Towards Green Growth in Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia’s booming economy offers tremendous growth potential, but also large and interlinked economic, social and environmental challenges. The region’s current growth model is based in large part on natural resource exploitation, exacerbating these challenges. This report provides evidence that, with the right policies and institutions, Southeast Asia can pursue green growth and thus sustain the natural capital and environmental services, including a stable climate, on which prosperity depends.

Carried out in consultation with officials and researchers from across the region, Towards Green Growth in Southeast Asia provides a framework for regional leaders to design their own solutions to move their countries towards green growth. While recognising the pressures that Southeast Asian economies face to increase growth, fight poverty and enhance well-being, the report acknowledges the links between all these dimensions and underscores the window of opportunity that the region has now to sustain its wealth of natural resources, lock-in resource-efficient and resilient infrastructure, attract investment, and create employment in the increasingly dynamic and competitive sectors of green technology and renewable energy.

Some key policy recommendations are that these challenges can be met by scaling up existing attempts to strengthen governance and reform countries’ economic structure; mainstreaming green growth into national development plans and government processes; accounting for the essential ecosystem services provided by natural capital, ending open-access natural resource exploitation; and guiding the sustainable growth of cities to ensure well-being and prosperity.


The case for green growth in Southeast Asia

The ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will need to shift to a more sustainable development path in order to sustain economic growth, reduce poverty and achieve durable gains in well-being. Natural capital accounts for more than 20% of total wealth, well above the 2% average in OECD countries. Yet the rapid economic growth the region has enjoyed in the recent past has relied on intensive resource exploitation and is leading to the depletion of natural capital. Growing rates of pollution threaten health and productivity and, though still relatively low, ASEAN countries’ share of global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to surge. The chapter outlines a set of framework policies for greening growth in the region, ranging from improving governance, tax reforms and the removal of fossil fuel subsidies to upgrading competition and labour market policies. It proposes a set of green growth indicators that can help policy makers to track progress towards green growth and evaluate policies.


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