Sustainable Economic Development
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Reducing the negative impacts of climate change and other environmental factors is a key pillar in promoting sustainable economic development. The environment is integral to the economic prosperity of many developing countries, accounting for 30 per cent of the wealth of least developed countries. Activities to improve environmental outcomes can directly improve the livelihoods of those that depend on the environment for their livelihoods and food security.
The aid program supports environmental activities in some 23 countries and four regions. Results achieved as part of these activities are detailed against each initiative or country program. Activities range from forest conservation in Sri Lanka and support for ecosystem-based management of Pacific fisheries to urban planning and waste disposal in Tonga.
In 2010-11, Australia's aid program, through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) [external website] contributed to over 600 projects in 117 countries addressing issues such as land degradation, biodiversity, and climate change and promoting sustainable development pathways and livelihoods. Similarly, through the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, Australia's aid program has assisted developing countries to adopt development pathways that avoid the use of ozone depleting substances. Since 1991, the Multilateral Fund has invested in some 6,200 projects and activities in 148 countries.
In May 2012, Australia co-hosted the Development Cooperation Symposium in Brisbane in partnership with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The symposium brought together development cooperation partners from across the globe to address the challenges of coherence in international development assistance to achieving sustainable development and, in particular, MDG 7. The symposium laid down foundations for discussions regarding the post-2015 UN development agenda, which will shape the future of the MDGs.
Achieving more than just environment outcomes
Strong environmental outcomes also support the other strategic goals of the aid program, including saving lives—by improving public health, and promoting opportunities for all—by empowering women to participate in the economy.
For example, better environmental management could prevent 40 per cent of deaths from malaria, 41 per cent of deaths from lower respiratory infections, and 94 per cent of deaths from diarrhoeal disease. Improved environmental conditions can decrease the burden on women and children who are largely responsible for producing food and collecting water for household needs.
Positive environmental outcomes can also lessen the threat of conflict and social unrest. Environmental degradation often acts as a threat multiplier for conflict and social unrest as people compete for shrinking natural resources. Migration resulting from people responding to dwindling natural resources, can also lead to conflict.