This post is my response, 3 months ago, to a comment on World Bank.org Development Dialogue on Reducing Pollution for Improved Health which can be seen here: http://strikingpoverty.worldbank.org/conversations/development-dialogue-reducing- air-pollution-improved-health#comment-1846557488.
I agree with the points you raised especially these “I strongly feel that any call for addressing pollution issues have to be justified on the basis of quantitative evidence of loss of health and economy to attract attention of decision makers” and also the idea of “grow now and clean up later”. These perceptions are the very notions holding African decision makers from committing fully to environmental initiatives and you cannot really blame them. Developed countries have the advantage of having advanced economies with high GDP, which is a goal developing countries are aspiring to reach. They see the advantages.
Developed countries’ economies were built on the back of the worst kind of environmental pollutants/degradation and unfortunately the repercussion is being passed on to developing/poorer countries that can be observed through the known global impacts of climate change. For developing countries, unfortunately, this is the only road map they know to achieving advance economies and high GDP. Still, developed countries with their high GDPs are having difficulty committing to environmental initiatives except in areas where they see direct economic gain that will not compromise their political power and influence.
Are developed countries experiencing loss of health and economy? Yes, they are. If you live in the developed part of the world, you will see that the rate at which people are dying/suffering from serious health issues mainly resulting from cell mutation leading to illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancer etc. have increased. For countries that have a universal health care system, the cost to these governments has gone up exponentially as well and these governments are looking for ways to transfer the cost back to its citizenry and educating the population on ways to keep healthy. This, in my opinion is like putting a band aid on a bleeding wound.
Now, if we work with these African decision makers to create environmental initiatives that have direct economic gain and will still keep them on the path to building their political/negotiation power and influence, maybe they will commit fully.
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