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Need to redefine north-south
It is all too clear that it is not sustainable for us to continue producing and
consuming as we do at present, and that we are rapidly depleting the plan-
et’s resources. Climate change is merely aggravating problems of water scar-
city, the energy we consume is non-renewable, agricultural output could fall
and prices rise due to land degradation, among others. At the same time
growing population, especially in developing countries, will put increasing
pressure on resources.
In spite of growing awareness existing political ing new hierarchies sometimes even more re-
organizations are not suited to coping with our pressive than the ones they supplanted. We have
common challenge. Environmental concern has also seen environmental arguments used to dis-
become dominant in the post-industrial north, possess native populations of their land, impos-
but it is still low on the public agenda in devel- ing new ownership and production patterns.

oping countries. There is increasing feeling in What is most needed today is increased par-
some African and Asian countries that the west ticipation by all concerned in decision-making
is “exporting” a politically loaded discourse and processes, including the most vulnerable popu-
trying to impose western priorities on them. lations affected by environmental degradation.
Moreover the environmentally aware stance In practice, this is difficult to achieve. Around
promoted by the west is only a part of overarch- the Mediterranean there are various types of
ing western policies and interests (including states, displaying different degrees of economic
economic, financial and military components). development and institutional capacity. To the
In the larger picture the environment is still north European countries not only boast high
of marginal interest and often contradicted by economic and technical development, but also
other priorities. states with institutions of considerable execu-
tive capacity. In addition European countries
Discourse alone cannot change a reality intrin- have a highly developed regional organization
sically linked to power relations. We have seen in the form of the European Union. Facing this
in the past how egalitarian ideologies could be armada of European states and institutions, the
used to restructure the exercise of power, creat- Middle Eastern and North African countries have
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