New Challenges for Poverty Reduction
Edited by M. A. Mohamed Salih
Chapter 7: Environmental Security, Politics and Markets
Bas de Gaay Fortman While sustainable development has shown a remarkable degree of persistence and staying power as a concept, implementation of intragenerational as well as intergenerational equity1 remains as problematic as true universality of human rights. Notable is the Earth Charter that connects sustainability with justice, peace and participation, signed by more than 2000 civil society organizations, but not endorsed at an intergovernmental or governmental level. Like Dower (2004), Hans Opschoor believes that this may well be connected with the inconvenience of the truth underlying it (Gore 2006), the incompatibility of the charter’s ethical direction with value systems such as free market libertarianism and its corresponding morally demanding character. To these constraints, Opschoor adds the Charter’s political inviability in terms of concrete implications (Opschoor 2007b, p. 268). Truly, Hans Opschoor deserves wide acclaim as one whose work looks beyond the narrow boundaries of one (sub)discipline: A genuine political economist, focusing on not just problems, but solutions, and not afraid to tackle religious, cultural, political and social aspects of these as well. This chapter is an attempt to honour him by connecting the economic problem of sustainability with the politics of security. Environmental Crisis Students of economics, like Hans Opschoor and me, were taught the only goods that cost nothing are water and air, in university lectures until only some decades ago. By considering water and air as free goods, humankind proves itself capable of sawing off the branch on which it sits. Humanity now faces an environmental emergency...
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