Green Growth in Southeast Asia

By on 13/11/2014 | Updated on 25/09/2020
Green growth in Southeast Asia needs to grow faster

‘Southeast Asia’s current growth model is unsustainable. The region has a perfect opportunity as it modernizes and builds up its infrastructure to shift to a green growth path.’ That is the view of Rintaro Tamaki, Deputy Secretary General of the OECD.

That view is based on both the overreliance on natural resources for economic growth as well as the increases in pollution and depletion in the region. In fact natural resources account for 20% of the region’s wealth, compared to an OECD average of just 2%.

Natural resources are being depleted at an increasing rate in Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam. A dependence on fossil fuels is driving up pollution which could drive up health costs and also impact on gains made in life expectancy.

Rapid growth in Southeast Asia has come at a cost to the environment which in turn, the OECD is concerned, will lead to lower growth, more pollution and potentially more problems with climate change.

Depleted rainforests, loss of topsoil and the loss of mangroves that protect the coasts are already issues. Coastal flooding in cities in Southeast Asia already costs hundreds of millions of dollars in economic loss every year, and this could rise to $6 billion by 2050 according to the OECD report, Towards Green Growth in Southeast Asia.

The overreliance on oil, wood, minerals and gas for economic growth is unsustainable. OECD modelling shows that GDP could drop by 5% by 2060 due to lower agricultural yields and rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

The answer, according to Mr Tamaki, is for governments in the region to draw up policies that would deliver a green growth agenda which could be built up as the infrastructure of the region expands.

‘Clear and predictable policies’, says Mr Tamaki, ‘would draw public and private funds to green infrastructure projects that can support long-term growth while preserving the environment.’



About Graham Scott

Graham is an experienced editor and publisher and an award-winning writer. He has travelled extensively and is interested in world cultures.

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