Economic Development: Theory and Policy Applications

By Fidelis Ezeala-Harrison | Go to book overview

11
Environmental Issues in the Process of Economic Development

The economic progress of a society is based largely on the production and consumption of goods and services involving the overwhelming use of the environmental resources that the society has. This is regardless of whether that society operates a free market economy or a socialist or a centralist economic system. Perhaps the most important entity in a society that has direct effect on the quality of human life (or social welfare) is the environment. Economic development cannot be construed without environmental considerations. This is because the majority of the most crucial developmental issues that the society faces, and some of which this book has dealt with in the earlier chapters (issues such as population growth and human resources, agricultural production, and industrialization), all touch heavily on the environmental circumstances of a country. In dealing with the environmental issues in the development process, we must consider the exact sense in which the term environment must be understood.

All parts of the world have increasingly continued to interconnect through massive advances in communications technologies, especially in the closing decades of the twentieth century. As a result, the prospects for the twenty-first century are for the world to increasingly shrink (interaction wise), allowing nations to easily relate to each other in ways that were not previously apparent. National and regional environmental issues easily become global issues today: the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in the former Soviet Union, the 1988 Exxon-Valdez oil spill off the Alaskan coast of North America, the threatened extinction of the Amazon rain forest and some of its rare species, and the general problems of global environmental degradation. The need for international cooperation to address such issues prompted the Earth Summit of 1992 in Brazil, during which nations sought to determine and adopt more environmentally benign policy approaches.

As far as it concerns economic development, environmental problems and ways to effectively address them are fast becoming uppermost on the agendas

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