Tag Archives: economic development

Inclusive Green Economy and Structural Transformation in Africa

Over the last decade, African economies recorded impressive economic growth rates. Economic growth remains vigorous and growth is forecasted to be 5.5% in 2013-2014 in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, almost a third of the countries in the region are growing at 6% or more. African countries are now routinely among the fastest growing countries in the world (World Bank, 2013). Despite the remarkable economic performance, Africa has the world’s highest proportion of poor people and is off track to meeting key MDGs (ECA, 2014). It is also projected that the continent’s population will increase by approximately 800 million people by 2040, putting even more pressure on natural resources. The challenge confronting the region therefore is not only to maintain, but to translate the rapid economic growth into sustained and inclusive development, based on economic diversification that creates jobs, contributes to reduced inequality and poverty, and enhances access to basic services. This underlies the renewed calls by countries for a structural transformation that fosters sustained and inclusive economic growth (Lin, 2012). Rodrik(2013) notes that while East Asian countries grew rapidly and turned their farmers into manufacturing workers, diversified their economies, and exported a range of increasingly sophisticated goods, little of that is taking place in Africa today.

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Sustainable employment in a non-growth oriented economy

In recent years, debates have strongly resurfaced whether it is at all possible to approach sustainability within an economic, social and political system that places the idea of growth in the centre of attention. Many envision – including the present authors – that solutions to such complex issues can now only be handled by finding suitable transition paths to alternative paradigms and institutional
settings moving beyond the concept of economic growth. The idea of a steady-state or de-growth economy does not project the idea of a stationary state (Daly, 1977; Kallis et al, 2012). In such an economy, the combination and ratio of the four value-producing capitals (natural, social, human, and man-made) would also be continuously changing, only welfare would rely more on the qualitative gratification and less on the quantitative expansion of material and energy-intensive transformations. However, the most challenging question is how this transition from our current economic paradigm to a non-growth oriented economy can take place and what policy measures may support this transition.

This brief is based on the experience and results of a backcasting research project conducted in Hungary in 2012-2013. Backcasting is a preferred method in transition management – particularly with regard to sustainability issues – as it facilitates the deliberation of complex socio-economic issues and enables participants to think freely outside the realms of present cognitive frames
and still find adequate, future-oriented policy answers (Robinson et al, 2011). As opposed to the extrapolation of the present trends used in forecasting, backcasting starts with the establishment of a normative vision of the future and tracks its way back from this vision to currently feasible policies providing a bridge between the desired future and the present state. In the case of this particular
Hungarian backcasting exercise sustainable employment scenarios were developed and policy recommendations were determined for reaching such a desired future (Köves et al, 2013a; Köves et al, 2013b).

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Development of natural product drugs in a sustainable manner

For approximately 85% of the world’s population, plant materials are a primary source of health care (Fabricant & Farnsworth 2001). This fact is not sufficiently accepted by pharmaceutical companies that are producing synthetic drugs for decades as solutions for incurable diseases. Knowledge of plants and their medicinal properties that were transmitted from generation to generation is in danger of disappearing. Developed countries in alliance with their large pharmaceutical companies, constantly in the struggle for new markets, do not permit the development of local pharmaceutical companies in developing countries.

Although it is generally known that nature provides right solutions in a form of medicinal plants corresponding exactly to the homeland of a particular human community, it often happens that we treat diseases with preparations originating from very distant countries. Even nowadays, we are facing a paradox with the same problem present for centuries: Outside parties frequently manipulate and interfere with local policy makers in order to gain access to local communities’ environmental resources. In addition, mainstream science and more developed society exploit environmental knowledge for locating and extracting natural resources, and making use of medicinal plants for commercial purposes. Developing communities or countries rarely benefit economically. At a time when we are facing global economic crisis, which most severely affects developing countries, assistance in raising their own capacities, including development of renewable natural products, would strengthen the economy of these countries, and economically unburden the rest of the world.

Humankind is not sufficiently aware that natural products drug discovery is important for new generations as a tool for their health care (Cordell & Colvard 2012). We know that for the major lethal diseases, there are no truly effective drug treatments. In addition, drug resistance to existing chemotherapeutic regimens for fungal and bacterial infections, AIDS, cancer, and malaria is increasing. Because of the challenges for health care in the future, this is the call for decision-makers, governments, international agencies, and pharmaceutical companies to commit to the sustainable development of natural products as medicinal
agents, particularly in developing countries.

Medicinal plants, both endemic and widespread, their resources and knowledge about their usage must be preserved since these plants could be renewable source for new drugs. It is known that chemicals and chemical reagents are typically non-renewable, and their use depletes our future resources. Consequently, all drug discovery programs, synthetic or natural, must be the concept of sustainability (Cordell 2011).

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Sustainability and economic de-growth

A major problem that permeates human development today are the limits that the Earth’s ecosystem imposes on efforts to persist in an increasing economic growth. With the end of the Cold War the
environmental issue gained relevance but the economic interests still speak louder. The pattern of development based on the model of the Industrial Revolution still remains and is structured as unsustainable. But this unbridled growth resulted in speculative bubbles and crises which further harm the ecosystem and do not cooperate in a sustainable and more equitable society. Michael Renner of World Watch Institute says: "In general, environmental governance was relegated to the sidelines in search of economic globalization driven by corporate interests – a process that has been marked by
deregulation and privatization and the relative weakening of political institutions national "(Renner, 2012).

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World Market Economic Conditions, Diversification of Income, Indigenous Economy and Philippine Economic Conditions with Regards to Sustainable Development

At the international level, financial markets affect global investments of the different countries. Meanwhile, global investments impact the imports, exports, global employment, labour and demand for products and services worldwide. According to the International Monetary Fund Report (2011), the global market has been
vulnerable to the risks caused by certain financial, economic and political conditions. ‘Markets may lose patience and become disorderly if political developments derail momentum on fiscal consolidation and financial repair and reform’ (IMF, 2011).

On the other hand, the focus now of the individuals in the global society has been on how to have a higher financial capital. Income diversification is one of the strategies that can help to achieve this end (Kasem,2007). In particular, this would be through diversifying on-farm and off-farm activities especially in the rural
areas. In addition, according to the study of DeMurger (2010), the factors that affected the income diversification of households in northern China included education, migration, household position asset position and working resources, labor force and availability of local credit institutions. Moreover, income diversification also depends on one’s location, practices and the demand for labor. However, the farmers and indigenous peoples who are living in rural areas of
the different countries have been continually struggling to diversify their sources of income without losing their lands. These same situations were evident in the findings of Lopez and Sierra (2011) about the indigenous Jivaroan cultivation systems of Western Amazonia and in the study of Himley (2009) about conservation, interventions and struggles of rural Andean communities to assert territorial authority and to consolidate their livelihoods’ where social capital also plays an important role (Himley, 2009).

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Fostering sustainable economic growth by redefining competitiveness and industrial policy: Towards a systemic policy approach aligned with beyond-GDP goals

Industrial policy is back on the agenda and the consensus is that it must be different ‘this time’ from the past. Following Aiginger et al. (2013) we redefine industrial policy for industrialised countries as a strategy to promote ‘high-road competitiveness’, understood as the ability of an economy to achieve ‘Beyond-GDP’ Goals. ‘Highroad strategies’ are based on advanced skills, innovation, supporting institutions, ecological ambition and an activating social policy. This ‘new industrial policy’ is systemic, working in alignment with other policy strands and supporting social and environmental goals; it affects the structure of the economy as the whole not only the manufacturing sector. Shortterm actions, such as protecting employment in unviable companies, low prices for fossil fuels, or reducing wages in high-income economies are counterproductive. To pursue an industrial policy that targets society’s ultimate goals without public micromanagement will be challenging. It could be achieved (i) by setting incentives, particularly those impacting on technical progress (e.g. to make it less labour-saving and more energy-saving), (ii) by the use of the important role governments have in the education and research sectors, (iii) by greater public awareness and (iv) if consumer preferences will call for socio-ecological transition.

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中国东部地区区域经济发展效率评价研究 (Evaluation of regional economic development in Eastern China)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
本文结合我国东部地区经济发展的情况,采用数据包络分析方法,选取投资、土地和人员等资源要素作为经济系统的 输入要素,以环境利用和生产总值作为产出要素进行客观评价,研究发展作为我国经济发展相对发展的区域其经济发展效率仍然存在 相对明显的差异,无论是技术效率还是规模效率方面都存在不同的特点,评价结果可以作为未来经济发展提升和改进的方向。


The scientific and socio-economic importance of karst and caves and their vulnerability

The karst landscape takes its name from a region comprised between northeast Italy and Slovenia, dominated by outcrops of carbonate rocks. Karst refers to an ensemble of morphological and hydrological features and the dominant process responsible for them: dissolution of soluble rocks (mostly carbonates and gypsum, but also halite and quartzite) (Gutierrez et al., 2014). In karst landscapes surface and subsurface rock dissolution largely overrules mechanical erosion, leading to a distinctive morphology and hydrology. Over 20% of the earth crust is characterized by epigean and/or hypogean karst phenomena (Ford and Williams, 2007).

Finally karst processes, along underground pathways, may give rise to the formation of three-dimensional systems of conduits, sometimes forming huge, long and extremely complex caves (White, 2002).

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