As the world searches for ways to lessen the threats to its ecosystems, solutions should not ignore the human component- namely, the voices of people in developing countries. The end goal of development in these nations is to live the same type of lifestyle that people in developed countries already live, and preventing them from doing so in the name of saving the environment is in many ways unjust. The path that currently industrialized countries took to develop was just as ecologically destructive, if not more ecologically destructive, than the path on which developing countries are headed, so many would say that developed countries have little right to tell other countries what to do. Also, many developing countries suffer from abject poverty that may be alleviated, at least in the short term, through exploitation of resources. Encouraging “green” development that might prolong that poverty may come off as favoring ecosystems over people.
What is the role of developed countries in influencing countries that have yet to develop? How do we go about weighing the needs of people against the needs of ecosystems? These are difficult ethical issues without clear answers. However, with sustainable modes of development, it may be possible for all countries to suit their needs while also maintaining the natural world for future generations. Explore the drop-down menu Achieving Sustainable Development to learn more.