Development, Trade and Resources in Asia
7. Development policy and the environment in Sri Lanka 7.1 INTRODUCTION1 This chapter presents the second of the three case studies applying the general methodological approach of Chapter 4 to speciﬁc environmental issues. Our focus in this chapter is on land degradation in the hilly regions of Sri Lanka. In recent years the implementation of wide-ranging policy reforms and institutional changes designed to move Sri Lanka towards a liberal, outward-oriented, market economy – argued to be essential to economic growth – has intensiﬁed concerns about environmental degradation and the sustainability of the country’s natural resource base. These have been accompanied by debates about the environmental consequences for Sri Lanka of policy reforms in the broader context of Sri Lanka’s obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Sri Lanka’s environmental problems are both serious and multidimensional (ADB 1990). Among these, the issues of deforestation and land degradation have a long and prominent history, recognized as far back as the 1870s and discussed regularly since the 1920s. In addition, the degradation of coastal eco-resources and environmental pollution in urban industrial zones have been identiﬁed as areas requiring urgent remedial action. There is also a general consensus that past policies, which relied almost solely on regulatory mechanisms, have been ineﬀective in practice, and that concrete and eﬀective policies to address environmental concerns are urgently needed. There is now a far greater appreciation of the costs of environmental degradation within the general community, and government policy statements almost invariably make speci...
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