Make environment part of cost equation

by Tamara Chisholm, Environnement Jeunnesse

The environmental movement has been left out of government economic policy to the point that governments have been accused of economic tyranny, says Fulai Sheng, economist for the World Wild Life Foundation. Sheng says, "politicians focus mainly on economic efficiency, competitivness and growth without considering the environmental foundation which ultimately controls the long term vitality of the economy."

Sheng says policy makers need to incorporate the environmental and social cost into the system of measuring national accounts. "The current reading of Gross National Product (GNP), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and investments are distorted because of the separation of environmental and social costs from the equation."

He says that if this trend continues "there will be a detrimental loss in natural resources, which ultimately will cast a pall over any future improvement in the quality of human life."
If governments continue to incorrectly assess the economic standpoint of the country, the gap between environment and government policy will only grow larger.

Trade represents a huge portion of this debate as the environment is put directly in danger at the hands of manufacturers and government. Charlie Arden-Clarke, a trade specialist at WWF, asked International Union for the Conservation of Nature members to investigatethe environmental impact of the World Trade Organisation's trade agreements and global trade freedom.

At this point in time people are concerned, he says,. with simply getting by. Their jobs, salaries, food, mortgages, and rent are on the top of the priority list, leaving no room for environmentally economic concerns, says Sheng. However, he is confident that change will be implemented because "nothing is constant except change itself."