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Environmental Management for Sustainable Economic Development: The Singaporean Experience

Sathiendrakumar, R. (1994) Environmental Management for Sustainable Economic Development: The Singaporean Experience. Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

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The environment is a resource people want to use for various purposes. An increase in economic production in a country, ceteris paribus, will lead to an increase in national income. The environment is a normal good. Therefore as economic production increases, people will also demand better environmental quality. In the absence of environmental management an increase in the level of economic production will lead to an increase in the level of pollution, ceteris paribus. Therefore, society has to find ways and means to resolve the conflict between the increase in production on the one hand and the preservation of the environment on the other, when considering inter-generational equity with respect to environmental quality.

The quantity and quality of the stock of resources available to Singapore may be considered as given. Maximising service to a given stock of resources is economic efficiency, which is one component of sustainable economic development. This paper will assume that the objective of economic efficiency is pursued by the Singaporean Government Therefore the paper will be focussing on the objective of maximising the stock of resources to throughput, which is the other component of sustainable economic development. Since it is assumed that the stock of resources is given in Singapore, the objective of this exercise is to minimise the throughput to a given level of stock.

This paper will deal in detail with economic policies pursued in Singapore to achieve (a) energy efficiency, (b) reduction in congestion, (c) reduction in air pollution, (d) improvement in water quality and (e) waste reduction and waste disposal. The criteria that should be used in selecting the appropriate policy instruments to achieve sustainable economic development in Singapore are (a) efficiency, (b) acceptability, (c) equity and (d) flexibility. The paper highlights the importance of the market-based approach in environmental management, as it gives consumers and industries clear signals about the cost of using environmental resources. Finally, the paper also considers the role of institutions in achieving the desired environmental management strategy to achieve sustainable economic development in Singapore.

Item Type: Working Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Commerce
Series Name: Department of Economics Working Papers
Publisher: Murdoch University
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