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Be an Effective Agent for Change! a post-graduate course in Education for Sustainability

Supplementary Digital Study Packs
for modules taught by Róbinson Rojas

1) Development Planning Unit (UCL):
- Managing and Planning for Development: International and National Dimensions
- Urban Development and Economics

2) Education for Sustainability Programme (LSBU):

- Local and Global with a focus on NGO education
- Theories and Perspectives on Environment and Development

Theories and Perspectives on Environment and Development
Brief graphics notes for Strand 2 in Unit 5
(Theories and Perspectives on Environment and Development)

Dr. Róbinson Rojas –January 2010

From Monthly Review - May 2004
Ideology and Economic Development
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economic theory is not neutral, and the results when it is applied owe much to the implicit and explicit assumptions embedded in a particular theory. That such assumptions reflect specific ideologies is most obvious in the case of the neoclassical economics that underlies neoliberal economic policies.

UNU-WIDER - December 2006
The World Distribution of Household Wealth
Pioneering Study Shows Richest Two Percent Own Half World Wealth

The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth according to a path-breaking study released today by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER).
The most comprehensive study of personal wealth ever undertaken also reports that the richest 1% of adults alone owned 40% of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total. In contrast, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1% of global wealth.

From Sustainability 2010
Eco-nomics: Are the Planet-Unfriendly Features of Capitalism Barriers to Sustainability?
Merrill Singer

This paper argues that there are essential features of capitalist modes of production, consumption, and waste dispersal in interaction with the environment and its built-in systemic features that contradict long-term sustainable development. These features include:
(a) contradictions in the origin and meaning of sustainability;
(b) the central role of the productivity ethic in capitalism and its reproduction in emergent green capitalism;
(c) the commodification of nature and the continued promotion of expanding consumption;
(d) globalism and the contradictions of continued Western-style development; and
(e) the emergence of anthropogenic ecocrises and crises interaction.
In light of these barriers to capitalist sustainability, an alternative social narrative is needed, one that embraces values, understandings, and relationships that promote ecological stability and justice.

Recommended reading:
Sustainable Development: Mainstream and Critical Perspectives
Carlos J. Castro - 2004 - University of Oregon - U.S.A.
Published in Organization and Environment 2004; 17; 195
The online version of this article can be found at

"Like democracy and globalization, the concept of sustainable development has become one of the most ubiquitous, contested, and indispensable concepts of our time. Although the concept was first introduced in response to environmental concerns, it has been defined primarily by the mainstream tradition of economic analysis, which tends to marginalize the issue of ecological sustainability itself. Recently, however, scholars advancing various critical perspectives challenged the mainstream economic analysis of sustainable development. This essay examines the presuppositions, logic, and major themes of mainstream sustainable development theory, primarily within economics, and explores the critiques of mainstream analysis offered by various poststructuralist cultural theorists and ecological Marxists.
Although considered to be superior in their greater emphasis on ecological sustainability, neither of these critical approaches is deemed adequate in itself. The argument here instead leads to the conception that an adequate approach to sustainable development requires combining insights from various critical approaches and perspectives.

10th Raul Prebisch Lecture,
Delivered at the Palais des Nations Geneva, 11 December 2000
Markets, Politics and Globalization: Can the Global Economy be Civilized?
By Gerald Karl Helleiner
Professor Emeritus, Department of Economics and Distinguished Research Fellow, Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, Canada

Market forces are powerful ... and they can be powerful for good. But every professional economist, and all but the most ideologically encrusted, recognize that, left unchecked, they can yield socially deleterious outcomes. The economic theory of perfectly competitive markets takes careful account of market failures in the forms of externalities, public goods and the like; and begins, it is important to remember, by entirely abstracting from the equity of income distribution and the distribution of power. Empirical reality also presents us with an imperfection-ridden market system - imperfectly competitive, imperfectly informed, with many markets missing entirely. It also presents us with grotesquely inequitable initial conditions. To many, if not indeed by now the majority, inequities in the distribution of income, wealth and power are both the most important determinants of economic outcomes in market systems and the most important targets for international economic policy.

UN: World Economic Situation and Prospects

World Economic Situation and Prospects 2010
The global economy is on the mend …
The world economy is on the mend. After a sharp, broad and synchronized global downturn in late 2008 and early 2009, an increasing number of countries have registered positive quarterly growth of gross domestic product (GDP), along with a notable recovery in international trade and global industrial production. World equity markets have also rebounded and risk premiums on borrowing have fallen.
… but recovery is fragile
World Economic Situation and Prospects 2009
It was never meant to happen again, but the world economy is now mired in the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. In little over a year, the mid-2007 subprime mortgage debacle in the United States of America has developed into a global financial crisis and started to move the global economy into a recession. Aggressive monetary policy action in the United States and massive liquidity injections by the central banks of the major developed countries were unable to avert this crisis. Several major financial institutions in the United States and Europe have failed, and stock market and commodity prices have collapsed and become highly volatile. Interbank lending in most developed countries has come to a virtual standstill, and the spread between the interest rate on interbank loans and treasury bills has surged to the highest level in decades. Retail businesses and industrial firms, both large and small, are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain credit as banks have become reluctant to lend, even to long-time customers. In October 2008, the financial crisis escalated further with sharp falls on stock markets in both developed and emerging economies. Many countries experienced their worst ever weekly sell off in equity markets

UN: World Economic and Social Situation
Global Economic Prospects and the Dev. Countries (GEPDC) (various years)
Global Development Finance (GDF) (various years)

Statistical Indicators for Asia and the Pacific
Data Center
Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific

Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2009
World Bank:
Africa Development Indicators(ADI) (various years)
Global Employment Trends and Related Reports
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  4. Skills and Employability Department (EMP/SKILLS)
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International Trade Statistics (ITS) (various years)

Back to World Economic and Social Situation and Prospects

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