Sustainability and Development after COVID-19

Barbier, Edward B., and Joanne C. Burgess. “Sustainability and Development after COVID-19.” World Development (2020): 105082.

Developing countries are highly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, in part due to the lack of international support for ensuring progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet the mounting financial burden faced by all countries means that additional support is unlikely to be forthcoming in the near future. It is critical that developing countries find innovative policy mechanisms to achieve sustainability and development aims in a cost-effective manner. This requires identifying affordable policies that can yield immediate progress towards several SDGs together and aligns economic incentives for longer term sustainable development. We identify three policies that meet these criteria: a fossil fuel subsidy swap to fund clean energy investments and dissemination of renewable energy in rural areas; reallocating irrigation subsidies to improve water supply, sanitation and wastewater infrastructure; and a tropical carbon tax, which is a levy on fossil fuels that funds natural climate solutions. Such innovative and cost-effective policy mechanisms do not require substantial external support, and they foster greater progress towards achieving the SDGs in poorer economies.

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