Critique of the Integrated Environmental Strategies (IES): An Initiative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from the Perspective of the Green Neoliberalism
In June 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Integrated Environmental Strategies (IES) program in an effort to assist developing countries evaluate public health, economic, and the environmental advantages associated with integrated planning in the process of addressing both the greenhouse gas emissions as well as local environmental concerns (EPA 2010). Presently, the EPA is in partnership with government agencies in implementing the Integrated Environmental Strategies program in eight (8) developing countries throughout the world in an effort to assist these countries address their problems economically, socially, culturally and environmentally. These countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Mexico, Philippines, and the Republic of Korea. The goal of this paper is to critique the Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Environmental Strategies program from the perspective of the Green Neoliberal theoretical framework using Michael Goldman’s book “Imperial Nature” as the basis of analysis in an effort to see some of the assumptions of the development framework that are in view within this development project and how these assumptions affect the process through which the project is been implemented.
The goal of the IES program of the EPA is to provide tools and strategies in the process of analyzing and quantifying environmental, public health issues as well as socio-economic and mutual benefits in developing countries (EPA 2010). The project also provides analytical mythologies in co-benefits analysis as well as provides technical know-how and why in the process of evaluating global issues from local perspectives in the areas of local energy consumption and the formulation of environmental policies and initiatives. It also helps developing countries construct the professionalisms needed in the area of integrated energy and environmental analysis and also promotes and enhances local support systems in the process of implementing measures and policies for mutual benefits.
The IES program is implemented based on systems and processes developed by each individual countries participating in the program coordinated by the EPA. The program is designed to address local needs of each of the developing countries and to create a sustainable system of local capacities building. Policy makers in developing countries along with their partners in the United States identify key objectives that the program seeks to address. This process is carried out by a research team, which assesses the mutual benefits of both the developing country and their U.S. Their analysis is based on the human health advantages associated with the use of clean or renewable energy. However, this process could be protracted to enhance economic development.
Green Neoliberalism originated from early 1990s after the World Bank and the IMF received several criticisms from stakeholders about how their policies and strategies negatively impacted the people to whom their development policies and strategies were directed (Goldman 2005). As a result of these external pressures, the World Bank instituted the Green Neoliberal development framework in an effort to encourage developing countries to lead to a market-driven economy, encourage cuttings in public expenditures for social services, deregulation, privatization of government agencies and to eliminate the conception of public good and community. It is a development discourse, which use the language of markets, efficiency, consumer choice, and transactional thoughts as well as individual autonomy to shift the risk from government and corporations to individuals (Goldman 2005). It also promotes and enhances the economic development of developing countries through the expansion and intensification of their market structures through increase in numbers, frequency, repeatability and the formalization of transactions among actors (Goldman 2005). Neoliberalism as a development framework encourages a state to adopt a market driven approach to economic and social growth, which is based on the ideology of the neoclassical theories of economics development, which emphasizes the role of the private sector in the process of determining the political and economic agenda of the state (World Development Report, 2009).
The World Bank and other financial institutions through these new initiatives are able to engage with stakeholders in countries of operations in diverse ventures ranging from environmental sustainability to irrigation, etc. However, the creation of Green Neoliberalism by the World Bank and her counterparts led to the global shift in development paradigm in which access to knowledge and expertise created an atmosphere of power relations (Goldman 2005). In this new paradigm shift in the structure and process of development, the ones who have the "knowledge" also have the "power" to control the "other" thus creating a system of perpetual dependency on the former; that is, the developed countries.
Some of the major assumptions associated with the EPA’s IES program implemented in developing countries with reference to the Green Neoliberal development framework are that, stakeholders in developing countries become reliant on their U.S. partners for professional support, it also creates a new market venue for U.S. base corporations for the marketisation of their products and services, the issue of knowledge and power relations, and developing countries are required to restructure their agencies in order to meet the requirements for the EPA’s IES program, which reinforce the dependency syndrome between the North and the South, the East and the West, the West and the Rest, developed and developing countries.
After careful assessment of the goals and objectives of the EPA's IES programs, I came to the conclusion that the Green Neoliberalism development discourse significantly influenced this project’s formulation and process. This is because the goals and objectives of the IES program create a system of dependency by developing countries on the United States for technical and professional support. This project is an expansion of the United States capitalist system because these countries will be depending on the EPA for materials and equipments that can only be bought from the US based corporations thus expanding the current gap between poor countries and rich countries such as the United States.
1. Goldman, Michael (2005). Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New Haven: Yale University Press.
2. U.S EPA (2010). “Integrated Environmental Strategies (IES) Program.” Website: http://www.epa.gov/ies/basicinfo.htm Accessed: 11/29/2010.
3. World Bank Group (2009). “World Development Report: Spatial Disparities and Development Policy.” Website: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDR2009/Resources/Outline.pdf. Accessed: 11/29/2010.