Paper Example on Conflict between the Goals of Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Sustainability

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1734 Words
Date:  2022-04-12


The global economy has arguably improved in recent years but the environment has continually degraded in effect which has prompted current debate on whether that growth is effective or destructive. The major challenge lies in the inability or unwillingness of policy makers to recognize the correlation between what is considered economic growth and sustainable development. Although the effects of the perceived economic growth are there for everyone to see from climate change and loss of biodiversity, we have failed to acknowledge the link between sustainability and growth by isolating the two concepts (Daly, 1991). The World Summit for Social Development Denmark (1995) inaugurated the Poverty Watch in an attempt to show the rapid growth of poverty and social inequality in the world. Poverty, as a result of a combination of socio-economic and political factors, is one of the most perverse-and historical-faces of social inequality that requires, beyond identifying its causes, the discovery of creative alternatives for overcoming it. The failure to link Economic growth and environmental sustainability by treating them in isolation is what has contributed to the huge geographical and socio-economic inequalities experienced globally.

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Addressing Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability to Reduce Poverty

Recognizing that poverty and inequality are linked to the environment would go a long way to formation of policy and institutional changes that address the issues collectively. The current social dynamics have once again given great visibility to economic inequalities, putting them under intense public and analytical attention. Economic growth indicators in this respect have been multiplying, accompanied by a rapidly growing number of studies and research on various aspects of contemporary social inequalities. These indicators, surveys, and research have been developed by sociologists, economists and other social scientists, from a variety of research centers, statistical institutes, civic organizations and international organizations. Taken together, these recent analyses on the subject have put evidence of the strong presence and cross-cutting character of contemporary social inequalities, the various domains in which they manifest themselves and the connections established with many other aspects of social life, as well as the plurality of complexity of its causes and the even greater diversity of its impacts, many of them with high social relevance. Diamond (1999) argues that economic growth is inevitable as communities engage in trade, diffusion and exploitation of environmental resources. Poverty and environmental degradation deny people access to basic needs, in a disadvantaged social environment, subjecting them to an endless struggle for survival.

Addressing linkages between poverty and environment concerns must be at the core of global efforts to eradicating poverty. Environmental degradation resulting from unsustainable development activities deprives the people access to the fundamental services that are provided by ecosystems and which determine human well-being. Social exclusion is not only a result of insufficient income, although without generating and distributing income in a more equitable way, so that every citizen can have access to private goods and essential public services, but it will also be challenging to think that poverty will be overcome, and even further will be social and human development. Poverty-focused actions that focus on their definition solely by economic aspects cannot produce satisfactory results. We need to understand that the situation of social vulnerability experienced by many is, first of all, a violation of human rights, starting with the most basic of them: the right to life, the primordial right of every human being - provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Humans - and the first to be compromised in situations of poverty and misery.

Colonization and formation of the national society in the framework of development gave rise to the broad process of primitive accumulation, intertwining the great exploration, the black slavery and the monopoly of metropolitan commerce. In his book "Guns, Germs, and Steel," Diamond explores how different cultures, e.g., Africa and America fought colonization and oppression to survive. He seeks to reflect on the negative impacts early explorers such as Christopher Columbus had on conquered societies. Slavery prevented the use of free labor, generated a disqualification of work in general and displacing the slave freed from their social and existential bases. Guns, Germs, and Steel provide an understanding of how the Fayu people of New Guinea used available resources to improve their quality of life. Colonization and the greed for control of available natural resources is what have led to the increased socio-economic inequalities and poverty. Consequently, the poor have been left in conflicts as they fight to exploit the remaining resources causing environmental degradation and unsustainable development.

It is undeniable that enormous advances have been recorded in the last decades: since 1960, infant mortality in developing countries has fallen by more than 50%, while the incidences of malnutrition dropped by 30%. In 20 years, China and 14 other states, representing 1.6 billion people, have cut the number of people living below poverty line by 50%. 840 million people, including 160 million children, are undernourished, 100 million children are out of school, nearly 900 million people are illiterate, and even more, do not have access to safe drinking water (Sachs, 2015). It is because of alarming numbers such as these that there is a need to implement redistributive policies, which point to the direction of self-sustaining development, whose effects are reversed to combat the causes of poverty, and may, in the long run, constitute a factor in breaking the feedback loop of misery. Such policies may be able to interrupt, as Gunnar Myrdal wanted, the principle of circular causation, in which poverty and misery end up generating more poverty and suffering, a perspective that takes on an enormous economic dimension if we try to calculate the cost of poverty by causing more poverty.

Environmental management cannot be treated separately from other development concerns, but must be integrated into poverty alleviation and sustainable development efforts so as to achieve lasting and significant results. Addressing social issues and tackling poverty, with a clear development-focused commitment, is not a concession. It is a question of respecting the fundamental rights of its members in a democracy. What is at stake, as the UN warns, is the issue of human rights violations. As the UNDP Human Development Report (2000) points out, "eradicating poverty is an important human rights task in the 21st century. A decent standard of living, sufficient nutrition, health care, education, work and protection against disasters are not simply development goals; they are also human rights. "Environmental degradation perpetrated by man has resulted in climate changes that in turn are giving rise to various phenomena such as floods, cyclones, droughts, and food insecurity, which are affecting humanity. These challenges have created a global concern necessitating and mobilizing humankind to find sustainable solutions. In order to benefit the poor and achieve environmental sustainability, institutional and policy changes cutting across all sectors of economic growth must be enforced.

Short-run economic gains that ignore environmental degradation undermine the effectiveness of economic growth in reducing poverty and inequality. The environment is degraded with the launch of waste to water; soil and air degrade the environment through the intensive exploitation of natural resources and others. Evidence points to a complex relationship between social exclusion and economic failure, as well as the institutional failure as the leading promoters of environmental degradation and poverty. Much of human history has always been about conflicts between the haves and the have-nots, as explored in Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel. Both the poor and the rich are responsible for environmental degradation. However, despite all contributing to the destruction of the environment, social inequality has made the poor to suffer most of the consequences (Hardin, 1968). For example, while the rich can buy equipment to filter water for consumption in the case of river contamination, the poor do not have these resources, eventually consuming contaminated water. Poverty has largely contributed to serious disputes which involve loss of life and destruction of resources. As Diamond (1999) observes, competition for resources and food production have led to the increased warfare among communities and societies as they develop their geographical scope under disguise of civilization.

It is necessary, especially in developing countries, to adopt redistributive policies that prioritize the reduction of inequality, as proposed by Barros, Henriques, and Mendonca (2000). Variation in income distribution has historically been one of the significant obstacles to combating exclusion. This strategy, they insist, must combine structural redistributive policies - from the redistribution of assets, in particular: accelerating education, agrarian reform and access to credit - that have a medium and long-term impact, with compensatory redistributive policies - like programs, which temporarily correct subsequent inequalities with short-term implications. Minimum income programs are a good example, mainly when associated with education and other components of human development. It is towards this perspective that UNESCO has been making efforts to reorient its policies of action aimed at eradicating poverty. This is an important position, like UNESCO, over its more than half-century existence, has accumulated a wealth of knowledge built in the direct struggle with different types of social problems throughout the world. Thus, realizing the need for change, UNESCO is signaling the advent of a new paradigm of development by reorienting its action plans to place them in the effort to combat poverty.

There is need to integrate poverty-environment concerns into global and national development frameworks through sectorial policy reforms and formulation of sustainable poverty reduction strategies in order to address the environmental concerns of the poor for sustainable development. In the field of Education, UNESCO's efforts should integrate basic education, the creation of community-oriented programs, and the promotion of broad-based university access initiatives for the underprivileged, as well as the creation of an Agenda for Education in the 21st Century based on the World Education Forum in Dakar, (2000). Various intergovernmental scientific related programs should be developed and applied to the multiple themes of sustainable development, directly linked to water, energy, recycling and the appropriate use of technologies. As for microfinance, the challenge lies in to promote their expansion, with the access of the less privileged, especially women, to social services and benefits facilities. The cultural dimension of development is a precondition for the access of poor families and population groups to education. It is important to understand that environmental differences determine how different societies provide food for themselves, and that it is these diversities that guide their place in the society (Diamond, 1999).

The discussion on income distribution has intensified after the failure of neoliberal reforms implemented in the 1990s in the so-called developing countries. The debate began to focus on poverty...

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