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Green Economy Transition for Developing Countries Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 23rd, 2020

Abstract

This paper reveals the way developing countries should transition to a green economy. It emphasizes the fact that such an alteration is advantageous for them because it allows for the enhancement of the living conditions of the population when other practices turn out to be ineffective. Also, it identifies those challenges the countries may have when maintaining the transition and points out those issues and advantages that are related to this process. Thus, following the examples of Nigeria and South Africa, other countries can reach sustainable development.

Introduction

Among the most critical global issues that the representatives of the general public are faced with today are water and food supply, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and terrorism. This list may be continued, but the causes of these problems are mainly limited to environmental mismanagement and inequality. The most vulnerable of them are developing countries that still face a lot of challenges and yet survive due to external assistance. They can be negatively affected by climate changes and the usage of resources. International efforts today are used to emphasize the overall desire to make countries reach sustainable wealth. However, for now, they are focused on the promotion of green growth as a part of it. Green economy presupposes “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities” (UNEP, 2010). In its framework, professionals within both the public and private cooperate to reduce emissions and pollution. The main purpose of the transition toward this economy is to increase economic growth. Its main challenge is the differentiation of the desires that both rich and poor countries have.

A transition toward a green economy as a tool for sustainable development is worth discussing because numerous developing countries try to undertake various initiatives to improve their performance and make the lives of their populations better. Unfortunately, the expected achievements within a short period are reached only by a few. The rising number of issues such as malnutrition, water contamination, or homelessness indicates that new approaches should be introduced and discussed. In this way, however, a green economy is not currently very popular.

Green growth affects not only the economy but also the environment and society. Thus, it increases GDP and distributes it better. Economic diversification and innovation can also be reached in this way. The usage of natural resources enhances so that they are efficiently used and preserved. In this way, adverse environmental influence reduces so that it becomes less complicated to manage risks. Due to green growth, the quality of people’s lives are enhanced; they obtain better jobs as well as equality. Such improvements that are obtained due to the transition toward a green economy prove that it is likely to be beneficial for developing countries to maintain it. This paper will provide evidence on the topic to make this statement well-grounded to trigger further changes. Thus, the objectives of this paper will include:

  • discussion of the green economy;
  • review of different literature related to the topic;
  • analysis of the data gathered from the authoritative sources;
  • identification of challenges for the green economy;
  • identification of advantages that can be obtained by countries that transition to a green economy;
  • discussion of the issues developing countries have and the way they can be solved with the help of a green economy;
  • discussion of the practices developing countries should utilize to transition toward a green economy; and
  • information concerning South Africa’s and Nigeria’s examples.

Literature Review

The advantages for different countries regarding the transition toward a green economy were observed by Acharya and Sequeira (2012). They emphasize the fact that it can be treated as a measure of sustainable development. A green economy allows for the alignment of economic development and growth in harmony with the environment. Professionals state that a lot of attention has been paid to this type of economy recently, but no definite conclusion was made regarding its implementation. They focus on the policies developed by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and analyze them to point out main issues and challenges, such as the lack of attention paid to the social dimension, insufficient technology, inequalities, etc. Besides, Acharya and Sequeira (2012) state how a green economy can be promoted, including initiatives to avoid soil erosion and reforestation, increase recycling, and utilize renewable energy.

Similar ideas are revealed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (2017), whose African representatives claim that a green economy is a “system of economic activities related to the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services that result in improved human well-being over the long term, while not exposing future generations to significant environmental risks or ecological scarcities” (para. 1). Professionals provide a list of related jobs, claiming that they are to be promoted actively so that there will be enough professionals that can promote a green economy. Among the key areas that require improvement are building, transportation, energy, waste and resource management, and agriculture.

One of the most informative sources that are used in this paper is written by Nwosu, Uhuegbulem, and Ben-Chendo (2015). Professionals investigated the way a green economy can be used by developing countries to reach sustainable development. They used Nigeria as a sample country for their research. The authors identified the issues of a green economy, such as the lack of consideration of the international dimension, failure to apply initiatives for a particular country and to follow environmental standards, and treatment of subsidies. Also, they claimed that a green economy allows for the enhancement of a population’s living conditions, which concurs with the ideas of other professionals. However, according to the report prepared by Ocampo, Cosbey, and Khor (2012), it can also be used to reduce environmental risks. They claim that professionals need to consider environmental spending and policies because financing for initiatives plays a vital role in the success of the entire transition. It can help countries to cope with the environmental crisis and to conserve natural resources. However, the authors also reveal their concerns associated with the fact that developing countries should make sure that they undertake green economy initiatives contributing to sustainable development because by choosing a wrong approach, they may replace it.

OECD (2012) supports a previously discussed idea that green growth has many benefits for developing countries. Unlike other authors, it also separately indicates that usual business is not appropriate in this perspective. It is underlined that a lot of attention should be paid to the production of food and the preservation of air, water, food, and energy as well as climate effects. Poverty and equity are discussed as the main issues that can be solved with the help of a green economy when its initiatives are implemented. Policy frameworks and international dimensions are also thoroughly discussed, including environmental agreements, trade, and finance.

Method of Analysis

This paper is prepared based on the qualitative approach, as it gathers and analyzes the information obtained from other literature sources. All in all, the sample includes nine sources that are both primary and secondary. With the help of primary sources, official reports and original studies are obtained, which provides an opportunity to deepen the knowledge regarding a green economy with the focus on particular examples and true-to-life practices that were used by some countries. In this way, the paper becomes evidence-based, which makes it more valuable for utilization. However, secondary sources are also used. This step is explained by the fact that primary sources are focused on a particular country, which prevents the author from generalizing and making the paper useful for a larger audience. Professionals underline that a green economy cannot be adopted by different parties in the same way, because each of them has a range of differences. Thus, it is critical not only to discuss particular cases of successful transition and achievement of sustainable development but also to point out some general initiatives that can be undertaken by all countries on their initial steps toward a new economic approach. Secondary sources tend to be the most appropriate sources of information in this perspective because they allow them to see how other professionals assess, evaluate, and analyze those finding that were reached by their colleagues.

Of course, it is possible to base this paper on quantitative research and discuss the way countries’ economies improve with the transition toward a green economy. However, in this way, the focus of the work will be altered so that it will not be possible to fulfill those objectives that were pointed out in the introduction. Quantitative data will allow for the assessment of the benefits and/or drawbacks of a green economy in some perspectives. However, the required explanations of the concept, the challenges and advantages connected with them, and the discussion of those practices that developing countries should utilize to develop a transition toward a green economy can be thoroughly revealed only with the help of a qualitative approach that is focused on exploration and understanding.

Analysis

The transition toward a green economy is currently discussed as a great tool for economic development. Since the beginning of the 21st-century countries started paying more attention to environmental goods and services, which also affected their GDP (see Tab. 1). Being aware of these tendencies, Nwosu et al. (2015) focused on the way Nigeria maintained its green economy. This country as well as South Africa belongs to those that have adopted different growth strategies, which attracted professionals’ attention (see Tab. 2). They identified that it achieved a range of advantages due to such a step. First of all, the country reduced poverty rates so that social inequality became less critical. Almost 45% of Nigeria’s population lived in poverty in 1985, and this number was reduced to 34% in just four years. The discussed issue was resolved with the help of agricultural growth so that its decline led to the repetition of poverty increase at the end of the 20th century. However, such findings are enough to claim that there is a connection between the reduction of poverty and practices implemented under the influence of a green economy.

Annual Growth in the market for Environmental Goods and Services.
Tab. 1: Annual Growth in the market for Environmental Goods and Services (Sukhdev, Stone, & Nuttall, 2010, p. 43).
Countries that Focused on Growth Recently.
Tab. 2: Countries that Focused on Growth Recently (OECD, 2012, p. 19).

An increased number of vacancies and improved social welfare is also achieved due to the desire to achieve green growth. Professionals believe that those jobs that can be found in related spheres can increase global employment by 4% (Nwosu et al., 2015). Much emphasis can be put on manufacturing because it is likely to be affected by the necessity to extend the life of provided products as well as recycling and energy efficiency. Besides, a green economy provides countries with enabling conditions. For example, Nigeria designed a regulatory framework that allowed it to take business operations under control and reduce risks. It also developed green subsidies that can be used to manage natural capital, to develop green infrastructure and technologies, and to foster new industries. What is more, it allows for the strengthening government capacity, identifying clear market-based instruments, and implementing strategies for the further improvement of agricultural productivity and standards (Allen & Clouth, 2012).

Developing countries have a range of environmental issues that differ greatly from those that developed countries have. This fact affects the nature of initiatives and practices that are to be undertaken to enhance the situation and reach sustainable development with time. Thus, professionals must take into consideration the ways they can deal with “poor water, poor sanitation, crowded housing, sickness, diseases, and natural disasters” (Acharya & Sequeira, 2012, p. 10). These problems tend to occur because of inappropriate exploitation of resources and their unequal distribution. Developing countries must apply modern technologies to reach at least some enhancement. For instance, they need to focus on reforestation, protection of cropland, waste recycling, and the use of alternative energy resources.

When trying to transition to a green economy, South Africa focused on the necessity to increase economic activity in the related industries and to reach cleaner industries and sectors (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2017). The desire to make such a step was triggered by:

  • An understanding of environmental unsustainability. Those economic growth patterns that were used by the country failed to fulfill the country’s expectations regarding substantial growth.
  • The possibility of a climate crisis. To cope with climate change, the country had to increase investments but failed.
  • The necessity to achieve substantial transformation. Behaviors, technologies, and structures connected with the industry should be changed.

The challenges the country faced on its way to success mainly dealt with the possibility to lose those jobs that existed in the energy and mining sectors because they were affected by the transition more than others. In addition to that, the improvement of technology and the necessity to resort to innovations turned out to be rather difficult to maintain. The development of local skills and the adoption of new technologies required much time and effort as the workers had to alter their usual way of working and had to learn new information. It was also critical to provide new regulations so that the industry could be controlled and guided. A range of alterations led to increased production costs, which affected competitiveness and trade experiences. Finally, it was critical to discussing the possibility of alterations considering climate change mitigation (“The transition to a green economy”, 2011). Even though the country developed slowly, it had to deal with poverty as soon as possible to ensure that its population lives in appropriate conditions (see Fig. 1).

Poverty Rates.
Fig. 1: Poverty Rates ($1.25 per day) (OECD, 2012, p. 30).

The way South Africa moved toward a green economy can be observed in Fig. 2. It proves that this process is long-lasting and requires the implementation of those objectives that are considered in perspective.

South Africa’s transition toward a green economy.
Fig. 2: South Africa’s transition toward a green economy (Kaggwa, Mutanga, Nhamo, & Simelane, 2013).

In addition to those benefits that were discussed earlier, it is significant to mention that the transition to a green economy provided South Africa with the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the effects of global warming less critical than they could have been because they are increasing over time (see Fig. 3). In this way, it also positively affected people’s health. The representatives of the general public realized that nature is important. The green economy put a price on it so that people became motivated to protect it. Finally, agricultural improvements and reduction of deforestation enhance the situation in rural territories (Sukhdev et al. 2010).

Business and GHG Emissions.
Fig. 3: Business and GHG Emissions (Gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent/years) (OECD, 2012, p. 24).

Conclusion

Based on the discussed information, it can be concluded that the transition toward a green economy is a long-lasting process that differs depending on the country that utilizes it. With the help of qualitative analysis, the way Nigeria and South Africa maintained such an alteration was revealed. This approach provided an opportunity to fulfill those objectives of the paper that were outlined in its beginning. It was stated that a green economy is targeted at the improvement of living conditions for the representatives of the general public through the implementation of those initiatives that are connected with the environment. Using the information from nine authoritative sources, it was claimed that developing countries could face a range of challenges when transitioning toward a green economy, including the lack of attention paid to the social dimension, insufficient technology, and inequalities. It was emphasized that developing and developed counties tend to emphasize a green economy for different reasons. Nigeria and South Africa, for instance, wanted to cope with the poor quality of water, earth, and air; diseases; and lack of natural resources. As a result, they obtained an opportunity to reduce poverty rates, increase the number of vacancies, and control the business sphere. All in all, it can be claimed that even though every country should develop a separate plan for transitioning to a green economy, developing countries are likely to benefit from those practices discussed in this paper.

References

Acharya, S., & Sequeira, A. (2012). A model of green economy for developing countries. SSRN Electronic Journal, 1. Web.

Allen, C., & Clouth, S. (2012). Web.

Department of Environmental Affairs. (2017). Web.

Kaggwa, M., Mutanga, S., Nhamo, G., & Simelane, T. (2013). South Africa’s green economy transition: implications for reorienting the economy towards a low-carbon growth trajectory. Web.

Nwosu, F., Uhuegbulem, I., & Ben-Chendo, G. (2015). Green economy: A tool for achieving sustainable development and poverty reduction in Nigeria. European Journal of Academic Essays, 2(5), 1-4.

Ocampo, J., Cosbey, A., & Khor, M. (2012). Web.

OECD. (2012). Web.

Sukhdev, P., Stone, S., & Nuttall, N. (2010). Web.

(2011). Web.

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