Paradigm: Sustainable Popular
This paper focuses on the problems of developing a strategy of sustainable development. It builds upon the principles of a diversified productive base, creative use of local resources, and local participation in planning and implementation. This essay identifies many opportunities to reflect on the importance of sustainability, and the possibilities of implementing approaches that move us in a new direction. But it also suggests that there are significant obstacles to such progress. In the last section, it explores such an approach, suggesting that it may be possible and necessary to promote a new form of sustainable popular development: a structure of local autonomy that allows people to rebuild their rural societies, produce goods and services in a sustainable fashion while expanding the environmental stewardship services they have always provided.
NEOLIBERALISM is exacerbating the polarization of society in all of its dimensions. Structural adjustments, with their program for international economic integration and public sector austerity on the domestic front have radically reduced the possibilities for equitable economic growth and the satisfaction of social needs. For most Latin Americans, neoliberalism is a nightmare. Falling real income, increasing unemployment, and the accelerated withdrawal of social safety nets leaves us with few alternatives.
A significant number of people, however, have chosen to attempt to construct their own independent paths to survival. At present many of these strategies are no more than precarious arrangements to assure the income needed to hold body and soul together. They involve a combination of traditional forms of production for increasing local self-sufficiency, financed by other activities in the same region or elsewhere; at present, people are forced to migrate, often accepting jobs in the
* Department of Economics, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Xochimilco, Mexico.