Over the years, economic growth trends and environmental sustainability stood a paradox, despite both working for an improved life, one demands exploitation of the available resources for an impactful development, while the other calls for the same resource conservation, for life sustenance.
Rapid economic growth has been the main goal of any government economic policy. To maximize GDP and profits, different economies have evolved mechanisms to optimize the potential of the available natural resources. Technological developments have greatly exacerbated the economies efforts.
Economic growth is associated with increased production and consumption patterns, dependent on the earth limited resources, ranging from non-renewable energy sources, natural forests, arable land, and water resource. Despite the lucrative benefits of improved per capita income, higher GDP and huge business profits, economic growth bids come with huge burdens of environment pollution, overexploitation of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, habitat degradation, and climate change.
Economic policies have in history predominantly focused on increased GDP and optimizing on profits. But the fact that we own no planet B, to offer a parallel run on economy and ecosystems, necessitate a revolutionary mindset to help develop an economy for both human and ecological wellbeing. Started as a simple concern from environmental activists, a few politicians and think tanks green growth is now a notable issue in the international arena, governments, and investors. Organization of Economic and Cooperation Development(OECD) defines green growth as taking measures conducive to growth and economic development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services that contribute to the country’s prosperity.” A system characterized by a considerable increase in investment in sectors of the economy that significantly contribute to decreased ecological deficiencies and environmental threats. Such include investments in renewable energy sources, low-emission transport, energy-efficient building, clean technologies, improved waste management, forest management, sustainable agriculture, and fishing.
For a continent to be sustainably developed, every community needs to be economically, socially and environmentally healthy. These factors exist mutually inclusively and neglect on either implies a failed society. Integrated solutions rather than fragmented approaches are necessary for sustainable community growth. “In order to achieve healthy communities we need clean air, natural resources, and non-toxic environment.” Martin Tobin, Chief Executive of the European Recycling Platform.
A Green Growth Strategy is now a major outlook for countries keen to reduce their economic negative impacts on the environment. South Korea has taken a spearhead and serves as an ambassador of green growth. Africa too is joining the team and transitioning to a green economy. Evident through African leaders and government commitment to the African Green Economy Partnership (AGEP), adopted at the 14th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), that aim at moving Africa towards the Green Economy.
African countries have undertaken policy reforms and green investments in the interest to address poverty, hunger, climate change, and natural resource degradation. Egypt has been at the forefront to promote energy efficiency, while Ghana is at the lookout to develop renewable energy export capacity, South Africa have likewise spearhead financing of green initiatives. Though the pathways taken is more individualized, the continent is jointly at the forefront to recognize the potential of shifting to a green, low carbon and inclusive economy.
Sustainability is everyone’s job and not a corporate department and every individual must recognize their own responsibility and act accordingly if we are to successfully achieve the goals of the various economic development plans.
Governments, global leaders, investors need to consider development potential that increases the life quality of the population and complementary ensures lasting benefits for the country’s future generations. Sustainability of natural resources and environmental condition must serve to prove that the benefit of growth is distributed throughout the population and environment.