The damaging effects of economic development on environmental degradation can be reduced by a judicious choice of economic and environmental policies and environmental investments. Choice between policies and investments should aim at harmonizing economic development with sustainable development. Few policy measures are as under:
1. Reducing Poverty:
Development projects should be started which provide greater employment opportunities to the poor. The government should expand health and family planning services and education so as to reach the poor that will help reduce population growth.
Further, making investments in providing civic amenities like the supply of drinking water, sanitation facilities, alternate habitats in place of slums, etc. will improve welfare and environment also.
2. Removing Subsidies:
Subsidies for resource use by the private and public sectors should be removed. Subsidies on the use of electricity, fertilizers, pesticides, diesel, petrol, gas, irrigation water, etc. lead to their wasteful use and environmental problems.
Subsidies to capital intensive and highly polluting private and public industries lead to environmental degradation. Removing or reducing subsidies will bring both economic and environmental benefits to the country.
3. Clarifying and Extending Property Rights:
Lack of property rights over excessive use of resources leads to degradation of environment. This leads to overgrazing of common or public lands, deforestation, and over exploitation of minerals, fish, etc.
Clarifying and assigning ownership titles and tenurial rights to private owners will solve environmental problems. Places where the use of common lands, forests, irrigation systems, fisheries, etc. is regulated and rules for their proper use are laid down by the community, the ownership rights should be clearly specified in the administrative records.
4. Market Based Approaches:
Besides regulatory measures, there is urgent need for adopting market based approaches for the protection of environment. They aim at pointing to consumers and industries about the cost of using natural resources on environment.
These costs are reflected in the prices paid for goods and services so that industries and ultimately the consumers are guided by them to reduce air and water pollution.
5. Regulatory Policies:
Regulatory policies also help in reducing environmental degradation. Regulators have to make decisions regarding price, quantity and technology. In making decisions, they have to choose between the quantity and the price of pollution or resource use or technologies.
6. Economic Incentives:
Like regulatory policies, economic incentives relate to price, quantity and technology. Incentives are usually in the form of variable fees to resource users for the quantity of pollutants in air, water and land use. They are given rebates if less waste or pollution is generated than the emission standards laid down.
7. Public Participation:
Public awareness and participation are highly effective to improve environmental conditions. Conducting of formal and informal education programmes relating to environment management and environmental awareness programmes can go a long way in controlling environmental degradation and keeping the environment clean. For instance, the scheme of eco-labeling of products helps consumers to identify products that are environment friendly.