Challenges, Key Issues and Perspectives
Chapter 1: Globalisation and Natural Resources: Themes, Challenges and Dilemmas
INTRODUCTION The process of globalisation with its increased volume of world trade, transport and communications and the growing affluence it creates (albeit not uniformly spread) depends for its very existence on the Earth’s resources. Since the fifteenth century the need to expand the economic reach of countries and empires has been the motor behind the globalisation process. Historically the process has resulted in great economic disparity between cultures and nations in respect of access to natural resources, infrastructure and economic development. The causes of these disparities are various and complex, but the ‘aggressive exploitation of resources by outside cultures’1 is undoubtedly one of them. The so-called ‘North’ – the developed countries – has reaped the benefits of a long process which has been marked by the use of violence, political and economic coercion, while the ‘South’, ‘Third World’ or ‘developing countries’ have been left with a legacy of violence, broken social structures and uneven development.2 In this chapter we look at the main globalisation discourses and highlight the key issues in the relationship between globalisation and natural resources which are later developed throughout the book. The first is inequality, largely promoted and maintained by the current economic system but rooted in a long process which begins with colonisation and a conflicting relationship between the North and the South. Inequality and poverty are also intrinsically and unavoidably intertwined, and we consider this problem in this chapter. Globalisation has had a complex effect on the distribution of wealth and prosperity. With China and India...
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