An Asian perspective on a World Environmental Organisation

Raghbendra Jha*, Manoj Panda, Ajit Ranade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyses the possible response from Asian developing countries (ADC) to the proposal for the formation of an international legal entity called World Environmental Organisation (WEO). WEO has found mention in various forums. We conceive of a WEO based on the principle of internalisation of global external effects (Whalley and Zissimos, 2000), not the adoption of standards, as was the case in efforts like Agenda 21. Consonant with this, we focus on the twin issues of demarcation of property rights and side payments in order to facilitate Coasian deals. ADC response to WEO would be based on their priorities. They rank economic growth above domestic environmental problems (DEP), followed by global environmental problems (GEP) and consider an uncritical emphasis on GEP as imposition of a 'Northern Agenda'. GEP are pressing concerns and call for innovative institutional design to address them. DC consider GEP as an emergent issue, even ADC will soon become major contributors to this problem. Whereas DC value the international environment highly, the ADC rank economic growth and DEP above GEP, although not addressing GEP could hurt in specific areas. But, the fundamental indivisibility of the growth and environmental agendas in the ADC has to be faced. Given global concern over GEP, the global community should have the foresight to conclude a treaty at an early date. This would necessitate incentive design to persuade ADC to join WEO negotiations and remain committed to this process. Since ADC have considerable environmental assets, they should look for linking restraint in the area of GEP to other areas of their linkage with DC, including tariff and NTB concessions, transfer of technology and direct transfers. Given the wide range of such linkages it would be necessary to exploit associated positive externalities. A weak version of WEO would be innocuous enough and, therefore, acceptable but not very effective. Stronger versions would be unacceptable to ADC unless issue linkage is permitted. Given past experience of ADC with MEA, WEO would have to build credibility as an organisation that is truly interested in GEP, is sensitive to the needs of the ADC and is not acting as a conduit for imposing the will of the DC on the ADC. This is a challenging task. But there seems scope for achieving it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-657
Number of pages15
JournalWorld Economy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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