A peculiar advantage

An American environmentalist working as a consultant for a new infrastructure project in a developing country meets the country’s Minister of environment. The Minister tells him: “We are very pleased with the engineering team. This project will benefit our country greatly. The road network will connect most major local markets, drastically facilitate access to ports, reduce transportation costs substantially and boost trade in an unprecedented manner. Children in our villages will be able to attend better schools and mothers will receive medical services in bigger hospitals. For the first time since independence, the government will be able to consistently deliver basic goods and services to the people living in poor and remote rural areas. And as we bring our society a step closer to economic equality, social conflict and resentment will begin to give way to peace, cooperation, and innovation. The country will grow on cohesive and conscious communities, and people will work together to protect and enhance the land’s resources for all generations to come.”

As the American consultant reviews the final maps of the proposed road network, he turns to the Minister and says: “Without doubt, this project will significantly contribute to your country’s growth and development. Yet, allow me to draw your attention towards a particular road in the plan. Notice that it cuts right through the middle the jungle. This is the country’s most pristine ecosystem and a rare tropical habitat that is home to many unique animal and plant species. I understand that building the road here cuts project costs by half, but aren’t you worried about what will happen to the wildlife that inhabits this jungle and moves along this corridor once the road is built?”

In a confident but gentle motion, the Minister of Environment brings his hands to the American’s shoulders. He looks at the Yankee in the eye and with a sincere smile tells him “Sir, I assure you there is nothing to worry about. You see, we may not be the best endowed country in the region, but we have a peculiar advantage. In this country, anytime we build a road all animals just flee.”

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