CAN ENVIRONMENT OR DEVELOPMENT STAND-ALONE AN ANALYSIS OF THE PATH TO INTEGRATE ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
The struggle 10 overcome the accelerating socio-economic and political problems in SriLanka seems to be even more difficult in the face of increasingly apparent environmentalconstraints. There is a growing belief that most development activities are hindered orterminated due to environmental reasons. Often. the environmental authorities are blamedfor such obstructions. The 1992 'Earth Summit' succeeded in altering the conscience of theworld towards environmentally sustainable development with the message that withoutbetter environmental stewardship, development will be undermined. and without accelerateddevelopment in poor countries. environmental policies will fail. However. many conceptualand technical questions in achieving sustainable development still remain unanswered. Acritical question for policy makers thus is whether the environmental aspects of socioeconomicdevelopment can be alleviated by modifying existing approaches, or a completenew strategy is required.
This paper discusses the ideologies distributed along the spectrum of 'neo-Malthusian'pessimists (those who believed that it is very likely that human industrial civilization willcollapse under the weight of growing consumption of resources. growing human populationand increased environmental pollution) at one end. and the 'cornucopians' or thetechnological optimists on the other end. The paper attempts to merge these ideologies andseck for a more holistic approach to accelerate economic growth while addressingenvironmental challenges, and also to propose institutional mechanisms to integrateenvironmental concerns in the development policies and long term planning.
To address the aforementioned issues the Ministry of Forestry and Environment hasintroduced several measures including Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).Committees on Environmental policy and Management (CEPOM) and Committee onIntegrating Environment and Development Policy (CIEDP). However, the EIA process hasits own weaknesses and is being heavily criticized by investors as well as environmentalists.CEPOM and CIEDP Structures were proposed to reduce the conflict between developmentand environment. However. this mechanism is still in its infancy. The paper provides avigorous review on the existing mechanisms available for integrating environment anddevelopment towards sustainable development objectives. It also aucmpts to introducepossible policy initiatives to improve the existing situation.