Future as Fairness: Ecological Justice and Global Citizenship

Future as Fairness: Ecological Justice and Global Citizenship

Future as Fairness: Ecological Justice and Global Citizenship

Future as Fairness: Ecological Justice and Global Citizenship

Synopsis

Twenty years after the establishment of the World Commission on Environment and Development, the 13 contributions in this interdisciplinary volume offer a broad spectrum of perspectives and research-based recommendations on environmental sustainability, social justice and the human enterprise. The cases explored cover global citizenly rights and obligations, environmental health, ecological building practices, tradable fuel permits, forestry and illegal logging, local waste management, employment and risk assessments, the genetic modification debate, nuclear and toxic waste, global environmental governance and 500 years of globalization.

Excerpt

The chapters in this volume will hopefully contribute to a cooperative and sustainable future. the chapters deal with injustice, risks, vulnerability, trust and hope, and with lessons to be learned from each other's mistakes and successes.

Much of the infrastructure and consumption patterns of 'highly developed' countries are based on unsustainably high levels of resource use. From a sustainable development perspective, 'developed countries' may be viewed not only as unsustainable, but paradoxically also less 'developed' than we often portray them. High rates of consumption in the developed world should, however, imply technological capability to attain a more sustainable level of development. Many citizens in developed countries are more than willing to contribute to sustainable and peaceful development, and they need their countries to shift toward more resourcefriendly regulations and infrastructure solutions in order to achieve sustainable patterns of production and consumption.

Less developed countries often must make choices for infrastructural development that will greatly impact future resource use. Resource-intensive, resource-friendly and high-risk technologies are available options on the world market, and some of these countries might look to today's countries with wealth and power when selecting technology or making resource management policy. Some developed countries recognize they are trapped in a resource-intensive, high-risk infrastructure; additionally, many understand the importance that lessdeveloped countries get this message. When the developed world acknowledges its unsustainable patterns, the signal to 'avoid repeating our mistakes' will gain the necessary credibility. This message is not credible if today's wealthy countries refuse to admit that they have serious challenges related to sustainable resource use and development.

At the same time, however, global change does not always occur quickly. Today's developed countries may require some patience from the rest of the world. 'Limits to growth' at a global ecology level was framed as a relatively new concept 30-40 years ago. Hence, today's wealthy countries developed their societal infrastructure in a time when resourceefficiency was not an aim in and of itself. Natural resources were one out of many input factors, and often an inexpensive one, so there seemed to be no incentives to develop resource-friendly alternatives. More than 30 years after the first un conference on 'the human environment' in Stockholm − which put resource limits to growth high on the agenda − mainstream infrastructural solutions in most wealthy countries are still unnecessarily resource-intensive. This situation must change, but it is also important to acknowledge that relative changes toward resource-friendly infrastructure . . .

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