This work is divided in three parts. The first is an assessment of the present state of performance in the management of the environment and the natural capital of the region. This section will identify the primary threats to sustainability and the challenges that the region faces in order to overcome them. In the second section, we will analyze the policies that are necessary to achieve high environmental performance with a focus on governance, multi-sector mainstreaming, the participation of the private sector, and social inclusion. The study reviews the debate on trade offs between economic growth and the environment, showing that investing in physical infrastructure and economic development, while conserving the environment and natural capital, is a viable and smart sustainable development strategy. In fact, it is argued that the natural capital is itself a form of “ecological infrastructure” generating valuable goods and services that contribute to economic competitiveness, income generation, and better quality of life, especially for vulnerable groups. The study ends with a short section of conclusions.
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