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Climate-Resilient Industrial Development Paths:
Design Principles and Alternative Models
Lyuba Zarsky

GDAE Working Paper 10-01
February 2010
In conjunction with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

The unfolding drama of global climate change has paradigm-shifting implications for development theory and policy. Despite recent findings that the Washington Consensus is adrift, development practice remains largely wedded to global, market-driven neo-liberal policies based on maximizing GNP growth and high-energy consumption, by maximizing inflows of foreign investment, integrating with global supply chains, and eschewing pro-active industry policies.

The climate change imperative—the urgent need to both mitigate and adapt to climate change—comes at an opportune moment to consider how industrial transformation and economic development could—and indeed, must—evolve along new “climate-resilient” paths.  Development theory has been shaken loose by the economic, social and environmental shortcomings of neo-liberal orthodoxy. 

This paper by GDAE Research Fellow Lyuba Zarsky, who is also an International Fellow at IIED, explores the broad contours of climate-resilient industrial development paths. She defines development as an increase in local capacities for production and innovation and argues that the overarching goal of development in a climate-constrained world is not growth or industrialization per se but the generation of sustainable livelihoods.

Zarsky compares three distinct development models and suggests that the so-called “new developmentalist” model, with its overarching objective of building endogenous productive capacity and a strong role for government in industrial development, make it the most robust of the three models as a starting point for the design of climate-resilient development paths. Without these two elements, it is highly unlikely that developing economies will develop on a low-carbon trajectory or significantly reduce their vulnerability to intensifying climate instability. Much additional work is needed, however, to develop the theory and praxis of climate-resilient development paths.

Download Climate-Resilient Industrial Development Paths

Read more about GDAE's work on Foreign Investment

Read Lyuba Zarsky on this topic on the Triple Crisis Blog

Read more from the International Institute for Environment and Development

The Global Development and Environment Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of economic integration in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on the WTO and NAFTA's lessons for trade and development policy. The goal of the program is to identify policies and international agreements that foster sustainable development.

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