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Asia Vows Help to Maintain Progress
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Representatives of several Asian countries yesterday pledged to make available their environmental expertise to help Africa with sustainable development projects.


The pledge was reiterated in a seminar entitled "Environmental Consideration for Sustainable Development," a side-event of the ongoing annual meetings of the African Development Bank.


Environmental protection watchdogs and scholars from China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea discussed the relationship between economic growth and its environmental consequences.


They offered policy recommendations that could be applied to African nations for sustainable development.


Ma Zhong, a professor with the Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said it's possible to create the market mechanism to protect the environment by using sound fiscal policy.


"In this regard, the government's relevant policies may play the key role," said Ma.


He suggested several practical things African nations could do, such as adopting urban wastewater discharge fees in more areas, reforming the natural resources tax and offering subsidies for renewable energies.


Ma's view was echoed by his Japanese counterpart, Kazuhiro Ueta, a professor with the Kyoto University in Japan who said it is essential to allow economic mechanisms, policies and institutional arrangements to play a bigger role in sustainable development.


"And that is how we get to the green growth," said Ueta.


However, sustainable development will not be brought about by policies alone, said Professor Bok Yeong Park with the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.


He cited the case of the "Saemangum Project," the largest land reclamation case project in the world, which was first planned in 1987 but dragged on for 20 years because of legal disputes between developers and environmentalists.


He said the case demonstrated the importance of factoring in environmental issues during development projects.


It also showed how social consensus should be built among not only stakeholders but also people with different values.


Experts agreed that sustainable development must be taken up by society at large.


"We have learned our lesson about effective ways to address the sustainable development challenge and we now want to help create long-term prosperity in Africa through applying our unique strengths in the issue," said Tae Dong Park, executive director of the Economic Development Cooperation Fund and the Export and Import Bank of Korea.


Nils Tcheyan, the World Bank's director for strategy and operations in Africa, also said he believes that governments in the African continent should integrate the environment with poverty alleviation policies.


(China Daily May 15, 2007)


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