Last month, from December 8-14, 2017, Rwanda celebrated its annual Green Growth Week. The week is part of the country’s efforts geared at achieving economic growth through sustainable resources utilisation as well as safeguarding the environment. Rwanda is one of countries, making consistent efforts in achieving green and sustainable economic growth.
Green growth aims at fostering economic growth and development by ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which economies well-being relies. Green economic growth is part of the country’s developmental policies and some of endeavours include ban on use of plastic bags, maintaining minimum forest cover of 30 per cent, green funds and green projects, and enacting of the green development policies, among others.
Again, Rwanda is committed to green economic Transformation. Rwanda’s green growth and climate resilience strategy was launched in 2011 as one of steps towards sustainable economic growth and to address challenge of climatic change. Important components of this strategy are green fund and green projects financed by green fund. The country has established a national environment and climate fund for financing green projects.
It has thus developed a well-designed pathway for achieving green growth through various policies.
Globally all countries are required to adopt green economic growth strategy as a part of sustainable economic development and meet challenges of climatic change. Recently, the World Bank asserted on making green growth inclusive through three pronged pathway. Prong one relies on inclusive green growth strategies to maximise local benefits. The second prong includes promoting efficient and sustainable decision-making by policymakers, consumers, and the private sector. Prong three includes meeting up-front capital needs with innovative financing tools.
To make green growth strategy inclusive in developing countries there is need for enhancing awareness and information among common people. Enhancing awareness about green growth and environment protection among major stakeholders including people of rural and urban areas will make green economic growth strategy more practical.
According to some reports, a lot of environmental damage has been done due to lack of awareness among population. Therefore, there is need for people to understand the impact of their actions on environment and also how to protect environment for sustainability.
Generating awareness for environment in developing countries should be complemented with some laws like property Rights and Green penalties. Introducing property rights to community will help in reducing damage to environment. The creative extension of property rights to ecological resources could help address many environmental problems. Particularly in the case of natural resources, property rights are a viable and demonstrated means of enhancing sustainability, particularly when compared to the available political alternatives.
A study in Kenya compared the rights and incentives of user groups for forest resource management in the Mount Elgon National Park, with those of users in the Mount Elgon forest reserve. The author’s found that in the Forest Reserve, which represented decentralised management, local community involvement in decision-making and in rule crafting and enforcement resulted in positive incentives for forest conservation.
Again green penalty will also help in reducing environmental damage. Many countries imposed green penalty as a deterrent to protect environment laws. In India Green Penalty includes money and also imprisonment. The money collected through penalty is used for reclamation of affected environmental sites. Such penalties are quite common in Europe and American countries. The United States government regulates activities that impact the environment through a complex scheme of statutes and agency regulations.
Inclusive green growth strategy can provide a pathway to more sustainable progress in developing countries, like Rwanda, that reconciles the urgent need for continued growth by avoiding unsustainable growth patterns and environmental damages.
It is important to understand that green growth strategies in developing countries represent a change in how these nations manage economies to reflect a broader notion of what constitutes effective and sustainable growth.
However, for green growth strategies to be sustainable they should be well designed as per a country’s development strategy. There is need for well-designed inclusive green growth policies to improve social welfare by taking into account actions of, not only present, but also future generations.
Policy-makers have dual role to play in development of green growth strategies; they have to devise environmental policies and, two, they also have to promote those policies to enhance practise and adoption by population.
Property rights and green penalty, among other interventions, could help in enhancing environmental protection in developing countries.
The writer is a Kigali-based economist and consultant.