In Environmental Change in South-East Asia Parnwell and Bryant (1996) note that sustainable development-seen as an ideology and initiating process-has been incorporated into attitudes and beliefs in most South East Asian countries.
Many people no longer accept, if they ever did, that economic growth and environmental degradation must go hand in hand. Tolerance thresholds have been surpassed…. People are protesting against environmental abuse, environmental pressure groups are mushrooming, school children are learning about the environment, the media are championing environmental causes and practitioners are trying hard to right environmental wrongs.
(Parnwell and Bryant 1996:330)
Why then, Parnwell and Bryant ask, is the problem growing? The possible answers offered are: there is a wide discrepancy and a time lag between awareness and action; not everyone is environmentally aware; many people are aware but do not care; and there are many people who are aware and do care but are powerless to act. Although these are all significant reasons, even more important is the reason identified by the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Environment Outlook that 'environmental problems remain deeply embedded in the socio-economic fabric of societies in all regions' (1997:3). Environmental problems and the personal and structural difficulties in dealing with them are therefore shared throughout the Asia-Pacific region, as they are in all countries in the world.
Global Environmental Outlook notes that 'the environment has continued to degrade during the past decade', that 'progress towards a global sustainable future is just too slow' and that 'a sense of urgency is lacking' (UNEP 1997:3). The degradation of the environment in the Asia-Pacific region is among the worst in the world, as Chapter 1 illustrated. To reverse adverse environmental trends, and to set the region and the world onto a sustainable path, will therefore require much new thinking, considerable