The Compromise of Liberal Environmentalism

The Compromise of Liberal Environmentalism

The Compromise of Liberal Environmentalism

The Compromise of Liberal Environmentalism

Excerpt

The germ of the idea that eventually evolved into this book came on the eve of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It was a time of great hope for people who shared a concern over the fate of the global environment, but tempered by uneasiness over the course the summit set for understanding and addressing these problems. Almost 10 years later, the legacy of those ideas and decisions—a legacy I label the “compromise of liberal environmentalism”—remains powerfully in place. It can be found in the ideas that undergird many of the most important and far reaching international environmental treaties such as on climate change and biodiversity, in the policies and programs of international environment and development organizations ranging from the United Nations Environment Programme to the World Bank and throughout the United Nations system as a whole, and in the way powerful non-environmental organizations such as the World Trade Organization—which increasingly finds itself making decisions with potential environmental consequences—try to respond to the demands to accommodate environmental and development concerns in their decisions and policies. Even many nongovernmental organizations rest their proposals for action on this framework, as do many states in their domestic policies.

Given the potential impact of these institutions and policies for the fate of the planet's ecological systems and human life and health, I thought it crucial to uncover the reasons why states and international in-

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