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Economic growth is the best promoter of social and environmental goals

English Pages, 27. 1. 2013

President Piñera, dear colleagues,

Thank you for the invitation to attend this important gathering and for its perfect organization. Just the weather could be better, less hot.

Some of us attended the previous EU-Latin America summit in Madrid two years ago and found it productive and stimulating. It is of utmost importance to be confronted with different views, perspectives, experiences. Summits like this one motivate us to look at the political tasks and challenges in our own countries in a different and innovative way.

Those of us who come from Europe are aware of the fact that Latin America has achieved remarkable development in the last decades which has visibly changed the living conditions of tens or of hundreds of millions of people on the continent. This continent, of course, couldn’t escape from being negatively influenced by the financial and economic crisis at the end of the last decade but you succeeded in avoiding to fall into the recession trap as it happened inEurope. It was made possible by the fact that the Latin American countries – or most of them – continued implementing rational, growth-oriented economic and social policies.

To be in Latin America, a person like me automatically remembers the well-known economist Raúl Prebisch and his Havana Manifesto of 1948. I don’t agree with its pessimistic view that “markets failed”. It was not true then and it is not true now. However, I understood Professor Prebisch’s position thatLatin Americaneeded economic development and that economic development needed industrialization. Many things have happened in the meantime, the terminology has changed but we are still discussing more or less the same issues. Should we let markets work and remove all kinds of barriers blocking them or should we organize the economic, social and environmental processes by government intervention which is not able to follow the strict economic reasoning?

I am afraid that some of the documents of this summit aim at the second solution. The title of this session “Sustainable Development: Promoting Investment of Social and Environmental Quality” is a good example.

- The term sustainable development is not an economic concept, but a political doctrine with far-reaching economic implications, and

- the best promoter of “social and environmental quality” is economic growth. The history has proved that the optimal economic response to social and environmental problems is abandoning any policies that hinder economic growth.

To say that does not imply any underestimation of social and environmental problems. This statement of mine is about sequencing – the economic growth makes the achievement of non-economic goals and ambitions possible. Being wealthier and having greater human capital means being able to employ cleaner, environment protecting technologies.

We have to take care of our forests, rivers, seas, of the air in the cities, but we should stop fighting the non-existent danger, the ideological doctrine of excessive, the planet and people endangering, man-made global warming. I find it promising that this catastrophic view about the future has already crossed its zenith. In our efforts to guarantee a prosperous future for both continents, Europe andLatin America, we should refute such politically motivated environmental agendas.

Thank you for your attention.

Václav Klaus, EU-CELAC Summit, Espacio Riesco, Santiago de Chile, 26 January, 2013


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