Global Economic Growth and Development

Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth … these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.” – Ban Ki-moon

While economic growth is regarded as the increase in the economic ability and capacity of a nation to produce goods and services compared from a period of time to another, economic growth helps in improving life expectancy rate, infant mortality rate, literacy level as well as the standards of living.

With the advancements and progress of technologies, we find ourselves linked to one another and ultimately forming one whole global village in which every aspect of our life seems to be interconnected and it is undeniably true that globalisation has completely changed the course of life in the 21st century as economic growth and development can today be viewed simply as a one global and universal aspect.

Whether we admit it or not, modern life has definitely got better, easier and faster in many ways since the dawn of industrialisation together with worldwide economic development. Such progress has helped to lift numerous citizens out of extreme poverty and bad conditions; the employment sector has witnessed a sustained growth which has stimulated jobs and helped fighting unemployment rates; Progress has had an accelerator effect on technologies which has resulted into a massive outbreak worldwide.

According to International Monetary Fund, the global economic output has witnessed a growth of 3.7 % since last year following an acceleration of half of economies and “Global growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019 have been revised upward by 0.2 percentage point to 3.9 percent”. This has possible only by a rebound in investment, manufacturing activity and trade and economy worldwide is expected to maintain that rough growth level through 2020.

However, like everything there is always two sides of a coin and global economy is at the same time contributing to a global social unrest affecting our environment, climate and the educational world, questioning moral and human values. Instead of being full of praises of all the economic wonders human kinds have achieved so far, let’s just take a time to ponder on all the harms that economic growth and globalisation have filtered into our lives and how are we trying to preserve our environment, education and morality while at the same time expanding our economy.

It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity” – Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations

Environment – Economic growth in an age of climate change

A ruined planet cannot sustain human lives in good health. A healthy planet and healthy people are two sides of the same coin.”  Dr Margaret Chan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization

The natural environment is pivotal to economic growth since it is the main provider of all the resources we need to produce goods and services. Whether it is water, soil, air, forest and fisheries resources, they are each in their own way productive assets, whose quality helps determine the productivity of the economy. The fast growth and progress that we have witnessed during those last decades has unfortunately created negative externalities when it comes to our environment.

With the huge industries mushrooming all over the places whatever be the country but especially in world power countries like The US, India or China, pollution has been the most disastrous impact of industrial activities be it noise or air pollution. Such pollution has arisen both from production and consumption.

Besides, growth has led to environmental damage where rain forests are being destroyed through deforestation, fish stocks are being over exploited, and natural habitats are getting extinct through the construction of new roads, hotels, malls and industrial estates. Scientists have predicted that at least a third and as much as two-thirds of the world’s species could be on their way to extinction by the end of this century, mostly because people are destroying tropical forests and other habitats, over-fishing the oceans and changing the global climate.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities in 2009, most of them in developing countries and such overpopulated urban areas has put a lot of pressure on environment.

Such environmental crises have generated to a very unfortunate problem that we are all confronted with today – Climate change. Today, climate change appears as a challenge to the prospect of future global economic growth. Nobody knows for sure whether economic growth and climate mitigation can be achieved jointly since it appears that only the downfall of one can lead to the rise of another and as a matter of fact, green economy remains one of the biggest challenges of the economic sector of the 21st century.

Combining economic growth strategies with climate agendas can only have a positive impact on global economy and in the following report of OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), a few innovations have been identified:

1 – Technologies that make industry less energy-intensive ;
2 – Measures to improve the performance, and reduce the environmental impact, of the aviation industry ;
3 – Improve the supply of biofuels and hydrogen-powered vehicles ;
4 – Further development of technologies to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere ;
5 – Improve capacity to store electrical energy from renewable sources.

Far from being a dampener on growth, integrating climate action into growth policies can have a positive economic impact.” – OECD Secretary -General Angel Gurría

EDUCATION – The key to economic growth and vice versa.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” – Laozi

Economics is the study of how societies, governments, businesses, households and individuals allocate their resources and for a proper allocation, one needs to have acquired a certain intellectual degree whereas Education ‘can be defined as the stock of skills, competencies, and other productivity-enhancing characteristics’ (WEF 2016)

While promoting economic growth, any nation must pay a particular attention to the role of educational quality as both issues are closely related and without either of these two aspects, no proper progress can be possible. The relationship between skills and education are powerfully related to long-run economic growth and their effects are complementary to the quality of economic institutions.

On one hand, education at any level is today an important tool for the spreading of knowledge and for acquiring the required skills for social, economic and political advancement of one’s society and on the other hand, with a proper strategy of economic growth, the educational sector can only prosper and thus making education and economy interdependent.

It is an undeniable truth that education broaden people’s understanding of themselves and world while improves the quality of their lives and that of the society in which they live in.

Education raises people’s productivity and creativity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances and the economy of a society plays an indispensable role in implementing a competent level of education; Based on their GDP, African countries dominate the ranking of the 25 poorest countries in the world as per an analysis by Global Finance Magazine where only four countries out of the 25 are not African – Afghanistan, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Haiti and UNESCO’s priority for these countries today is to strengthen the educational level for a sustainable social, political and most importantly economic growth because it will clearly be a paradox if our global village fails to achieve a stable economy with part of it sill deprived from education or if we fail to make our economy prosper despite having the intellectual competency.

 

Morality fading away …

Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations”.  – Thomas Jefferson


Economic backwardness is typically associated with a wide range of institutional, organisational and government failures and in such cases, the moral values of a society are very often called into question. Numerous countries are victims of corruption and many other forms of illicit practice and such nations are bound to fail as they are simply unable to differentiate between conceptions of what is right or wrong, and of how one is supposed to behave in certain circumstances.

Values and moral ethics which are largely inherited from the previous generations tend to slowly get washed away from people’s body and mind during the last few years and morality which stands for individual and social values and convictions has given place to a sort of inhumanity and as a result, economic outcomes despite being ground breaking lack a degree of morality.

Since morality is related to economic development, it must also be connected to economics as a field of study. As a matter of fact, it relates to an important aspect called ‘moral economics’ whose purpose is to identify the relationship between economy and morality in a society. Hence laws, public order and rules become essential for the good functioning of a society and since the apparition of state government, it remains one of their primordial responsibilities to ensure the proper administrations of rules and laws. It is also possible for government to include a moral component to the economic rules of the society as citizens are the ones behind growth and progress.

Today despite globalisation, we are all set in a sort of rat race competition against one another where we fail to implement moral values and ethics in our daily practices; The same applies for the economic sector where we only want to see growth and progress at any cost and we are ready to jeopardise whatever obstacles that comes in our way and very often morality, education and human relationships find themselves at stake.

We get too engaged in wanting to get better and even be the best that chasing after money, power and success is becoming an inevitable part of mankind’s journey.

This is the reason why capitalism can never generate humanity and compassion as it remains a system built mainly on the best use of our vices, including greed and the competitive struggle in which we are engaged to achieve economic growth confirms Darwin’s theory – Survival of the fittest.

For instance, there have been half a million deaths in Syria during the last few years where people have been fleeing for their lives or a more recent example that has highlighted our inhumane attitude is the death of the last white rhino in Kenya – Poaching has been and is a sign of greed and selfishness predominating our society where hunters seem to be only preoccupied to satisfy themselves.

In order to preserve humanity among mankind, it remains more than essential for governments and big companies to ensure that moral codes and ethics remain at the core of their interactions and exchange since there is no use of having a global stable economy while at the same time witnessing a regression of morality and humanity to such an extent to we become each other’s enemy.

After all, a little compassion, humanity and love never do wrong to anyone.

 

Priyanka Appadoo

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