Vulnerable Places, Vulnerable People

Vulnerable Places, Vulnerable People

Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty and the Environment

Edited by Jonathan A. Cook, Owen Cylke, Donald F. Larson, John D. Nash and Pamela Stedman-Edwards

While some argue that trade liberalization has raised incomes and led to environmental protection in developing countries, others claim that it generates neither poverty reduction nor sustainability. The detailed case studies in this book demonstrate that neither interpretation is universally correct, given how much depends on specific policies and institutions that determine ‘on-the-ground’ outcomes. Drawing on research from six countries around the developing world, the book also presents the unique perspectives of researchers at both the world’s largest development organization (The World Bank) and the world’s largest conservation organization (World Wildlife Fund) on the debate over trade liberalization and its effects on poverty and the environment.

Chapter 8: Lessons from the Case Studies: 1

Pamela Stedman-Edwards, Jonathan A. Cook and Owen Cylke

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, development economics, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics, environmental geography


Pamela Stedman-Edwards, Jonathan A. Cook and Owen Cylke WWF came to this project out of concern that the impacts of trade liberalization on biodiversity and on the long-term sustainability of the earth’s ecosystems were being ignored, largely because they were not well understood. Neither the crafters of trade policy nor most academic efforts to examine its role had given much consideration to the local impacts of trade liberalization – particularly to those impacts on the ground in places of concern for conservation. WWF’s long experience working in these unique places has made us well aware of their vulnerability to change from outside. This experience has also created a keen awareness of the complex relationships between the rural people who inhabit these places and the survival of critical ecosystems. These people are often impoverished and directly dependent on the resources and services provided by the ecosystems where they live. Successful conservation requires us to address the needs of these vulnerable people in order to protect vulnerable places, and vice versa. Existing methodologies for analyzing the changes engendered by trade and the package of growth-oriented development policies of which trade forms an integral part had failed to capture important, place-specific impacts on poverty and the sustainability of ecosystem services. Thus, WWF entered into this project with the goal of developing a more comprehensive approach to understanding the complex relationship between trade, poverty and environment at all levels, but with a strong focus on the local – on the specific places where environmental damage is...

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