How countries, companies, and communities can balance economic growth, resource consumption, and wealth distribution

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GRC 2023 Global Essay Competition Top 30

By Dorine Benedict

The Earth has a finite amount of resources, and as our population rapidly rises, we must assess how to distribute our resources equitably. Economic growth, resource consumption and wealth distribution are complex topics requiring a multifaceted approach and collaborative efforts between governments, businesses and communities to solve them.

The first step towards an equal distribution of wealth is progressive taxation. Taxes are crucial in a nation's path towards reducing inequalities based on economic status. Progressive taxation refers to a system where wealthier individuals pay a higher tax. This system has the advantage of promoting a more even income distribution and generating more significant tax revenue for the government. A larger tax revenue leads to a more substantial distribution of resources, as that revenue can be allocated to social services like education. Education is a prominent factor in economic growth; when a country invests in its people's education, it invests in its future. A study by the World Bank found that every additional year of school results in a 10% increase in income. A higher income results in higher taxes for the government, which can be used to improve society. Although progressive taxation is a fair approach, it is essential to consider that it can discourage some individuals from working since they may feel that they are being punished for their success. This could lead to decreased productivity and innovation, leading to economic stagnation.

Resource consumption is a significant issue, with 20% of the Earth's population consuming 80% of our resources. The primary problem with resource consumption is how much we waste and how we dispose of our waste. Food waste has been rising expeditiously over the years. Consumer behavior is the leading cause of food waste; a significant cause of consumer waste is a lack of education. Scandinavian schools, for example, teach children to dispose of their lunch in compost bins and encourage them to take a small portion of cafeteria food and return for more portions later to avoid waste. By teaching people how to manage food at a younger age, we can reduce the level of waste that they could produce at an older age. Spontaneous purchases and how people store their food lead to large consumer food waste in adults. One of the best ways to tackle adult overconsumption is by making individuals aware of the self-inflicting financial losses they are causing and the environmental impact of their waste.
On a larger scale, governments should promote the use of green technology. Green technology refers to using technology to mitigate human impacts on the environment. An example would be vertical farming. Vertical farming uses over 90% less water than other farming techniques, making it advantageous in harsh climates, such as Latin America, which has the highest levels of food waste. The plants can also be grown indoors and, therefore, be grown year-round as the climate does not impact them. Although green technology requires expensive devices, it mitigates the cost of farming in the long run. However, small farmers who cannot afford to implement green technology may fall behind their competitors who adopt these techniques. They may also face increased costs due to government regulations and penalties for failing to meet them. Therefore, governments need to subsidize farmers to help them implement green technologies.

As the world grows and technology advances, it becomes more connected. Collaborating with other countries is essential for any nation's economy to succeed. Many unions of countries are made to counter issues like climate change, e.g. the Glasgow Climate Pact, or for international trade, e.g. SADC. Despite focusing on international trade, many African nations suffer from global trade imbalances because they rely on raw materials. The lack of industrialization across the continent forces the main exports to be raw materials such as lumber, which are typically sold at a much lower price than finished goods. If African countries prioritized industrializing their countries, they could make more finished goods, sell them for a higher price in the international market, and benefit from international trade. Western companies often take advantage of countries such as China to bypass safety regulations and wage laws; however, this problem has improved over time. As a result, any global corporate agreements must prioritize transparency and the safety of a nation's citizens.
In conclusion, we can take several steps to address the aforementioned issues. Firstly, implementing progressive taxes can help redistribute wealth. This can be paired with increased governmental investment in education, which is vital to empowering individuals. Additionally, investing in green technology can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Finally, international collaboration with other countries is crucial to address global issues that transcend borders and require a collective effort. By taking these steps, we can work towards building a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

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