Barbier, E.B. 2022. “The policy challenges of green rural transformation for Asia-Pacific emerging and developing economies in a post-COVID world.” Economic Analysis and Policy 75:689-704. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0313592622000947
Rural transformation is a process of comprehensive societal change whereby countries diversify their economies and reduce their reliance on agriculture and other primary product industries. “Greening” rural transformation implies making this process of structural change and economic diversification less environmentally damaging, including reducing dependency on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. To be successful in Asia-Pacific emerging and economies, such a transformation must be compatible with the most important development goal, which is poverty alleviation. This includes reducing poverty levels as well as related objectives, such as increasing access to energy, safe water and basic sanitation. An additional policy challenge is that many developing and emerging economies in the region remain highly dependent on primary products for exports, GDP and employment, and these activities are accompanied by significant land use change, especially for tropical countries. In a post-COVID world, emerging and developing countries will need to find cost-effective and innovative policy mechanisms to achieve sustainability and rural transformation aims in the absence of significant infusions of additional financing from major economies and international organizations. This article identifies affordable policies that can yield progress towards several development goals together, rather than sacrificing some goals to achieve others. Three policies meet these criteria: a fossil fuel subsidy swap to fund clean energy investments and dissemination of renewable energy in rural areas; reallocating water subsidies to expand water supply and sanitation services for the rural poor; and using proceeds from a carbon tax to fund natural climate solutions.