Asia's Environmental Problems: Common Features, and Possible Solutions

Stephen Howes, Paul Wyrwoll

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


    Asia's developing economies are faced with serious environmental problems that threaten to undermine future growth, food security, and regional stability. This chapter considers four major environmental challenges that policymakers across developing Asia must address in the coming decade: water management, air pollution, deforestation and land degradation, and climate change. These challenges, each unique in their own way, all display the features of "wicked problems". First developed in the context of urban planning, and now applied much more broadly, wicked problems are dynamic, complex, encompass many issues and stakeholders, and evade straightforward, lasting solutions. Detailed case studies are presented in this chapter to demonstrate the intricacy and importance of Asia's environmental challenges. The fundamental implication of this finding is that there will be no easy or universal solutions to Asia's environmental problems. This is a warning against over-optimism and blueprint or formulaic solutions. It is not, however, a counsel for despair. We suggest seven broad principles that may be useful across the board. These are: a focus on co-benefits; an emphasis on stakeholder participation; a commitment to scientific research; an emphasis on long-term planning; pricing reform; tackling corruption, in addition to generally bolstering institutional capacity with regard to environmental regulation; and a strengthening of regional approaches and international support
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationJakarta, Indonesia
    Commissioning bodyEconomic Research Institure for ASEAN and East Asia
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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