Environmental Context






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The North/South Divide

Map-North vs SouthResource Usage

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The arguments for intragenerational equity are particularly relevant between nations of differing prosperity. The logic of sustainable development would seem to require that each nation meet its own needs without reducing the ability of other nations to meet theirs. The extent to which some nations might be affecting the environment of others and their ability to meet their needs is discussed in this chapter and the next chapter.

There are various conventions for dividing up the world into groups of nations of similar wealth and degrees of industrialisation. None of them are particularly satisfactory. One way is to speak of the first world (high-income, industrialised nations with a capitalist economy), the second world (communist nations) and the third world (low-income nations). While much of the so-called second world no longer fits this category, the term 'third world' is still widely used. Some people divide the world into developed nations and developing nations, depending on how advanced they are towards the goal of industrialisation. But since development can have a variety of meanings, and since industrialisation is not the only possible goal of development, these terms are somewhat inadequate.

An attempt to use terms that are less political and less value-laden has involved the division of the world into north and south. Most of the affluent countries are in the northern part of the globe, including Japan, the USA, Canada and the countries that make up Europe; and most low-income countries are south of them, including those in Asia, Africa and South America. While Australia is geographically located in the southern hemisphere, it is considered to be a part of the 'north', which makes the division confusing.

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