Environmental Sustainability and Economic Development in Asia

In recent years, the economic development of the East Asian region has been booming. The region was among the least hard hit by the financial crisis.

 For example in China, although during exports did go down during the recession, the economy did not crash. This was largely because of various stimulus plans, and also the fact that China has been developing a system where they are gradually beginning to increase domestic consumption, which is a huge step ahead for China’s economy.

pushing towards green economy

 Asian countries, especially within the ASEAN region, which have strong economic ties with China are equally benefiting from China’s booming economy.

 However, with a better life, more pay and higher standards of living comes another problem – how to protect the environment. The economy is growing and so is the pollution. Numerous factors affect this. Some of them are industry, as well as the more increasing number of automobiles in major Asian cities. 

According to a recent study which was conducted by HSBC and published in the New York Times, “Climate change has consistently been among the major issues people worry about in each of the past three years, evoking a similar level of concern to global economic stability, terrorism and violence in everyday life.”

Another study also conducted in Hong Kong says that many people are afraid of the dangers climate change might bring to future generations. The Asia Development Bank (ADB) identifies sustainable environmental development as a “prerequisite for economic growth and poverty reduction in Asia and the Pacific”.   This is increasingly important, especially for South Asian countries, where poverty is a major problem and affects a vast majority of the population.

According to a report published by the World Bank poverty in South Asia is inextricably linked to the management of environmental and social development issues.  Sustainable natural resources management (including water resources management) and pollution management, especially related to outcomes of improved livelihoods, reduced environmental health risks, and reducing vulnerability, particularly of the region’s poor, is central to the Bank’s assistance in its client countries in South Asia and is consistent with the Bank and region’s environmental strategy”.   

Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while at the same time preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.

It is evident that the East Asian region is an important part of the world, and its role will continue that importance will continue to grow. It is necessary to develop the economy but at the same time concentrate on possible future implications it could have in the future.

However, measures are being taken in this area. For example, China is shifting to renewable energy so as to reduce carbon emission.

China has over 400 photovoltaic (solar energy production) companies and produces about 23% of the photovoltaic products worldwide.  Over the past six years China’s manufacturers grabbed 43 percent of the global photovoltaic-panel market over, pricing products as much as 20 percent cheaper than in Europe, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

According to Forbes magazine, China has about one quarter of the World’s solar panel production capacity, and Chinese companies are currently rapidly gaining market share, especially in Europe. This is mainly because of “driving down prices using their low-cost, large-scale factories,” reported Forbes.   

Efforts are being taken to guarantee sustainable development in the region. If this really can be achieved, it can make way for a number of opportunities in the future.

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