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The Founex Report - New dimensions

to the overriding task of development of the developing regions of the world. Indeed it underscores the need not only for a maximum commitment to the goals and targets of the Second Development Decade, but also for their redefinition in order to attack that dire poverty which is the most important aspect of the problems which afflict the environment of the majority of mankind.

1.6. Whilst the concern with human environment in developing countries can only reinforce the commitment to development, it should serve, however, to provide new dimensions to the development concept itself. In the past, there has been a tendency to equate the development goal with the more narrowly conceived objective of economic growth as measured by the rise in gross national product. It is usually recognized today that high rates of economic growth, necessary and essential as they are, do not by themselves guarantee the easing of urgent social and human problems. Indeed in many countries high growth rates have been accompanied by increasing unemployment, rising disparities in incomes both between groups and between regions, and the deterioration of social and cultural conditions. A new emphasis is thus being place on the attainment of social and cultural goals as part of the development process. The recognition of environmental issues in developing countries is an aspect of this widening of the development concept. It is part of a more integrated or unified approach to the development object.

1.7. The incorporation of environmental issues and goals in the sense discussed here in the concept of development, raises - as does the incorporation of other social goals - important issues for planning and policy making. To the extent that these objectives support or reinforce economic growth - and it can be shown that some of them do - their place in the pattern of priorities would be more readily established. But where conflicts are involved, particularly in the short or medium run, more difficult choices would have to be made regarding the "trade off" between these and the narrower growth objectives. These choices can only be made by the countries themselves in the light of their own situations and development strategies and cannot be determined by any rules established a priori. Subsequent sections of this report attempt to identify and elaborate upon the specific environmental problems faced by developing countries and the ways in which these could be categorized as aids to planning. But the importance of distinguishing between measures or programmes that are conducive to growth, or at any rate not in conflict with it, and those that may involve some sacrifice in growth objectives is clear enough. It is similarly important to distinguish between measures or programmes whose claims on financial resources are likely to be relatively modest from those which are likely to prove more costly. The employment creating potential of environmental programmes is yet another aspect that is of relevance to the planning process.

1.8. Whilst the environmental problems of developing countries are in large measure those that have arisen from the lack of development, it is also true that problems arising out of the process of development are also in evidence in these countries to an extent that depends on their relative levels of development. Indeed as the process of development gets under way the latter type of problem is likely to assume increasing importance. The processes of agricultural growth and transformation, for example, will involve the construction of reservoirs and irrigation systems, the clearing of forests, the use of fertilizers and pesticides and the establishment of new communities. These processes will certainly have environmental implications Similarly, industrialization will result in the release of pollutants and react on the environment in a number of ways. Again, the growth of the entire economic infrastructure of transport and communications will have consequences for the ecological system. Urbanization is already a pressing problem for many developing countries and some of their cities are experiencing problems common to those of the industrialized countries. In addition, with the urgent need for the rural areas to sustain a growing population, the problems of rural environment assume a new significance.