Environmental protection is an important issue that is gradually becoming more present in the development strategies. It occupies a significant place in the economic policy of many countries and constitutes a major concern for the international community. This concern is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) adopted by the United Nations in 2000.
In fact, 192 United Nations member states undertook in 2000 to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs, reverse loss of environmental resources, reduce biodiversity loss, and halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Although environmental protection is nowadays an important emerging concept, the search for large and sustainable pro-poor economic growth remains a necessity and a priority for all economies.
The simultaneous pursuit of these two objectives, that is the wish of all countries, gives rise to at least one question; what is the relationship between economic activity and environmental degradation?
The relationship between income and environmental quality should not be limited to the ECK, the environmental degradation in turn can have significant effects on economic activity.
These effects impact growth through many channels, among which is the health status. Health occupies a dominating role in the economic policy of many developing countries. This importance is illustrated through its weight among the MDGs. Some works estimate the cost of pollution and they show that morbidity and mortality should be considered.
The aim of this paper is to assess the relationship between health, environment, and economic activity and the consequences of this relationship on economic convergence.
In fact, given the EKC hypothesis in the early stages of economic development, the gain from income growth could be cancelled or mitigated by environmental degration through a populations’ health and create a vicious circle in economic activity unlike in developed countries. This in turn could slow down economic convergence.
Results of the study show the following:
environmental degradation negatively affects economic activity and reduces the ability of poor countries to reach developed ones economically
health status remains an important channel through which environment degradation affects economic growth even if it is not alone
poor countries cannot postpone attending environmental concerns in the hope that the environment will improve with increased incomes and avoid poverty traps due to environment degration