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The Sustainable Use of Resources on a Global Scale


The need to reconcile social and environmental goals for sustainable development still poses problems for policy makers in the richer parts of the world. Using the examples of domestic water and energy, this paper argues that the problems are reflected, and often magnifed, in developing countries. They arise largely from conflicts between the short-term need to alleviate poverty and longer-term objectives for environmental sustainability. The dual nature of water and energy as both social and economic goods raises questions about the most appropriate forms of provision and allocation of the utilities. It is in no one’s long-term interest for developing countries to repeat the environmentally damaging mistakes of the industrialized world. But an equitable distribution of the short-term costs attached to a more environmentally responsible use of resources demands new ways of thinking about global social justice.