Amongst the research found regarding sustainable development and developing countries (formerly LDCs), the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis seems to be prime in understanding this phenomena. In its simplest form, the EKC or the inverted U-curve, illustrates the relationship between economic inequality and income per capita. In the realm of sustainable development, this hypothesis has been applied to explain the relationship between pollution and income per capita or also development and income per capita (se previous post titled: The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC)- Developing countries and SD).
This graphical illustration applied to the environment, explains that with economic development, environmental conditions deteriorates first before improving. Researchers claim that: “environmental deterioration is an unavoidable stage in economic development” and that it is a temporary phenomenon that decreases has the population becomes wealthy enough to seriously implement necessary environmental activities. I found a great working paper on the subject from a Canadian at: http://pages.usherbrooke.ca/gredi/wpapers/GREDI-0703.pdf
In the developing world, environmental concerns do not prime everyday life. In economies where poverty prevails, health issues are widespread and education is not central in survival. How can governments implement and impose environmental policies amongst these countries?
It is true (in my opinion) that after attaining a certain standard of living and according to Maslow hierarchy of needs, the focus of oneself (safety and psychological) changes to social interest. Furthermore, as economic development and growth occurs, increase consumption and pollution is the resulting factor. At this point, environmental pollution is such as a high stage that actions are required and greater attention is put into reducing pollution. During this transition period, education will need to be a focus and the integration of environmental value will need to be taught. The effectiveness of such a system will require increase awareness of environmental issues, especially in societies where it has this has never been a priority.
Even though, the EKC seems to explain the relationship of pollution and income per capita, many developing societies are far from attaining this level of development and increase income to move from a purely survival state, i.e. satisfaction of the basic needs to a social interest society.