Counting the Cost
The cost of sustainability
In this environment special, we examine Peru's new gold rush and ask if Asia can balance growth and emissions.
Last Modified: 12 May 2012 08:12

This week's show focuses on the environment as we take a look at what is being done to the planet and how some are trying to fix those wrongs.

It is about the buzzword 'sustainability' - doing things in a way that preserves what we have while moving toward greener alternatives.

In this Counting the Cost, we examine all sorts of examples of this - both good and bad.

A modern gold rush

The illegal gold miners of Peru are destroying thousands of hectares of the Amazon jungle. Environmentalists call the damage 'catastrophic', but the miners are doing it because they have no other choice.

They are part of what is known as 'artisanal mining' - small-scale mining, which globally engages at least 15 million people across 50 countries.

That amounts to 90 per cent of the labour force in the gold market alone, producing 10 per cent of the global gold supply.

We take a look at their trade, their survival and their impact on the land.

Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez tells their story from the rainforests of Madre de Dios in Peru and Jaakko Kooroshy, a research fellow in Energy, Environment and Resource Governance at The Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, joins the show to talk about the impact of their activities.

The right kind of growth

Asia is pulling millions of people out of poverty, but can it strike a balance between prosperity and rising emissions?

In the Asia-Pacific region there are two-and-a-half billion mobile phone subscribers, which gives a pretty good idea of the region's growth over the last decade. But that growth has not come without some costs.

According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Asia-Pacific countries burn more than 80 per cent of the world's coal that is directly used by industry. The UNDP also says that half of the world's megacities - cities with 10 million or more people - are in Asia, and that it is these types of cities that emit two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. It also says that those emissions contribute to climate change and have an adverse impact on 700 million people in the Asia-Pacific region who live in extreme poverty.

We take a quick snapshot of New Delhi, Dhaka and Hong Kong and examine the costs of growth and expansion and talk to Ajay Chhibber, the UNDP's assistant secretary-general, about the agency's report One Planet To Share.

Profiting from going green

A Danish biotech firm says going green can be profitable. From the US to Mozambique, we take a look at how.

Novozymes is a huge biotech company that makes enzymes. Enzymes are in a range of things we use regularly, such as detergents, where they help to break down dirt on clothing. They are also used in farming and in the production of ethanol, an alternative fuel source.

Novozymes has gone to Mozambique to help reduce deforestation. How? Our business editor, Abid Ali, spoke to Steen Riisgaard, the CEO of Novozymes, about the project.

Watch each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630. Click here for more Counting the Cost.

Follow Kamahl Santamaria @KamahlAJE and business editor Abid Ali @abidoliverali
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