Hope for the Danube Delta?
American Peace Corps Volunteer
As an American Peace Corps Volunteer at an environmental NGO in Romania, I have been witness to the escalation of the Bystroe Canal dilemma at the border of Romania and Ukraine. The crux of the conflict, economic growth versus environmental preservation, is not an uncommon story. We, in America have more than our fair share of these stories as we are stewards to such a large population and land so rich in natural resources. However, each situation comes with its own unique set of historical complications and political motivations. In the collective development of countries around the world and increasing globalisation, people are facing the disharmony that exists between the environment and the economy. The battle of visions between industry and environmental groups is forcing us to look at our traditions of economic growth in a different light. Everyone wants a thriving and competitive economy but if that economy is sabotaging the natural environment where it obtains its material and human resources, then the health and productivity of the people within that economy (and thus the economy itself!) will eventually be undermined. Everyone wishes to survive with the best possible outcome. Yet, many of us, in our efforts to enhance prosperity, end up perpetuating this cycle of immediate gratification and the mess that follows. Focusing only on immediate economic rewards, without integrating a broader view of future repercussions, overlooks the price that is paid in natural resource decline and degradation and does not make good economic sense. Thus, depleting natural resources and impairing the environment can effectively thwart efforts to alleviate poverty especially in developing countries. Governments are revising environmental policies, though, and these costs will have to be paid by someone. As globalisation proceeds and developing countries are integrated into the world economy, their macroeconomic and sectoral policies must be adjusted to be in accord with those of existing governments without compromising their national identities and traditions. This process takes work. Efforts must be made to assist industry and business sectors throughout the world in realising strategies for sustainable development and understanding how these strategies can be potential drivers for modernisation and economic progress. Political, social, economic and scientific experts, advisors and representatives must combine efforts as no one group will succeed alone. The hope of the future lies not in anyone winning the battle between economic prosperity and environmental protection but in their marriage, collaboration and mutual vision.