Sustainable development has become the common agenda of international agencies, environmental experts, and policymakers. In recent times, the role of green growth has become important in attaining sustainable development. Green growth is not just about the protection of the economy but achieving the economic growth of the economy sustainably. The idea of sustainable economies has grabbed much more attention from the empirics and policymakers who work in the domain of economic growth. The concept of Green growth simply represents the path of sustainable growth of any nation. According to United Nations Economic Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP, 2006) green growth is a phenomenon of transforming the traditional economic system into a green one by careful and sustainable use of natural resources. In other words, a green economy is one in which economic prosperity coincides with environmental sustainability. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2011) has defined green growth in the following words “fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide resources and environmental services on which the intergenerational well-being of humankind relies”.
Given the importance of green growth in attaining sustainable development, many experts and professionals have devised various strategies to attain green growth but the construction of green technologies with the help of suitable innovation strategies are considered the most significant, and noticeable (Girouard, 2010). The products, equipment, and technologies that are produced and developed with the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources, and exert less burden on the environment are known as green technology. In other words, technologies that help to preserve and guard the ecological balance of the earth by minimizing the pressures of human activities are known as green technologies. Now the question arises what are the factors that can contribute to the development of green technologies which are essential to decouple economic growth from environmental pollution. In this study, we have focused on factors such as financial inclusion, education, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as the determinant of green growth.
Indeed, the development of the financial sector has become an integral part of the economic growth strategy of any country (Le et al., 2020). On the other hand, financial inclusion has become the part and parcel of any financial strategy as it helps to stimulate the growth of the financial sector and institutions. The idea of financial inclusion is not too old as it emerges in the early 2000s after the study by Chibba (2009) which considered financial exclusion as the primary reason behind poverty. The World Bank ( 2018) defines financial inclusion as the availability of a wide variety of financial services such as online and offline transactions, credits and debit cards, saving and insurance schemes, car, and house financing, etc to as many people as possible in a convenient, safe, and responsible way. Greenwood and Jovanovic ( 1990) have anticipated a theoretical model which is crucial for explaining the information asymmetries in the link between the financial sector and economic growth. According to their viewpoint, a dynamic and well-functioning financial system can handle the problems of adverse selection and moral hazards in an efficient way that will channel the funds towards the most profitable and productive projects. On the other side, King and Levine (1993) have observed that a well-functioning financial system can promote economic growth by incorporating the idea of financial development into the model of endogenous growth. In literature, many studies have noticed the positive impact of financial development on economic growth (Caporale et al., 2015; Tripathy, 2019), but very few have focused on the link between financial inclusion and green growth which is the aim of this study. On one side, businesses can take benefit from financial inclusiveness in the financial system which allows them to invest easily in green energy and technologies that will promote green growth. On the other side, due to financial inclusiveness individuals can take credits from the banks which will raise their living standards more and allow them to afford more energy-intensive products (Frankel and Romer, 1999). Similarly, financial inclusiveness can also promote industrial and manufacturing activities in the economy that will increase the emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and move the economy further away from the goal of green and sustainable growth.
Economic growth and education are closely linked to each other (Galor & Tsiddon, 1997). Economists have a strong faith in the notion that human capital can drive the long-term economic growth of a country. Human capital can be developed by educating and training the people and it is used as a crucial input in the production function (Barro, 1991). If we analyze the role of human capital in the context of economic growth, it can be observed that advanced economies have transformed their production technique from labor-intensive to human-capital intensive. Such a transformation has helped these economies to attain sustainable growth without affecting environmental quality. Human capital is a by-product of education and it can replace energy-intensive inputs in the production function and help reduce the burden on the environment caused by human activities. Therefore, human capital can contribute to green growth by decoupling economic growth from CO2 emissions.
ICTs have transformed human societies by making them less dependent on physical resources and more on information resources. This transformation has allowed the economies to substitute books, compact disks, and checkbooks with bytes, MP3s, and clicks respectively, and help the economies to become more weightless and capital free (Usman et al. 2021 and Wei & Ullah 2022). This is an era of globalization and digitalization and most of the business activities these days are performed with the help of the internet. Hence, the role of the internet is increasing in the economic growth of countries (Erumban and Das 2016; Usman et al. 2021). Further, ICTs help to attain economic without damaging the environmental quality due to their contribution to dematerializing the economies (Usman et al. 2021). However, evidence also suggests that the increased production and consumption of ICT-related products causes the energy demand, and consequently CO2 emissions to rise (Erumban & Das, 2020). Hence, we can’t predict the impact of ICTs on green growth; therefore, ICTs and green growth relationship should be explored in detail and this study is an effort in this direction.