Green Growth: Developed vs. Developing Nations

Difference between Developed and Developing

Before getting into the policy portion of this post, a distinction needs to be made between developing and developed nations. While they clearly have different connotations, the definitions are quite fluid and often prompt controversy.

Nevertheless, Princeton University defines a “developed” nation as one that has a high level of development according to certain criteria. Often, economic criteria have dominated the discussion, but recently the Human Development Index (HDI), which combines an economic measure with other measures, such as life expectancy and education, has become a more common use. Those with a very high HDI are considered “developed.”

Contrarily, a “developing” country is one in which the nation has a low level of material well-being or lower levels of HDI.

As no universal definition of either “developed” or “developing” is accepted, the interpretation varies per study. However, for the purposes of this post, the two definitions above, along with accepted identities of nations, will be used to clarify the boundary.

Green growth and Developing countries

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), green growth, a combination of economic policy and sustainable development, attempts to reduce poverty by bolstering economic growth and to address resource scarcity and climate change by improving environmental management. However, while green technology is generally more affordable by developed countries with robust economies, investment is particularly important for developing countries.

  1. The potential impacts, both economic and social, of environmental degradation are unique for developing countries, as they are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and as they tend to be more dependent on the exploitation of natural resources for economic growth than developed nations. Additionally, developing nations face risks from premature deaths due to pollution, poor water quality, and diseases at rates higher than developed nations.
  2. Although developing nations contribute smaller shares of global greenhouse gas emissions than developed nations, they will increase emissions if they follow conventional economic growth patterns.

However, as a report from Duke’s Law School points out, while developing nations have growing demands for climate-friendly processes and technologies, they often face many barriers because of trade policies and intellectual property regulations. Proposed by the study, one solution to the problem would be the establishment of a “global exchange forum in which transnational green technology holders, green venture capitalists, and developing country entrepreneurs could broker for efficient allocation of investment, resources, and technologies.”

Some developing nations have already taken steps to implement green growth policies. Viewed as successful, these regulations and processes are being initiated by other developing nations.

  • Costa Rica: discourages deforestation by paying forest owners through taxes on fuel and water for the environmental services that the forest produces, such as watershed and biodiversity protection.
  • Nepal: recognizes community forest user groups as autonomous bodies for managing and using community forests, generating employment and income from forest protection, tree felling, log extraction, and non-timber forest products and restoring forest resources.
  • Bangladesh: WasteConcern, an enterprise founded in Bangladesh, turns roadside organic waste into agricultural compost, saving millions in foreign currency by avoiding the import of chemical fertilizer. Annually, 124,400 tons of waste is processed, and 986 direct jobs are created.

By helping developing nations gain access to green growth and technology, a core objective of the “bright green” framework mentioned in Profiling Environmentalism, they will be able to simultaneously grow their economies and tackle environmental degradation. Economic growth and environmental sustainability are considered the twin objectives of the bright green framework, objectives that should be embraced by every nation, particularly those with a “developing” status.

Tanner Davis is a research associate at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

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