Today's date:
Summer 2002

Fairness in a Fragile World

A decade after the Cold War was resolved in a consensus for materialist globalization, the central new debate that has emerged is over how to include the poor majority in the promise of prosperity without destroying the environment. Can poverty best be reduced by manufacturing exports for the global middle class, or by delinking from the competitive imperatives of open markets that undermine local livelihoods and upset the ecological balance?

This special issue of NPQ publishes excerpts of a memorandum on this debate sponsored by the German Heinrich Böll Foundation and edited by one of the clearest-minded environmental thinkers today, Wolfgang Sachs.

The memo, entitled Fairness in a Fragile World, is aimed at influencing the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in September, but stands alone as the manifesto of an alternative development model. Wolfgang Sachs and his colleagues have rigorously made the case for a transition from development economics to livelihood politics and pondered the revolutionary implications.

Clearly, this is a radical document. But, when facing the inexorable momentum of conventional development thinking, the authors are no doubt right that idealism is the only realism.

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