The Challenge of Economic Growth: Creating Essential Insurance to Preserve the Environment for Sustainable Development

Article excerpt

Almost all nations in the contemporary world regard economic development as a priority. This has added importance for developing countries since genuine international political equality requires effective economic strength. Equally important is the view that constant economic growth and development will guarantee the improvement of life and a rise in the standard of living for every citizen, as well as contribute to internal political stability. On the other hand, in light of the trend towards more cooperative development in the world today, and in particular for feasible economic cooperation, each nation has to consider its economic capacity. In Vietnam the aim of economic development policy is clearly indicated in Article 16 of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Constitution 1992:

To make the people rich and the country strong, satisfy to an ever greater extent the people's material and spiritual needs by releasing all productive potential; developing all latent possibilities of all components of the economy: the State sector, the collective sector, the private individual sector, the private capitalist sector, and the State capitalist sector in various forms, pushing on with the construction of material and technical bases, broadening economic, scientific, technical cooperation and expanding intercourse with world markets.(1)

The problem presented by this economic development policy is to determine in what way the economy can grow and develop so that an environment for sustainable development is maintained, i.e. what insurance is needed in order that economic growth and development will not lead to environmental destruction; and what is the role of the State in particular in this regard?

Throughout history it has been shown that all growth and development have had costs arising from human ignorance, although the costs have varied. So it is that economic growth and development, particularly in current circumstances, cannot be a spontaneous process that is self-adjusting. It must be planned, based on scientific understanding, directed cautiously based on a chain of synchronized policies, and implemented using a variety of organizational approaches, all of which will require a tremendous effort in all economic sectors. Even with this understanding, human limitations may at various stages lead to a number of errors, shortcomings, and even failures.

For Vietnam, economic growth and development are now fraught with countless difficulties. To overcome these difficulties requires knowledge and methods to gradually deal with backlogs and problems as they arise, to seize opportunities and occupy markets, to make the most by mobilizing all available capital sources at home and abroad. We need to know how to adjust quickly to important changes in the evolving world, and in particular how to rationally, efficiently, and effectively exploit our natural and human resources.

Although the community of Vietnamese ethnic groups has exploited and used its natural resources and flexibly adapted to rigorous conditions to establish a society that has endured for thousands of years, the present and future scope and rate of exploitation of these resources may have negative effects and consequences that are unpredictable.

Rapid economic growth is urgently required in poor, less developed countries and is generally accepted as the main way to gradually abolish hunger and relieve poverty. More often than not, however, economic growth in less developed countries results in severe damage to the environment, since in these countries economic development has been at the cost of the ruthless exploitation of natural resources. Thus the environment has been devastated and natural resources wasted. There are many causes: the low level of knowledge, backward technology, lack of understanding on how to prepare a national development strategy, inadequate laws as well as non-observance and enforcement of those that have been adopted, favoritism towards local interests, and the actions of local authorities contrary to the national interest. …