What Is Clean Growth?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Clean growth is economic development that is sustainable for people, societies, and the environment. Individual communities as well as larger units of government like nations can adopt clean growth initiatives to prioritize sustainable growth while working on economic improvement. Such growth may also be described as “smart” or “sustainable” in policy documentation and public discussions about economic policy and growth.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

One aspect of clean growth involves environmental responsibility. A government may determine that new industries should operate in an environmentally friendly way, and ideally should actively promote environmental health. New energy companies, for example, could work on alternative energy. Growth in the so-called green sector which focuses on environmentally friendly practices is often encouraged under clean growth schemes. This also leads to increased employment through the creation of new jobs.

Sustainability for communities can also be important. Rapid economic growth can exacerbate income inequality or expose some communities to exploitation, as for example if a community has rich mineral deposits. A clean growth program may provide a framework to protect social interests, not just environmental ones. Social responsibility in the form of contributions to education, community policing, and other community resources may be an important component of such a plan.

The development of new technology and avenues for innovation are all important aspects of economic growth. In clean growth, such technology should provide environmental and social benefits, in addition to generating revenues for inventors and the companies that control and produce the technology. Governments may encourage companies to pursue socially and environmentally responsible business activities through tax incentives and other benefits.

On a community level, clean growth may focus on localization and independence for small communities. These communities can also promote slow, smart development that does not overstretch community resources, while leaving room for advancement and more development in the future. Larger units of government may be interested in topics like energy independence, an increased use of domestic companies and labor to meet national needs, and the development of new industries to promote growth.

Economically, clean growth may also involve specific economic and fiscal policy moves to keep an economy stable and sustainable. Regulators with concerns about speculation could intervene through legislation and other means to keep economic growth controlled. The goal is to avoid the creation of a bubble that might blow up in the future and jeopardize economic progress. Regulators must balance the desire to avoid speculative bubbles with too much interference in the market, which can disturb investors and financial institutions.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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