My article at Seedmagazine.com discusses the role of good government in promoting both economic development and in protecting natural resources, a claim some people find counterintuitive.
But examples abound. A week ago, a deal was announced for the U.S. to Cut Guatemala’s Debt for Not Cutting Trees:
the government of Guatemala has agreed, in exchange for the debt forgiveness, to invest $24.4 million over the next 15 years in conservation work in four nature regions.
This is the largest amount of debt that has been forgiven by the United States under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, which was enacted in 1998. So far, 10 countries, from the Philippines to Peru, have had part of their debt forgiven in exchange for forest protection efforts.
“You can’t just come in as the U.S. and say it’s important to protect those forests,” Claudia A. McMurray, assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment and science, said in an interview. “You have to give these countries alternatives.”…
The bulk of the money generated by the debt forgiveness will go to private organizations working to preserve the country’s nature areas. A $4.9 million conservation trust fund will also be set up to generate interest income for future grants.
These sorts of deals encourage conservation, good government, and economic growth.
And it doesn’t have to happen just between governments. In September, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Republic of Congo announced the creation of two new preserves.
“The Republic of Congo depends on forest resource use for economic development, but it is also deeply committed to biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management. It has already set aside an estimated 11 percent of the country’s surface area as protected areas, 90 percent of which is tropical forest. Establishing these new protected areas reinforces the protected area network portfolio and affirms this commitment,” said Henri Djombo, Congo’s Minister of Forestry Economy
This is the Republic of Congo, not the Democratic Republic of Congo – home of “Africa’s World War.” Congo is returning to stability, and is looking for ways to sustain its economy as its oil dries up.