nuovo libro WWI
- Subject: nuovo libro WWI
- From: "Alessandro Gimona" <agimona at hotmail.com>
- Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 19:51:04 BST
nuovo libro del world Watch Institute (ordinabile on-line
http://www.worldwatch.org) su ambiente e globalizzazione.
Spero interessi (e che aiuti i futuri politici a mettere a punto politiche
GLOBALIZATION STRAINING PLANET'S HEALTH:
Cross-Border Alliances Needed to Safeguard Environment
Globalization presents growing threats to the planet and its
according to a new report from the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington
research organization. Forests are shrinking as the value of global trade
forest products climbs, from $29 billion in 1961 to $139 billion in 1998.
fisheries are collapsing as fish exports rise, growing nearly fivefold in
since 1970 to reach $52 billion in 1997. Human health is also endangered,
pesticide exports increasing nearly ninefold since 1961, to $11.4 billion
"The surge in movements of goods, money, species, and pollution across
international borders is placing unprecedented strains on the planet,"
Hilary French, author of Vanishing Borders: Protecting the Planet in the
Globalization. "Ironically, the best way to tackle these problems is by
globalization to work for us, instead of against us."
Channeling globalization to protect, rather than undermine, the
natural systems, is key to building an environmentally stable society in
21st century. People are using new communications technologies to create
powerful international coalitions, like last December's outpouring of
concern at the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle. And
help spread environmentally beneficial products and technologies, from
shade-grown coffee to wind power.
World exports of goods increased 17-fold between 1950 and 1998, from
billion to $5.4 trillion; the volume of foreign direct investment has
almost 15-fold just since 1970, reaching $644 billion in 1998; and the
transnational corporations worldwide grew from 7,000 in 1970 to some
These trends pose major environmental challenges. While economists
record-breaking increases in global commerce in recent decades, more
statistics are being reported by the world's leading biologists: the loss
living species in recent decades represents the largest mass extinction
the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago.
Globalization is a powerful driving force behind today's unprecedented
biological implosion. An upsurge of trade and investment in natural
sectors such as forestry, mining, and petroleum development is threatening
health of the world's forests, mountains, waters, and other sensitive
ecosystems. And the rapid growth in the movement of human beings and their
and services has provided convenient transportation for thousands of other
species of plants and animals that are now taking root on foreign shores.
given day, some 2 million people cross international borders, while 3,000
10,000 aquatic species are moving around the world in ship ballasts. Once
"exotic species" establish a beachhead in a foreign ecosystem, they often
proliferate, suppressing native species, and imposing high economic costs.
International commerce is also a potent mechanism through which
products and technologies move around the world. Over the last few
developing world has become home to a growing share of the hazard-laden
petrochemical industry. Approximately 41 percent of U.S. foreign direct
investment in the Philippines in 1998 was in chemicals, as was 22 percent
such investment in Colombia.
High-tech industries such as computers and electronics have also gone
in recent years. Despite their early reputation as relatively clean, these
industries can exact heavy environmental costs. Semiconductor
employs hundreds of chemicals, including arsenic, benzene, and chromium,
which are known carcinogens. More than half of all computer manufacturing
assembly operations-processes intensive in their use of acids, solvents,
toxic gases-are now located in developing countries, according to the San
California-based Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.
Despite the environmental risks, the forces of globalization can also
produce environmental gains, such as helping developing countries leapfrog
the cleaner technologies of tomorrow. China has become the world's largest
manufacturer of energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs in recent
years, in part through joint ventures with lighting firms based in Hong
Japan, the Netherlands, and Taiwan. And India has become a major
advanced wind turbines with the help of technology obtained through joint
ventures and licensing agreements with Danish, Dutch, and German firms.
Several countries are working to harness the global economy to protect
rather than decimate natural wealth. Costa Rica is now a major destination
eco-tourists, capitalizing on its moist cloud forests, sandy beaches, and
deciduous forests. And many other countries have moved to tap into the
international market for organic produce. Mexico now has some 10,000
farms on 15,000 hectares of land, most of them run by small farmers. While
coffee is their mainstay, Mexico's organic farmers also cultivate apples,
avocados, coconuts, cardamom, honey, and potatoes.
Redirecting the global economy away from environmentally harmful
and into more sustainable ones will require a multi-pronged strategy,
with requiring international economic institutions to pay more heed to the
environmental impact of their programs. Since the World Trade Organization
established in 1994, its dispute resolution panels have ruled that several
national environmental laws constitute illegal trade barriers, including
provisions of a U.S. law aimed at protecting endangered sea turtles and a
European Union (EU) ban on the sale of hormone-raised beef. And trade
are rising between the European Union and the U.S. over European
planting genetically modified crops and a requirement that food containing
be labeled as such.
French calls for the WTO to incorporate a greater respect for the
precautionary principle, which holds that lack of scientific certainty
not be used as a reason for postponing action where there are threats of
or irreversible damage. She also advocates protecting consumers' right to
about the health and environmental impact of products they purchase by
safeguarding eco-labeling programs, allowing countries to use trade
protect the global commons, and deferring to international environmental
treaties in cases where they conflict with trade rules.
Better integration of environmental issues into the lending programs
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund would yield additional
dividends. On paper, the development-oriented World Bank is far more open
the IMF to environmental concerns. But a recent internal review by the
Bank of more than 50 recent structural adjustment loans found that few of
paid much heed to environmental and social matters. Whereas a 1993 Bank
found that some 60 percent of such loans included environmental goals, the
recent study concluded that this share had now plummeted to less than 20
A stronger international environmental infrastructure is also needed
as an ecological counterweight to today's growing economic powerhouses.
Environmental treaties now number more than 230, with three-fourths of
agreed to over the last thirty years. But the effectiveness of these
is often undermined by vague commitments and lax enforcement.
"Environmentalists should take a page from the World Trade
push for international environmental commitments that are as specific and
enforceable as trade accords have become," says French. In Vanishing
French calls for upgrading the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) into a
Environmental Organization that can coordinate and strengthen the current
scattered collection of environmental treaty bodies.
New information and communications technologies can be harnessed to
powerful cross-border political alliances-a trend that is already well
The number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working across
borders soared during the last century, climbing from just 176 in 1909 to
than 23,000 in 1998. Empowered by e-mail and the Internet, environmental
activists have gradually organized themselves into a range of powerful
international networks, such as the Climate Action Network, the
Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, and the Women's Environment
Some forward-looking corporations are helping to chart the path to an
environmentally sustainable global economy, according to the report. In
years, some 10,000 companies worldwide, many from the developing world,
become certified under the voluntary environmental management guidelines
by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization, a
federation of national standards-setting bodies.
Private investors are also increasingly active on environmental
1999, concerned investors introduced 54 shareholder resolutions related to
environmental issues. In one particularly successful case, Home Depot
a commitment to purchasing certified timber just three months after 12
of its shareholders asked the company to stop selling wood from old-growth
In Vanishing Borders, French finds that innovative partnerships are
forged between activist groups, businesses and international institutions,
including several independent eco-labeling initiatives that aim to bring
consumer pressure to bear on behalf of environmental change. For example,
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was established in 1993 to set standards
sustainable forest production through a cooperative process involving
traders and retailers as well as environmental organizations and forest
dwellers. As of late 1999, FSC-accredited bodies had certified some 17
hectares of forest in 30 countries, up from only 1 million hectares in
Despite these encouraging developments, environmental destruction
to outpace society's collective response. "Over the course of the
century, the global economy stretched the planet to its limits," said
"The time is now ripe to forge the international policies and institutions
needed to ensure that the world economy of the 21st century meets peoples'
aspirations for a better future without destroying the natural fabric that
underpins life itself."
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