying to manage natural resources sustainably; bring the insights of scientific research, economic analysis and practical experience to political, business and other leaders; WRI focuses on six broad areas -- climate, energy and pollution; forests and biodiversity; economics; technology; resource and environmental information; and institutions -- and augments policy recommendations with field services and technical support for groups working in natural resource management. In 1993 it main concerns are: promoting transition to a sustainable society; safeguarding the Earth's atmosphere; charting the path to sustainable energy; preventing biological impoverishment; conserving global forests; gaining ground on sustainable agriculture; including natural resources in economic signals; revealing trends and indicators; triggering technological revolution; promoting equity within and among countries. Conducts objective policy research; publicizes new policy options and encourages their adoption; provides technical support to developing countries to help implement policies that sustain healthy economic development.

The Action Plan [Sustainable Netherlands], developed by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, envisages production and consumption in an industrial society when kept within the limits of environmental space. Environmental space is the sum total of what the Earth can provide (present and future generations) without over stressing its carrying capacity. If the Netherlands reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 60% by the year 2010, reduce the use of mineral resources by 80 - 90%, reduce the use of fresh water by 40%, reduce the use of timber by 60% and reduce the use of agricultural land by 45%, while at the same time making the maximum use of already-existing technologies, then it is possible to maintain a reasonable standard of living in the Netherlands, but not at the cost of other countries.

1. Governments at the appropriate level, with the support of the relevant international and regional organizations, should build up national and regional institutional bases that could carry out research, training and dissemination of information on the sustainable development of the economies of fragile ecosystems.

2. Economic growth provides the conditions in which protection of the environment can best be achieved. Environmental protection in balance with other human goals, is necessary to achieve growth that is sustainable. Business shares the view that there should be a common goal, not a conflict, between economic development and environmental protection, both now and for future generations.

Strengthening sustainable development economics
Promoting sustainable capitalism
Conducting technology assessments
Using natural resource accounting
Investigating equitable economic growth
Investigating equitable economic growth
Developing international environmental law
Developing international environmental policy
Promoting open trade for sustainable development
Promoting North-South environment and development
Using market forces to improve global environment
Decoupling economic growth and pollution increase
Supporting use of environmentally sound technology
Realising economic benefits of environmental health
Ensuring sustainable development of energy resources
Integrating environmental considerations into lending
Uncoupling economic growth from growth in resource use
Protecting against environmental hazards from industry
Integrating environmental and economic decision-making
Creating environmental monitoring and assessment systems
Creating environmental monitoring and assessment systems
Providing environmental assistance to developing countries
Facilitating transfer of environmentally sound technologies
Using environmental assessment components in economic valuations
Applying precautionary principle to trade and environment matters
Protesting lack of integration of environmental and economic issues
Financing environmentally sound technologies in developing countries
Supporting research and development of environmentally sound technology
Achieving growth with less energy, materials and harmful wastes
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal