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Frontier Issues in Ecological Economics

Frontier Issues in Ecological Economics

Philip Lawn

Ecological economics formally emerged in the late 1980s in response to the failure of mainstream economic paradigms to deal adequately with the interdependence of social, economic and ecological systems. Frontier Issues in Ecological Economics focuses on a range of cutting-edge issues in the field of ecological economics and outlines plausible measures to achieve a more sustainable, just, and efficient world for all.

Chapter 17: The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development: Another Opportunity to Address the Scale and Globalisation Issues Gone Begging

Philip Lawn

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, environment, ecological economics


INTRODUCTION There is much to commend the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Despite conflicting definitions, sustainable development was again confirmed as a central element of the international political agenda. Also stressed was the importance of civil society in achieving desirable goals and the crucial link between poverty and the environment. The positive elements aside, the Summit can best be described as another missed opportunity. What is it that continues to be unresolved? Above all else, it is the issue of scale – the scale of economic activity relative to the natural environment that sustains it; the scale of present and future population numbers in developing countries; and the scale of per capita consumption in the industrialised North that, for obvious reasons, is aspired to in the South. Globalisation is also an important issue that was inadequately addressed at the Summit. Indeed, the United Nations Report on the Johannesburg Summit was replete with policies to achieve sustainable development that are at odds with globalisation forces and international trading rules that increasingly favour powerful elites and transnational corporations at the expense of nation states (United Nations, 2002a). In the remainder of this brief chapter, I will reiterate the critical nature of the scale and globalisation issues, in what way the Summit participants failed to address them, and what needs to be done to increase sustainable economic welfare worldwide. THE ISSUE OF SCALE Since the release of the Brundtland Report in 1987 (WCED, 1987), there have been many attempts...

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