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Green Growth in the Global South

Annabelle Wu

As many countries in Southeast Asia become involved in rapid economic and industrial development, sustainable innovation has established itself at the forefront of these processes. This is a region of the world that is often at severe risk of climate change impacts due to its tropical climate that is seeing a rise in natural disasters and its economic fragility especially in the post-pandemic environment. Thus, there has been a focus not only on building climate resilience but also on approaching development in an ecologically conscious manner to help actively prevent these impacts.

Green growth does not initially appear to be something easily achievable in this region due to increasing urbanization,many countries’ heavy reliance on fossil fuels (namely coal), and an ever growing demand for natural resources. Additionally, a lack of transparency in policy-making also makes it difficult for sustainability to actually be enforced without damaging economies. However, many sustainable practices actually present perfect opportunities for Southeast Asia’s state of growth. Nations such as Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam lead in the world’s production of renewable energy. Their policies also have the potential to encourage sustainable innovation like increasing electric vehicles and other carbon offsetting practices, all with the focus of decarbonization and moving away from a dependence on fossil fuels. With rapid urbanization, there is an opportunity to approach urban planning with resource efficiency at the core. Singapore sets this example by leading in the world with green buildings and digitalization, as well as urban transport and mobility.

All of these innovations have been major topics of recent discussion at several climate summits including ASEAN Summit, G20 Summit, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation that have occurred in the past couple of months, with an emphasis on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This so-called “Summit Season” primarily touched on financing for clean energy and technology transitions all while navigating growing political tensions. A pandemic fund was delivered, and Indonesia was provided with the largest climate financial deal of $20 billion for energy transition away from coal. Thailand also promoted the Bangkok Goal for Bio-Circular-Green, which presents a green economic model of growth. As pressure on all the SDGs increase across the globe, innovation in Southeast Asia has a potential to lead the way


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