Can development and sustainability go hand-in-hand?

Nearly half the world’s population struggle to meet their basic needs — surviving on less than $5.50 a day according to the World Bank. Although economic growth can increase inequality, it’s generally accepted that it’s vital to improving livelihoods in developing countries. But what does that mean for the environment?

Words

Beth Parker

This article by Beth Parker was featured in The Beam #9 – subscribe now for more.


 

Setting the stage: A recent history of economic development

“Humanity stood atop the slippery slope of fossil fuel usage. We’ve been hurtling down it ever since — and it’s only recently that we started trying to apply the breaks.”

Urbanisation and the environment

– The energy usage in large towns and cities tends to be high and concentrated: say hello to air pollution and poor water qualit
– Densely-populated areas are bad for plants and animals too: they present loss of habitat and reduced access to clean air and water
– Waste management becomes a major issue.

Photo by Rodgers Otieno Photo by Rodgers Otieno

Can today’s developing countries do it better?

Cause for optimism #1: Green Cities

Cause for optimism #2: Energy

What have we learnt?