Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development

Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development

Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development

Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development


Can sustainable economic development be achieved without strong environmental protections? Bringing together theoretical issues in development economics and a wide range of empirical evidence, this book examines this question and explores ways that environmental sustainability has been--and might be--incorporated into existing theories of economic development. Protection of the environment is an essential part of development, and the best chance for achieving long-term sustainable development is to systematically incorporate environmental issues into key aspects of economic development paradigms. To show this, Desta makes use of theoretical approaches, draws policy implications, and illustrates each point with in-depth case studies from developing countries.


While the concepts associated with sustainable development can be topics of heated debate, there is broad consensus on the importance of exploring these concepts. Critical in these discussions are the linkages between economic development and environmental concerns. Inasmuch as these linkages are considered focal points in many intellectual exchanges, we often find ourselves lacking the essential knowledge to further the conversation. What is clear to many of us is the critical nature of the discussion for ourselves and for our students irrespective of our domain of knowledge. Thus we are dependent on a slowly emerging body of literature written for nonspecialists, for those of us without a formal academic background in either economics or environmental sciences.

Asayehgn Desta's new book, Environmentally Sustainable Economic Development, fills a vacuum for the nonspecialist. His work not only integrates theoretical approaches with policy implications, it also links these two considerations with examples from a broad range of countries. From the first chapter, "The Stages of Economic Development Paradigms," which addresses the prevailing theories of economic development, to the more issue-oriented chapters such as "Women and the Environment," the reader is guided through the interplay of economic theory and environmental implications.

One of the great strengths of Professor Desta's work is the book's organization. Nothing is left to chance. He sets the stage for an engaging conversation by leading the reader through a series of theoretical discussions followed by a historical perspective of the selected issues and offers country-specific case studies. His case studies are both sound and thought provoking. For instance, his chapter on "Health Services and the Environment," with its case study on AIDS in Thailand, represents that special blend of data presentation, analysis, and conclusions that lead one to reflect on the global implications of the AIDS crisis.

What makes this work especially appealing for students and teachers are Professor Desta's Summary and Review Questions following each chapter's presentation. I found beginning with the review questions an efficient way to focus my attention on the key issues. I was never disappointed by the chapters. Each referred directly and explicitly to the review questions at the end. Similarly, the summaries were in fact summaries of what I had read.

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