OECD Development Centre Working Papers

The OECD Development Centre links OECD members with developing and emerging economies and fosters debate and discussion to seek creative policy solutions to emerging global issues and development challenges. This series of working papers is intended to disseminate the OECD Development Centre’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned. These papers are generally available in the original English or French, with a summary in the other language.

English, French

Grow Now/Clean Later, or the Pursuit of Sustainable Development?

This paper is a contribution to the ongoing debate on the relationship between economic growth and the environment. Through a contrast of the experiences of two regional groupings of countries — East Asia and Eastern Europe — that have both experienced rapid industrialisation, it makes clear the importance of sound economic policy in encouraging efficient resource use. At the same, by contrasting the experiences of different East Asian countries, it demonstrates that economic policy is not sufficient. In the absence of reinforcing and enforceable environmental policies, rapid urban and industrial growth can cause severe environmental degradation.

The paper addresses indirectly the question: what are the costs and benefits of delaying environmental expenditures until late in the development process as some of the high performing East Asian economies have done? It finds that those countries which invested early in environmental improvements experienced virtually no tradeoff in ...


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