Table of Contents

Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Law

Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Law

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series

Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Miriam Alfie Cohen, Jose Juan Gonzalez Marquez, Albert Mumma and Susan Smith

This timely book explores the complex relationship between the alleviation of poverty and the protection of the environment. There is every reason to believe that these issues are in many ways interdependent. However this book demonstrates that there are situations where alleviation of poverty and the protection of the environment appear to be in a fraught relationship. The contributing authors illustrate that the role played by law in this relationship, whether at the international or national level, will vary depending on the situation and will be more successful at pursuing environmental justice in some cases than in others.

Chapter 10: Planning and Environment in Mexico City’s Metropolitan Zone: Trying to Defeat Poverty

Miriam Alfie Cohen and Oscar Flores Jáuregui

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, law and development, politics and public policy, human rights


Miriam Alfie Cohen and Oscar Flores Jáuregui 10.1 INTRODUCTION By the end of 1960, we had certainly witnessed the relentless surge of industrialization ‘at all costs’, limitless both in progress and expansion. Today, the constant growth of population, together with the depredation of non-renewable resources, the irrational use of energy sources and the deterioration of renewable resources, among others, mark the beginning of a new era in which human existence itself is under threat. Several writers refer to this situation as ‘Socioeconomic Metabolism’; inasmuch as the consumption of energy plus the use of materials, as well as the residues produced in the process, prevent timely recuperation by nature.1 Mainstream theories of development and underdevelopment have failed to sufficiently consider such ecological dynamics (Bunker, 1985) which are attributable to flaws in the market and in government. In the first case, the market, there is a failure to put a price on nature and to clearly delineate property rights. In the latter, the lack of governmental legislation has significant repercussions that are not easily solvable.2 This process of industrialization did not simply increase; its growth was poorly planned in most countries, leading to a deterioration of environmental conditions and an unequal distribution of resources within the population. The extensive growth of this new productive form, combined with the inappropriate use and intensive and systematic exploitation of natural resources, did not foresee what is today a risky future for all of us. It is also important to stress the existing relationship between...

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