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UAE’s Economic Progress: A Symbol to Follow

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) has transformed into a regional trading hub of the Middle-East and is on a road to becoming a trading center of the world. It has grown into a business capital and is recognized as the wealthiest in the region with the GDP per capitaincome of $49500. UAE has managed to gain this position due to its enormous gas and oil reserves since UAE has the third largest gas and oil reserves of the OPEC. Previously, the UAE was highly dependent on oil and natural gas as it comprised 40% of total exports and 38% of GDP. However, efforts are being made to diversify the economy and reduce the dependency on oil revenues by investing in tourism, financial, and construction sectors. The diversification ofthe economy is rapidly becoming a success story and a role model for others to follow.

The UAE had a different medium for economic growth throughout the years. Until the 1930s, pearl fishing proved profitable but after the Great Depression and the invention of cultured pearls in Japan caused the Emirates’ pearl business to collapse. In the 1960s, oil replaced pearls as the medium of economic growth. The oil proved to be highly profitable and it altered the dynamics of the country and transformed it into one of the richest states in the world. Oil production attracted foreign investments and trade and allowed the UAE to fund the development of other sectors such as cement plants, food industry, and tourism.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al- Maktoum succeeded in 2006 with a vision in his mind which later changed the image of the UAE in the world. He is credited with the rapid economic expansion of Dubai in particular. In 2010 he launched the UAE vision of 2021 intending to make the UAE ‘one of the best countries in the world’ by 2021. He launched a number of major enterprises such as Emirates Airline, Jumeriah group, and DP world. His economic vision led to Dubai becoming a global city with free economic zones, technology parks, International Finance Centre, the Palm islands and the Burj Al Arab hotel. In 2016, the government announced a long-term planned to multi-diversify the economy of the UAE to attract businesses and investments in other sectors like knowledge-based industries than oil to reduce the dependency on the energy sector as a source of economic activity.

UAE VISION 2021

The UAE vision of 2021 is to be ‘one of the best countries in the world’ by 2021. Their aim is to be united in the notion of knowledge, prosperity, destiny and responsibility. The government of UAE has announced a plan through which they will introduce high quality global standard infrastructure, government services and recreational environments.This will help promote a business environment and lure foreign investments in the country.

Since the economy of the UAE is centered on international trade and financial services; it offers favorable tax conditions which have made UAE into a ‘tax haven’. The favorable tax condition is a result of the domination of the extractive sector, and a minimal bureaucratic burden which has made the running of businesses easier. This environment has fostered considerable foreign capital and investments from all over the world.

In order to implement this vision, the government put forward the strategy that would act as a benchmark for the federal entities to develop their strategic plans. The strategy was divided into 7 general principles. These are the following principles:-

  • To enhance the role of national entities in carrying out operative regulations and cohesive policies by successful planning and implementation.
  • To strengthen coordination and cooperation among national entities and the local government.
  • To focus primarily on delivering high class, customer based and integrated government services.
  • To invest in human resource sector and create new leaders.
  • To promote efficient resource management within the national entities and facilitate partnerships.
  • To create a strategic culture to promote uninterrupted performance improvement and produce excellent results
  • To ensure transparence in order to enhance the accountability mechanisms of the government throughout the federal entities.

These steps have encouraged the change in the economic environment of the UAE and have facilitated the growth of UAE into the second largest economy in the Arab gulf with the fastest expanding economies of the world. In the past 40 years, UAE’s GDP has increased exponentially from $6.5 billion in 1971 to a whopping amount of $1248 billion in 2011. It accounted for 192x increase in Dubai’s GDP per capita which has increased from 100,000 dirhams (1975) to 174,000 dirhams (2011). This excellent success prompted international organizations, to name Dubai along with China, Turkey, India, Singapore, Russia, Malaysia and Brazil, among the world’s top emerging markets.

According to local and international estimates, steady economic growth has not resulted solely from energy output and oil exports, it has resulted from diversifying income streams and reducing oil dependence. Moreover, according to recent oil contribution figures, GDP has fallen from 70% in 1971 to 29% in 2010. This approach portrays the country’s significant economic achievement as it highlights a big contribution to the national economy’s stability. The recent report published by IMF shows that GDP growth of UAE will raise from 3.3% in 2011 to 3.8% in 2012.

To further capitalize the environment of UAE, the government made the protection of environment a priority of its government developmental strategy. Agriculture was also extensively discussed by the UAE government, and given the question of scarcity and desertification the government was successful in achieving goals. The key target for agriculture sector development and growth was the provision of food to the local economy. It is because the government finds it an aspect of national security. Similarly, the industrial sector has boomed considerably in the recent years with investments in this sector in 2010 amounting to DH101.12 billion (IMF). Nearly 4960 industries have been developed which created employment opportunities for the youth. It clearly demonstrates the federal and local government’s vision of improving and expanding the Industrial market.

UAE has managed to create a modern infrastructure which meets the requirements of the business world and their people likewise. The infrastructure includes not only highways, power and bridges but also transcends open, specialized and economic zones. The free zones are more than 30 in size, and are widely spread across the emirates. .The Abu Dhabi and Dubai real estate industry significantly contributed to the country’s transformation. In these states, the real estate has been referred to as the world-renowned with its contemporary concepts and designs.

Over the years even, the tourism sector has grown tremendously. In 2010, the number of tourist visiting reached over a 10 million. The influx of private and foreign investments has contributed majorly to the development of the tourist sector. In the last 10 years, 47 billion dirhams investment went into the tourism sector. A report published by IMF in 201, ranked the Dubai airport as the fourth best Airport in the world.

Moving towards the foreign trade, it accounts for 70% of UAE’s GDP. The country has a broad network of trading partners all over the world and they all enjoy bilateral trade relations. International trade is expected to rise by more than 25 per cent after 2011, due to significant changes in the UAE’s (Trade) economic climate. The UAE is among the world’s biggest exporters and importers with $235 billion in exports and $170 billion in imports. The exports contribute to 2% of the total world exports while the imports accounts for 1.4% of the total world imports.

Furthermore, the financial services sector of UAE has seen rapid growth as well. This was facilitated by the commercial and specialized banks of the UAE which played an important role in sponsoring economic activity and commerce in the country. There are 51 banks in the country including 23 national banks. Another contributing factor is the establishment of the financialmarketswhich havemobilized domestic savings. The Dubai Internationalfinancial market has become a free economic zones for the markets in the Middle East.

Another important step taken by the government was the e-government project. It was an attempt to promote electronic payment method for accessing federal government services. This encourages the local level entities to start e-services as well which proved to be time efficient andcost efficient.The e-government strategy helped maximize the efficiency of the UAE by the provision of world class practices in all the areas of E-government. The strategic plan was further sub-divided into 3 parts: E-services, E-readiness and ICT environment. The E-government proved to be a successful gamble and is now operating on local levels as well.

Likewise, The E-Commerce is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the UAE e-commerce law and certification services. It promotes adherence to the laws and regulations that allow safe and secure e-commerce transactions. The ultimate goal and mission of the E-commerce department is to promote economic development and technological advancement and innovation within the defined limits of a regulatory e-commerce regime that is fully in line with global standards. It also aims to create a regulatory and licensing framework that will be responsible for providing optimum development and fostering innovation, growth, competitiveness and significant investment in UAE ICT and the ecommerce sector, by adopting best global practices and standards while reacting to market needs and local consumers.

ABU DHABI ECONOMIC VISION 2030

After the completion of major objectives of the UAE’s economic vison plan of 2021, the government has launched another economic vision plan for 2030 in which they hope to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). The first initiative was started in 2016 which the introduction of the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy. The goal of this strategy is to establish the image of the UAE as the leading hub of 3D printing technology by the year 2030 by ensuring that 25% buildings in Dubai would be based on 3D printing technology by 2030.

Moreover, Dubai Industrial Strategy is launched to elevate Dubai into a global hub for knowledge-based, sustainable and innovation-focused businesses. The primary aim is to increase the total output and of the manufacturing sector by through innovation in order to make Dubai a manufacturing platform for global businesses and create an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient center for the global Islamic products market. This will help create additional revenue of AED 160 billion by 2030.

Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy aims to revolutionize the transportation sector to autonomous mode by 2030. This will generate AED 22 billion by reducing the transportation costs by 44%, carbon emissions, and enhancing the efficiency of individuals while saving time wasted in conventional transportation. The government has also started Abu Dhabi Transportation Mobility Management Strategy which will encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport and reduce traffic jams.

Abu Dhabi government has developed an environmental vision 2030 to ensure integration among the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic and social vision. This seeks to protect and improve the natural heritage of Abu Dhabi in the efficient use of resources and lead to a better quality of life for everyone. The top priority of its plan is to minimize the impact of climate change, reduce water and air pollution to ensure healthy living standards and preserve the bio-diversity and habitats of animals.

The Government of Abu Dhabi announced an economic plan for the transformation of the emirate’s economy. The plan aims to further reduce the reliance on the oil sector as a source of economic activity and a greater focus on knowledge-based industries in the future. It aims to achieve this goal by building an efficient and effective globally integrated business environment, manage levels of inflation, support the labor market and enhance their skills.

Moreover, UAE has begun the construction of the largest single-site solar park in the world, The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. It is estimated to generate 1,000 Mega Watt by 2020 and 5,000 MW by 2030. The project aims to build the world’s tallest solar tower, measuring 260m. This project was originally started under the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 to promote the use of clean energy in Dubai’s total power output to 7% by 2020, 25% by 2030 and 75% by 2050.

CONCLUSION

The recent developments and achievements of the UAE has transformed it into a leading country in the world with constant innovations and increased international trade.It has managed to reduce the dependency on the energy sector considerably by investing heavily in manufacturing, tourism, IT sector. The UAE Economic Vision Plan 2021 and Abu Dhabi Economic Vision plan 2030 will further elevate the international standing of the UAE in the global politics as the leading economic country in the world.

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Connectivity now. Boosting flows of people, information, energy, goods and services

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Northern Dimension

On April 8, St Petersburg hosted the 12th Northern Dimension Forum. This forum, established in 2007, is a major annual corporate business event for cooperative policy and brings business directors and potential investors from Russia and the European Union including the Baltics, and Scandinavia.

The forum was organized by the Northern Dimension Business Council in cooperation with the Association of European Businesses, the Graduate School of Management at St Petersburg State University and the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management.

This forum was devoted to the theme: “Connectivity now. Boosting flows of people, information, energy, goods and services.” It was attended by over 400 representatives of Russian and foreign business circles, government agencies and scientific, education and non-governmental organizations.

Leading business experts of the partnerships of the Northern Dimension, the Institute and the Association of European Businesses discussed topical issues and opportunities for promoting cooperation in environmental protection, the circular economy, energy efficiency, transport and logistics, healthcare digitization, efforts to overcome the aftereffects of the coronavirus pandemic and creative industries.

As expected, the forum helps to take another major step forward in discussing many strategic spheres of business between Russia and those regions. There were plenary meetings as well as sessions working groups. Despite the contradictory signals between Russia and the European Union, it was another opportunity to have some fruitful dialogue, especially in the current difficult conditions, – develop solutions on a wide range of cooperation issues in the North of Europe.

On the other hand, business institutions and the entire system of economic relations are still evolving for these years, indicating that there is no alternative to reasonable cooperation. It is however necessary to find common business language in the fields and other spheres of crucial importance for international cooperation.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s report pointed out to a diversified and multifaceted nature of regional cooperation in Northern Europe. It said the important components include the programs of cross-border and interregional cooperation between Russia and EU countries (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden), plus Norway.

There are programs underway within the framework of the current budget cycle that involves over 500 Russian project partners, and new programs are being prepared for the next seven-year period.

They reaffirmed their willingness to broaden versatile and mutually beneficial cooperation for the sustainable development of Europe. It emerged from a number of reports during the forum that trade and economic relations are now remarkably expanding between the European Union and Russia.

Over the years, the business growth has been driven by the efforts of the business community. This has also to do with the quality of economic exchanges and investment, businesses’ interest in expanding to new markets, and their confidence that these markets provide drivers for economic growth. Admittedly, trade decreased for various reasons since 2013, it then reached $417 billion, but later shrank to a mere $200 billion.

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North Macedonia’s Journey to the EU

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macedonia

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s new cabinet is confronted with a number of economic challenges, exacerbated by the economic hit to the global economy caused by the pandemic In 2021, North Macedonia will take economic decisions that will shape the course of the country’s future.

The issues Skopje faces

Despite a modest population of 2-million, North Macedonia repeatedly makes headlines, often due to apparently  intractable disputes with neighbouring countries. Athens’s trade embargo imposed on North Macedonia in the 1990s marked the start of a 27 year deadlock between the two countries, which ultimately stalled North Macedonia’s accession to the EU. Only recently did Skopje resolve the dispute with neighbouring Greece over its official name which Greece had previously taken issue with due to the fact that ‘Macedonia’ is also a region of Greece, and the use of this name was interpreted by Greece to be an assertion of territorial ambitions in the region.

This dispute affected the country’s other diplomatic ventures. In 1999, North Macedonia was one of the first post-Yugoslav signatories of the NATO membership action plan, only to have its accession vetoed by Greece in 2008.  Ultimately, North Macedonia’s Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU has not been the diplomatic catalyst that Skopje hoped would ease  localised tensions and draw it into a closer relationship with Brussels.

Under the leadership of Nikola Gruveski (2006-2016), corruption and state capture were endemic in North Macedonia. Gruveksi was averse to opening negotiations with mainstream governments in Greece and it was not until the centre-left Social Democratic Union of Macedonia ousted  Gruveski out of power, that there was a breakthrough. Gruveski’s successor, Zoran Zaev, capitalised on Greek Prime Minister Tsipras’s reformism to broker the controversial Prespa Agreement which settled the name dispute. Two years later, North Macedonia was finally admitted to NATO, demonstrating that Greece was the final hurdle to NATO membership.

A tamed economy

However, North Macedonia soon found that NATO membership was not a passport to joining the EU. Internal ethnic tensions have created friction with EU member states. Relations with Bulgaria soured during the election campaign for July 2020 during which the campaigns of both main political parties played on anti-Bulgarian sentiment..Zaev managed to gain power by agreeing to a coalition with the main part of the Albanian minority.  The new cabinet’s economic hurdles, specifically fiscal redistribution, could be exacerbated by renewed ethnic tensions between the Slav majority and the Albanian minority. Should tensions reach the levels of the 2001 civil conflict, the deepening of this fracture would   slow down reforms and deter investments.

Bouncing back after the fall

The Balkan countries suffered greatly during the Great Recession due to their proximity to the Greek economy at a time when Athens navigated the worst slowdown of recent history. As Greece’s second largest export partner, the RNM was particularly hard hit(Figure 3a). The region had barely entered recovery before lockdown measures crippled world economic growth. In addition, North Macedonia’s small internal market is heavily reliant  on external demand which the crisis has depleted. In Q1-Q2 2020, exports fell by 22.3% and industrial production by 14.6% compared to the same period of the previous year. Thus, GDP fell by 14.9% in Q2 of 2020 and another 3.3% in Q3 contrary to the  projected 3.2 percent growth (Figure 7). Whilst forecasts suggest growth of 5.5% in 2021, the unpredictability of the pandemic’s economic influence may yet compromise this figure.

Meanwhile, rating agencies downgraded North Macedonia’s national debt, in turn raising financing costs. the RNM’s debt was downgraded by some rating agencies, raising financing costs. Fitch, the American credit rating agency, as well as  Moody’s, another US-based credit rating agency, both value North Macedonia’s debt as a non-recommended investment asset to be reserved for short-term gain. Since May 2020 the outlook has been negative, suggesting the situation will worsen. Yet, with one of the comparatively smallest debt-GDPs of the region, these ratings are still the best in South-Eastern Europe after Bulgaria meaning the RNM has a relatively solid economic base (Figure 4).

The country’s effective response to the pandemic is in part the reason that North Macedonia is economically stronger than some of its neighbours. The caretaker government introduced a furlough scheme, worth approximately 5.5 percent of GDP, as well as a helicopter money initiative. Going forward, the government is prioritising policies that will stimulate economic growth such as slashing parafiscal charges and cutting VAT. Yet, since North Macedonia lacks the economic resources to commit to long-term reform, recovery will be slow.

North Macedonia’s Shifting Demographics

North Macedonia is contending with mass emigration in tandem with declining fertility rates  (Figure 5) — both of which reduce human capital. The official estimate of two-million residents is dubitable, with some experts hypothesising an actual figure of approximately 1.5 million. Inaccurate projections of a state’s total population jeopardises effective government decision making. In the RNM, where the resources are redistributed amongst ethnic groups pro quota, this makes fiscal management particularly difficult. If, for example, the proportion of Albanians of the total population was lower than estimated, then this group will be receiving more public resources that they are entitled to.

Given that the EU acts in a starkly-protectionist way by restricting trade with third countries, greater cooperation is in the RNM’s interest. In fact, Brussels could reduce trade barriers in the context of a stronger association with Skopje even before the latter formally joins the Union.

There are steps the government can take to encourage citizens not to emigrate . The first and most crucial step would be to improve the education system. Overall, North Macedonia spends much less of its GDP than the average EU country on education. As a result, few people complete their secondary-level education, and therefore either end up in low-paying jobs or unemployed, andare forced to emigrate for work. Another step would be investment in the underfunded Research and Development (R&D) sector. In fact, North Macedonia’s budget allocates only 0.36% of GDP to R&D, compared to an EU average of 2.2% and neighbouring Bulgaria’s 0.77%. Research and development is essential to creating high-paying  jobs, driving productivity, and boosting the economy through innovation and market competition.

Infrastructures as the drive for future growth

The silver lining in North Macedonia’s economic strategy is infrastructure development. This especially true for roads and highways. Grueveski’s administration was instrumental in the investment into road infrastructure,  starting works for two new highways in 2014.

Still, roads can be rather useless if they do lead nowhere. Thus come trade infrastructures. In addition to new road, the building of new border checkpoints and crossing points with Greece and Bulgaria, will bolster the trade infrastructure that North Macedonia shares with the EU, thereby driving trade with a global economic powerhouse. These investments will also reduce the RNM’s dependence on the Yugoslav-time north-south arteries, which currently present a barrier for the development of the “functioning market economy” that is a requirement for EU membership. To achieve this goal, the RNM needs to improve, road connections towards the west (with Albania) and the east (with Bulgaria, an important trading partner). Building better connections within the country and with non-Yugoslav neighbours will boost the country’s internal cohesion by making it easier to move from one part of the country to another proving supplemental infrastructures to foster international trade.

Figure 6 Highways represent a key segment of the RNM’s investments.

A secondary and related benefit of improving connectedness with EU trade routes is reduced economic dependence on Russia. This should reduce Moscow’s potential diplomatic leverage in future disputes in the region. As a matter of fact, pulling out of Moscow’s orbit is almost a precondition to full membership in the EU — which would bring in more funding opportunity and increase financial stability. Yet, Russia’s main asset is not trade tout court, but energy. In fact, the Balkans serve as  a strategic crossroad for oil and gas coming from Moscow and Baku through Bucharest and Ankara. Thus, North Macedonia should also consider developing its energy infrastructure as a route to closer integration with the EU. In order to reduce the Western Balkan’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, the region needs investments. For cash-strapped countries, like North Macedonia, the opportunity to make real progress in this field may come from ‘green’ funds the EU has earmarked for energy projects in both current member states and candidate countries . In addition, Greece has established an LNG terminal on the Aegean to which links the RNM is planning to adjoin its grid. There are also talks of an electric-grid link to Albania, through which the RNM could import as much as needed and even export eventual surpluses.

Forecast: The RNM can make it… with some help

Without radical reform, the extant corruption, bureaucracy and public-sector inefficiency will stymy growth in the coming years. Luckily, the EU might be the answer to Skopje’s economic woes. The Union is expected to grant €3.3 billion to Western-Balkan countries to kickstart economic recovery following the pandemic. The package does however come with strings attached: the country will have to accelerate progress towards regulatory harmonisation with the EU. This is a notoriously difficult and resource-consuming task, which may hinder other reforms.

Furthermore, North Macedonia must confront pre-pandemic economic struggles. The government could revert to coalition infightings and therefore prolong the process of economic reform. For investors, a cautious approach is recommended, in preparation for positive economic developments.

Acknowledgments The Author thanks Charlotte Millington, parliamentary researcher at the UK House of Commons specialising in European politics and international security for her suggestions.

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How to incorporate the environment in economic ventures for a sustainable future?

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We are in the phase of world history where economic development and protection of environment must go side by side. People living in the developed part of the world will hardly want to give up their current lifestyle and people living in the developing part want to be more like the developed but in this process, we cannot separate environment from economy. Environment provides the incentive for economic growth and prosperity; providing the raw materials and resources we need for production of goods, certain climates and temperatures are required for the growth of specific plants and are very crucial to agriculture industry and the environment is what absorbs the pollution and waste we produce from all this industrialization. Protection of the environment means we mark ourselves safe from economic degradation and provide safe space for healthy functioning of economic and social activities. If we preserve the environment we control the risks of drought, heat waves, cold spells and floods, regulate the air quality, the temperature, the climate, the clean supply of water, the contamination of soil, cycling of nutrients in the ecosystem and management of carbon. Since agriculture can be regarded as the primary industry, crucial to feed people, people who then operate other industries, it is very important to safeguard the environment that feeds us and nurtures us and the environment that we live and grow in. Today, the world economy is facing serious environmental hazards. Climate change, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems are some of the global problems that need immediate collective action by states since this issue engulfs the whole of mankind. Therefore, economists and environmentalists have in the recent years taken this subject with full zest. How can economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand? Environmental policies integrated with economic policies can be implemented and pursued by states to ensure sustained and prolonged environmental human well-being and continued simultaneous economic growth for states both at the national and international level, ending in a win-win situation.

Natural resources are salient to economic development but at present many prime resources and ecosystems are depleting which poses a grave situation for states and their economies. To tackle this concern, natural resources need to be used in a reasonable manner and adopting and improving technology be propagated in such a way that the use of natural resources is made more efficient and long lasting. Use of newer and modern product designing which meets the needs of the current times, needs to inculcated. The consumption of natural resources beyond the point that hampers economic growth also needs to be avoided. The vitality of technology and innovation in limiting environmental hazards is being stressed, this is also beneficial for businesses and industrialization. This is because preservation of environment is itself a form of economic development and growth. People who come up with the ideas and engineering for environmental friendly products; such as the water and air pollution control, treatment and purification technologies, make money and businesses out of these services, thus contributing to the economy. Similarly, wind mills and solar systems are now a multimillion-dollar business themselves. If environment protection is putting some older technologies and practices out of work, it is also creating incentives for modern technologies and creating more job opportunities in the field. States should thus, make an industrial shift to equipment and products that have a low carbon usage and efficiently use resources. In the real estate sector, places with better and healthier environment and surroundings are priced more than other counterparts for example, a building next to a park or green belt will have higher value than a property which is not next to any place green. This points to the concept of “hedonic pricing.” It refers to the difference in pricing due to the associated environmental aspects, in otherwise similar products. Better environment also contributes to the development of human capital. The presence of a green park will not only add to beauty and better air quality but it will also encourage a lot of people to physically exercise.

Due to the growing scarcity of resources, governments of the world should introduce the policy of “common property regime,” which avers that resources such as land, water, certain habitats and the atmosphere be made common property for all. The problem is that there are no property laws for these resources and people use it as a free dump for human waste and waste products from economic activities. This includes various water bodies for example, irrigation systems and canals, forests, fishing areas etc. Concise and clearly enforced rules should be put in place, exercising the limits put on some activities such as excessive fishing or cutting of forests, putting a limit on the accessibility to these resources, keeping a check on the carbon footprint of some groups, organizations or events or even putting some specifications on their use such as tax or making recycling or reuse mandatory. The shift from already existing practices to newer ones that are more environment-friendly will be costly and it will take time but it is more important now than ever and more beneficial for us in the long run. Environment policies of these sorts reframe the economic structure. The cost of using these resources should be closed in according to the social cost of putting the health of the public at risk. Restructuring of the economic and environmental structure helps a country’s economy by lessening the environmental hazards that the country might face and by making the state more buoyant and resilient in the face of these environmental changes and risks. This can also prove to be a powerful driving force for innovations and ideas.

States are often in the race to increase their GDP. GDP only measures the material values of goods and services and does not take into account the well-being of humans including the health and education quality, living standards, income and environmental conditions. Economic growth, nonetheless, is a prime force for improving human well-being and states incorporate social, political and environmental goals in the well-being domain through these economic activities. The Kuznets curve is a graph to explain the relationship between the growth in economy/GDP and the quality of environment. States can keep this model in mind while reformulating their economic and environmental policies, in accordance to the history of environmental degradation they have endured and the future remodelling they need to follow. It is characterized by an inverted U-shaped relation between GDP per capita and environmental quality. Since we have already crossed the point for environmental degradation, it is now time to think for the decline in the degradation. Initially, when the GDP grows, so does the degradation of environment but after a certain point, the increase in GDP no longer degrades the environment further. This is because at lower income levels, the income is completely spent on meeting the basic survival requirements. When the income increases to a certain point, people and states should start thinking of the bargain that material does with the environment, this should be reflected in their behavioural change. After this point, states should start giving up further unnecessary consumption and focus more on environmental rehabilitation. Another possibility seen through this graph is that industries might see profit in enhancing production quickly, but as demands are met and resources become scarcer, more green, cleaner and resource efficient technology is introduced. Societies, in this way, also go from agriculture-based economy to manufacturing-based economy and finally to service-based economies, releasing the lowest levels of pollution. An example can be of EU rules and regulations. Waste water used to get dumped directly into the streams or rivers, but now it gets treated first before releasing. There are barely any housings left in the EU now that are not connected to solid and water waste disposal and treatment networks.

If states and the firms operating in those states take up eco-innovations and eco-friendly measures, they will actually be at advantage because investors like banks and various funding institutes are more likely to invest in sustainable businesses that will stay operational a long time, than those that are dependent on the environment in these challenging times. Firms that run on eco-friendly terms will also stay ahead of the taxes and regulations charged on using environmental resources. This will prove to be very cost efficient for them and they will not have to change their action plans according to any new regulations or increases in costs. Greener and cleaner practices and equipment can also truly reduce the waste an industry produces, in turn increasing the output and ensuring sustainability. This adaptation to cleaner practices can also lead to innovations and new ideas and practices starting right from the household or individual level. UK is one of the countries that is high on the ranks of eco-innovations, thanks to general understanding and cooperation among firms to pursue sustainable development. Furthermore, statistics show that companies that are currently focusing more eco-innovations are growing at the rate of 15% annually while their counterparts that are not focusing on the same, are not enjoying any climb in their profits[1]. Most of these businesses (based in Europe) are small to medium scaled and they are adaptable in nature. They are benefitting from the European commission’s stance on promoting eco-friendly businesses. Public Relations advantages and marketing superiority is also pretty clear in eco-innovation ventures.

A commendable example of improving the environmental conditions while also not compromising on the GDP and economic development, is that of China. China has been time and again accused of having a huge carbon footprint, which directly impacts the ozone layer which is communal to all mankind. States that are not even at par with the fumes and industrial waste that China produces, are today in the list of states most affected by climate change and global warming, including Pakistan and many of the Gulf nations. China has thus taken the role of global leadership in the field of environmental protection. China has been standing true to its 2015 Paris agreements on cutting down of greenhouse emissions. It was able to do so by spreading awareness and education from the grass-root level. In the period of only a few years, China has drastically improved the air quality in many of its larger cities. Solid waste management and sorting is a major step taken to restrict illegal dumping of garbage. Restrictive policies and heavy fines are imposed if an individual breaks the rules. Renewable energy generators like the wind and solar panels, have been put to use to meet nationwide energy requirements, which ensures cost effective power. In the year 2017, China nationally introduced the concept of “National emissions trading system,” which formed a market for the buying and selling of carbon dioxide emissions allowances. It regulates the quantity of emissions and carbon footprints that an individual, firm or an event is allowed to produce. All of this simultaneously helps China to become more energy sufficient and assists economic reforms while also improving the quality of ground-level air. Some states in the USA are taking up the initiative of green or clean economy with full fervour. California for example, set a target to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2045, while the clean energy sector is also opening opportunities for jobs. One of the incentive taken in the goal was stricter vehicle exhaust emission rules[2].Nevada also passed a legislation to increase the energy it makes to up to 50% through renewable energy sources, by the year 2030[3]. Rules and regulations have also bene proposed to reduce the emission of harmful air pollutants including those that are short-lived such as methane, CFCs and HFCs. Developing countries like Pakistan have also addressed the climate issue and the Pakistan Premier launched the “Billion Tree Tsunami” plantation campaign to curb deforestation, an issue rampant in the north of the country. In conclusion of this paper, in light of all the examples and recommendations, I would say that the long term benefits, mutual to all, outweigh the costs of taking a leap from existing economic practices to those that are eco-friendlier.


[1]“Eco-innovation for better business,” Business Green, accessed October 23, 2020, https://www.businessgreen.com/sponsored/2409410/eco-innovation-for-better-business

[2] “California Air Quality: Mapping the progress,” U.S News. November 6, 2019.https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2019-11-06/california-air-quality-mapping-the-progress

[3]Chandler Green. “7 ways US states are leading climate action,” United Nations Foundation. May 30, 2019, https://unfoundation.org/blog/post/7-ways-u-s-states-are-leading-climate-action/

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Pakistan and Germany are keen to Sustain Multifaceted and Mutually beneficial Cooperation

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Disability policies must be based on what the disabled need

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Preparing (Mega)Cities for the 2020s: An Innovative Image and Investment Diplomacy

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The Galwan Conflict: Beginning of a new Relationship Dynamics

The 15th June, 2020 may very well mark a new chapter in the Indo-Chinese relationship and pave the way for...

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