World Economic and Social Survey 2009

Promoting Development, Saving the Planet

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The separation in practice of climate change and development agendas has distorted the global debate on the two biggest policy challenges facing the international community. According to the Survey, an integrated approach based on the concept of sustainable development is urgently needed. It argues that mitigation and adaptation can move forward effectively only if they are part of a consistent development strategy built around a massive investment-led transformation along low-emissions, high-growth paths. The Survey also contends that a critical role must be played by developmental States able to mobilize public finance and build appropriate technological capacity.

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The adaptation challenge

The previous chapters have argued that rising living standards in developing countries need not jeopardize efforts to stabilize global emissions, reverse the threat of dangerous global warming or avert catastrophic environmental damage. It is clear, however, that the development path followed by today’s rich industrialized countries can no longer serve as a model for catch-up growth. Rather, powering industrial expansion, rapid urbanization and population growth in the developing world will require a big push into cleaner and more efficient technologies, above all in the production and consumption of energy. This will require a transformative public policy agenda and a massive redirection of investment, at both the national and international levels.

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