Developing equitable approaches of economic development
Developing sufficiency scenarios of economic development based on a more equitable redistribution of resource use between present and future generations and between developed and developing countries.
The billion people, or one-fifth, of the world's population who consume three-quarters of the world's resources are living unsustainable lifestyles because it would be impossible to sustain all humanity at this level of consumption. Another million people live far below the poverty line, are underfed and deprived of the most basic requirements. They are trying to produce and consume more and no one has the moral right to deny them this. In between are 3,000 million people who are relatively poor, but still able to meet their basic needs and live predominantly in poor "developing" countries. They aspire to develop to the level of the top billion. But were they to achieve this there would be an increase in pollution and the use of natural resources by a factor of 3 to 4, which would again intolerably exceed the limits of the Earth. This fact does not negate the wishes of the poor countries whose purpose is, naturally, to advance themselves. It is short-sighted given such inequity that only those countries who are presently "rich" and "industrial" will always remain in these positions. So there is an impasse. How long the have-nots continue to accept that only the lucky can reap the benefits of disproportionate growth, and how soon those one-fifth of the world fail to respond adequately to the reality of limited environmental resources, will determine the degree to which increased social tensions will contribute to redistribution.
After decades of successful economic development for the affluent fifth of humankind, life remains deprived and unrelieved by the products of development for the poorest 5,600 million people. We need a carefully defined "sustainable economic and social development" for all, starting with decent health care and high-level education.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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