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  1. 1
    074857

    International Symposium: For the Survival of Mankind: Population, Environment and Development.

    Mainichi Shimbun; Japan. National Institute for Research Advancement; United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA]

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan, Dept. of Population Planning and International Health, [1989]. xxxiii, 134 p.

    In August 1989, scientists and leaders of international and national groups met at the international symposium for the Survival of Mankind in Tokyo, Japan, to discuss ideas about the interrelationship between population, environment, and development and obstacles to attaining sustainable development. The President of the Worldwatch Institute opened the symposium with a talk about energy, food, and population. Of fossil fuels, nuclear power, and solar energy, only the clean and efficient solar energy can provide sustainable development. Humanity has extended arable lands and irrigation causing soil erosion, reduced water tables, produced water shortages, and increased salivation. Thus agricultural advances since the 1950s cannot continue to raise crop yields. He also emphasized the need to halt population growth. He suggested Japan provide more international assistance for sustainable development. This talk stimulated a lively debate. The 2nd session addressed the question whether the planet can support 5. 2 billion people (1989 population). The Executive Director of UNFPA informed the audience that research shows that various factors are needed for a successful population program: political will, a national plan, a prudent assessment of the sociocultural context, support from government agencies, community participation, and improvement of women's status. Other topics discussed during this session were urbanization, deforestation, and international environmental regulation. The 3rd session covered various ways leading to North-South cooperation. A Chinese participant suggested the establishment of an international environmental protection fund which would assist developing countries with their transition to sustainable development and to develop clean energy technologies and environmental restoration. Another participant proposed formation of a North-South Center in Japan. The 4th session centered around means to balance population needs, environmental protection, and socioeconomic development.
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  2. 2
    122686

    Demographic entrapment -- a choice of uproar.

    King M

    CARRYING CAPACITY NETWORK FOCUS. 1997; 7(1):37-9.

    The subject of demographic entrapment is taboo in most UN agencies and in academia because of the upheaval that would occur if entrapment were acknowledged. Demographic entrapment occurs if a population has exceeded or is projected to exceed the combination of the carrying capacity of its own ecosystem and its ability to trade for its needs or to migrate to other ecosystems. Demographic entrapment leads populations to become progressively stunted physically (as is occurring in Malawi) or starve, die from disease, or implode in social chaos (Rwanda). Disentrapment can theoretically occur if communities increase the carrying capacity of their ecosystem, develop an export community, increase migratory opportunity, reduce population growth, or combine these measures. The major method of escaping entrapment seems to be reducing population growth by promoting one-child families. If developed countries urge developing countries to adopt this policy, developed countries should adopt it also because per capita consumption of natural resources in developed countries is perhaps 50 times greater than in developing countries. Discussion of demographic entrapment remains taboo because of fear that such discussion would challenge: 1) the materialistic, consumeristic, market economy that is the current foundation of global society; 2) the consumption and employment patterns of developed countries; 3) human rights notions about reproduction, anti-abortion attitudes, and pronatalist views; and 4) false assumptions about universal economic development. Countries (like Malawi) where entrapment is causing widespread malnutrition should receive interim food aid tied to population reduction. Developed countries should promote development of sustainable lifestyles that include having one-child families and consuming photon-efficient diets. UN agencies must face the uproar that will occur upon acknowledgement of entrapment in order to call for simultaneous reproductive and lifestyle changes throughout the world.
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  3. 3
    082357

    Environmental sustainability in economic development -- with emphasis on Amazonia.

    Goodland R

    In: Race to save the tropics. Ecology and economics for a sustainable future, edited by Robert Goodland. Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1990. 171-89.

    Sustainability denotes well-being, intergenerational equity, minimal use of exhaustible mineral reserves, slow depletion of nonrenewable energy resources allowing an orderly societal transition to renewable energy sources, and agricultural sustainability. Many parts of the world have already surpassed their carrying capacity. To effectively apply environmental management to economic development, decision makers must understand the fundamental relationship among growth, equality, and ethics. Liberation of women and reduction of excess consumption by the rich are needed to achieve environmental sustainability. We have been able to solve some environmental problems once they have reached a crisis stage by investing money into their solution. Prevention is the only means to address irreversible environmental effects, however. The major reason for biodiversity loss is destruction of tropical forests which support 50% of the world's 5-30 million species on 7% of the land area. A large percentage of the biodiversity in the Philippines, Haiti, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and parts of India is already gone. Some corporations have begun to respond responsibility to the environment. In 1987 the largest investor in economic development in developing countries, the World Bank, implemented environmental policies for all programs. The Bank normally refuses to finance projects designed to convert wildlands of special concern, e.g. to national parks. Projects concerning wildlands other than those of special concern should only occur on already converted land. A more open decision making process is required to justify any deviations from the above policies. If wildlands development is defended, the project should just convert less valuable wildlands. Financing preservation of another wildland is required for any conversion of wildlands not of special concern. If a project does not involve conversion of wildlands, the Bank requires the preservation of wildlands for their environmental services alone.
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  4. 4
    079150

    Population, resources and the environment. Report of the Secretary-General.

    United Nations. Secretary-General

    In: The population debate: dimensions and perspectives. Papers of the World Population Conference, Bucharest, 1974. Volume I. New York, New York, United Nations, 1975. 77-123. (Population Studies, No. 57; ST/ESA/SER.A/57)

    The Secretary-General's commentary on the state of population growth, resources, and the environment examines the most important relationship. Conflicts in resource use and distribution and essential resources are identified: potential water and land resources for agriculture, availability of potential arable land, new technology, carrying capacity, capital needs, the imbalance between population and arable land, energy needs, agricultural modernization, nonfuel mineral resources, and energy resources. The relationship between rapid population growth and the environment may be one where man is indeed capable of reducing the environmental consequences to tolerable level through reallocation of resources. There a 3 sets of environmental problems: 1) those related to poverty and inadequate social and economic development; 2) those arising from the development process itself; and 3) those which could have a major impact on climate or environmental conditions and are not well understood. The environmental problems of developed countries pertain to high levels of energy use and the problems of affluence. In poor countries, environmental problems are caused by rapid population growth and urbanization, and poverty. Environmental destruction from mining and transportation are discussed along with the need for conversion to alternative forms of energy and reduction of polluting energy use. Developing countries' problems focus on water supply and waste disposal, the benefits of environmental improvement, and the global changes possible in climate, carbon dioxide emissions, and particulate matter in the atmosphere. "Hot spots" from fossil fuel combustion and nuclear fission are occurring; accurate data, improved analytical models, and international cooperation in monitoring and analysis is essential. Settlement patterns and the costs plus the internal organization of large urban areas are some of the problems examined. Rural development, rural-urban migration, and population redistribution are other issues of concern. Urban development and urban growth strategies reflect the potential need to curb urban migration and a new settlement system. Technology's impact on population, research gaps, and policy implications are revealed. Definitions of societal objectives are necessary before deciding what technology is needed.
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  5. 5
    066854

    Public health and the ethics of sustainability. Swellengrebel Lecture.

    King M

    TROPICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL MEDICINE. 1990 Jul; 42(3):197-206.

    An exposition of the ethical arguments for placing sustainability as a priority in implementation of public health programs is made, considering the definition of sustainability, theories of the demographic transition, the ecological transition, the relationship between sustainability of the ecosystem and the human birth rate, types of ethical conflicts over the issue of child survival interventions, a suggested way of resolving the dilemma and a possible paradigm shift constituting a scientific revolution in the field of international health. Sustainability means maintenance of the capacity to support life in quantity and variety. Although most demographers are familiar with Notestein's classic definition of the demographic transition, many are unaware of the likelihood that many countries will become entrapped in stage 2, to the extent that they destroy their ecosystem and thus their population, the "demographic trap." The 3 stages of the ecological transition are 1) expanding human demands with sustainable yield; 2) excess human demands with consumption of biological reserves; 3) ecosystem collapse and death or exit of the human population. An early sign of the 3rd phase is a rise in infant mortality. Sustainability can be increased by adjusting the environment or by lowering human birth rate, with Chinese rigor in need be, or by adding sustainable elements to the system that outweigh de-sustaining ones. Unfortunately there are too many unremovable constraints, and not enough time to wait for socioeconomic gains to lower birth rates. The current attempt by UNICEF to lower the child death rate to effect a demographic transition is attractive but unsound, since it has been proven that numbers of child deaths do not affect family fertility sufficiently. Reducing child deaths will only make population pressure worse. Ethical principles arguing for lowering child deaths have been articulated in Western culture, but now the challenge of sustainability may outweigh them all. It may be possible to apply sustaining measures to countries where possible, but for others, it is argued that child survival measures should not be instituted. These would only make the demographic transition impossible and prolong human misery for larger numbers. For these societies, only the kind of care Mother Teresa gives is appropriate. Finally, residents of developed countries must assume a "deep green" behavior code, a sustainable consumption level. WHO's definition of health should be updated to "Health is a sustainable state of complete...well-being."
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  6. 6
    059418

    Development and the environment: a global balance.

    Conable BB

    [Unpublished] 1989. Presented at the Conference on Global Environment and Human Response toward Sustainable Development, Tokyo, Japan, September 11, 1989. 11 p.

    With the installation of Barner B. Conable as President of the World Bank, the Bank began to incorporate the environmental effects of development projects into its loan decisions. It has also augmented loans for environmental, population, and forestry projects. In 1988, >100 projects with important environmental elements (35% of all Bank and IDA projects) were approved, the majority of which were in agriculture. The Bank has expected the percentage of such projects to increase annually. Further, to assist the countries and the Bank in considering environmental concerns in the beginning stage of designing development projects, the Bank has developed Environmental Assessment Guidelines. The Bank has taken on a formidable task, however, since its primary purpose is to reduce poverty which often conflicts with protecting the environment. Its leadership believes that the 2 goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and, if they are to be achieved, the problems must be clearly defined and all the countries of the world must work towards solutions to benefit the global community. Additionally, the Bank has begun to encourage developing countries to switch to cleaner fuels, processes, and systems to curtail global warming. It also monitors research on carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbon emissions, all of which contribute to the greenhouse effect, and on climatic change. The Bank has recognized, however, that improvement in the environment cannot occur fast enough, at the rate the earth's population is increasing. Therefore it continues to fund family planning and health projects.
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  7. 7
    051917

    Statement at International Population Conference: Mexico City: August 1984.

    New Zealand

    [Unpublished] 1984. 4 p.

    In addressing the International Population Conference in Mexico City the New Zealand Delegation identified its role concerning the issues of world population and family planning. As a national member of the global community, New Zealand recognizes the importance of a worldwide balance of material goods and resources and population. Between the years 1974 and 1984, following the Population Conference in Bucharest, mortality trends have shown progress. The world population is gradually decreasing in developing and industrialized nations. however, during the same decade, the population showed an increase of 770 million. Many of the countries who experienced the greatest population increase were the least equipped to serve the population influx with proper food, shelter and health and education services. The Population Conferences have allowed for the global community to come together and review past accomplishments and to look at future needs. New Zealand's position on the role of women through family planning is to support women's exploration into positions beyond traditional roles and that women be fully incorporated in the process of development.
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  8. 8
    047690

    The earth's vital signs.

    Brown LR; Flavin C

    In: State of the world 1988. A Worldwatch Institute report on progress toward a sustainable society. New York, New York, W.W. Norton, 1988. 3-21.

    Most of the recognized threats to the world environment, such as the destruction of forests by acid rain, the ozone hole, population growth, energy use, and the greenhouse effect, have moved from hypothetical projections to present-day realities which can be solved only by international efforts. The Montreal accords of 1987 to limit the production of chlorofluorocarbons and the UN call for a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq war were steps in this direction. But a look at the "vital signs" of the earth as expressed by environmental crises will show how much more is needed. Deforestation for agriculture and logging causes as estimated loss of 11 million hectares of forest each year. Deforestation means erosion. The topsoil layer, once 6-10 inches deep over the globe is being blown or washed away at the rate of 26 billion tons a year. The soil is not only being depleted, it is being contaminated by agricultural pesticides and toxic wastes. In Poland, for example, 1/4 of the soil is unfit for food production, and only 1% of the water is safe for drinking due to chemical contamination. The depletion of the ozone layer is no longer observed only in Antarctica; it has dropped up to 9% in North Dakota, Maine, and Switzerland. The loss of forests and the acidification of lakes and soil are causing whole species to become extinct. World population continues to grow, as each year 80 million more people are born than die. But the real problem is not population growth per se; it is the relationship between population size and the sustainable yield of local forests, grasslands, and croplands. In 1982 India's forests could sustain an annual harvest of 30 million tons of wood; the estimated demand was 133 million tons. In 9 Southern African countries the number of cattle exceed the carrying capacity of the grasslands by 50% to 100%. In India enough fodder is raised to supply only 50% to 80% of the needs of cattle. The results of deforestation, overgrazing and overplowing is desertification, which compounded by drought, brings famine. The relationship between population growth and land degradation is reflected in per capita food production. In China it has risen by 1/3 since 1970, but in Africa it has fallen by 1/5; and India, despite the Green Revolution, will have to import grain if there is another failure of the monsoons. Another indicator of environmental ill-health is energy consumption, which is again on the rise. Industrial use of oil and coal, especially in the US, the USSR, and China, has resulted in air pollution and acid rain, which by September 1987 had damaged 30.7 million hectares of forests in Europe. But by far the most serious result of the burning of fossil fuels and wood is the 7 billion tons of carbon discharged annually into the atmosphere, causing the greenhouse effect, which will raise the global temperature between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius by year 2050. Patterns of World settlement and agriculture will change drastically; irrigation and drainage systems will have to be adjusted; and a rise in sea levels between 1.4 and 2.2 meters by year 2100 could inundate coastal cities. In view of these deteriorating "vital signs" of the planet, nations must work together to turn one earth into one world. The Montreal accord on ozone protection and the 1987 US-Soviet arms limitation were a good beginning. The greenhouse effect and the changing climate are logical candidates for the next round of world environmental deliberations.
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  9. 9
    038079

    Electricity for a developing world: new directions.

    Flavin C

    Washington, D.C., Worldwatch Institute, 1986. 66 p. (Worldwatch Paper 70)

    This monograph focuses on developing electric power, the efficient use of electricity, new approaches in rural electrification, and decentralizing generators and institutions. Electric power systems, for a long time considered showpieces of development, now are central to some of the most serious problems 3rd world countries face. Many 3rd world utilities are so deeply in debt that international bailouts may be required to stave off bankruptcy. Financial probles, together with various technical difficulties, have resulted in a serious decline in the reliability of many 3rd world power systems, which may impede industrial growth. At this time the common presumption that developing countries will soon attain the reliable, economical electricity service taken for granted in industrial nations is in doubt. World Bank support of electricity systems grew from $85 million annually in the mid-1950s to $271 million in the mid-1960s, $1400 million in the early 1970s, and $1800 million in the early 1980s. The Bank's support of electrtic power projects has leveled off in recent years and shrunk in proportional terms as lending expanded in other areas. The general trend is toward greater centralization and governmental control of electric power systems. Commercial banks and government supported lending institutions prefer to deal with a strong central authority that has government financial backing yet is outside the day-to-day political process. The World Bank files reveal a consistent push for greater centralization and consolidation of authority whenever questions of the structure of a power system arise. Over the years, the World Bank has gradually becomes stricter in the institutional preconditions it sets for power loans. By the early 1980s, 3rd world countries were using 6 times as much electric power as they had 20 years earlier but compared with industrial nations electricity plays a relatively small role in 3rd world economies. In most developing nations electricity consumption is so low and the potential future uses so great that electricity use continues to expand even when the economy does not. Meeting projected growth in the demand for electricity services will be virtually impossible without substantial efficiency improvements. The cornerstone of any new program is improve efficiency is a pricing system that reflects the true cost of providing power. Rather than a blanket cure for the problems of village life, rural electrification is simply a tool that is appropriate in some cases. Electric cooperatives offer an approach to rural electrification that has worked well in some countries.
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  10. 10
    030330

    Stopping population growth.

    Brown LR

    In: State of the world 1985. A Worldwatch Institute report on progress toward a sustainable society [by] Lester R. Brown, Edward C. Wolf, Linda Starke, William U. Chandler, Christopher Flavin, Sandra Postel, Cynthia Pollack. New York, New York, W.W. Norton, 1985. 200-21.

    The demographic contrasts of the 1980s are placing considerable stress on the international economic system and on national political structures. Runaway population growth is indirectly fueling the debt crisis by increasing the need for imported food and other basic commodities. Low fertility countries are food aid donors, and the higher fertility countries are the recipients. In most countries with high fertility, food production per person is either stagnant or declining. Population policy is becoming a priority of national governments and international development agencies. This discussion reviews what has happened since the UN's first World Population Conference in 1974 in Bucharest, fertility trends and projections, social influences on fertility, advances in contraceptive technology, and 2 major family planning gaps -- the gap between the demand for family planning services and their availability and the gap between the societal need to slow population growth quickly and the private interests of couples in doing so. The official purpose of the 1984 UN International Conference on Population convened in Mexico City, in which 149 countries participated, was to review the world population plan of action adopted at Bucharest. In Bucharest there had been a wide political schism between the representatives of industrial countries, who pushed for an increase in 3rd world family planning efforts, and those from developing countries, whose leaders argued that social and economic progress was the key to slowing population growth. In Mexico City this division had virtually disappeared. Many things had happened since Bucharest to foster the attitude change. The costly consequences of continuing rapid population growth that had seemed so theoretical in the 1974 debate were becoming increasingly real for many. World population in 1984 totaled 4.76 billion, an increase of some 81 million in 1 year. The population projections for the industrial countries and East Asia seem reasonable enough in terms of what local resource and life support systems can sustain, but those for much of the rest of the world do not. Most demographers are still projecting that world population will continue growing until it reaches some 10 billion, but that most of the 5.3 billion additional people will be concentrated in a few regions, principally the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. What demographers are projecting does not mesh with what ecologists or agronomists are reporting. In too many countries ecological deterioration is translating into economic decline which in turn leads to social disintegration. The social indicator that correlates most closely with declining fertility across the whole range of development is the education of women. Worldwide, sterilization protects more couples from unwanted pregnancy than any other practice. Oral contraceptives rank second. The rapid growth now confronting the world community argues for effective family planning programs.
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  11. 11
    030018

    The effects of population growth on renewable resources.

    Revelle R

    In: Population, resources, environment and development. Proceedings of the Expert Group on Population, Resources, Environment and Development, Geneva, 25-29 April 1983, [compiled by] United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. New York, New York, United Nations, 1984. 223-40. (Population Studies No. 90; ST/ESA/SER.A/90; International Conference on Population, 1984)

    Human beings have increased in numbers and in technological capability and consequently their impacts on their own evironment have become more pronounced. A clearcut example of the enviornmental effect of population growth is the increase of the area of agricultural lands during the last 120 years when the world's human population increased by more than 3-fold. Throughout most of this period, food yields per unit area of cultivated land changed very slowly, and growing populations could be fed only by plowing more land. Between 1860-1920 more than half of the increase in farmland occurred in the developed areas, and these regions also produced more than half of the worldwide growth in population. Population growth increased markedly between 1920-78, being between 4-5 times that in the previous 60 years. On a worldwide basis, and to a large extent within regions, the decrease in farm area per person as time passed reflected in part increases in crop yields per hectare resulting from advances in agricultural science and technology, and in part increases in irrigated areas which allowed the intensity of cultivation to increase as well as allowing growth in crop yeilds. During the last 10 years, the rate of increase of arable land for each additional person has markedly diminished, being only 0.06 hectares per person on a worldwide basis. From the data given by Richards, Olson, and Rotty, it is possible to compute the areas of different natural ecosystems cleared for agriculture between 1860 and 1978. On a worldwide basis, 7.6% of the total forest lands existing in 1860 had been converted to agriculture by 1978. Woodland, savanna, and grassland conversion amounted, respectively, to 7.9%, 6.1%, and 10% of the areas in these categories in 1860. About the same percentages of the areas of swamps and marshes in 1860 were drained for agriculture during the subsequent 118 years, but less than 1% of desert lands were brought under cultiviation. Considerations of the carrying capacity of the world's actual and potential agricultural lands are far less important than the social, economic, and political conditions which now keep so many of the world's population in poverty and malnutrition.
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  12. 12
    028858

    [Hunger and disease in less developed countries and en route to development (the Third World). Proposal for solutions] Hambre y enfermedades en los paises menos adelantados y en vias de desarrollo (Tercer Mundo). Propuesta de soluciones.

    Piedrola Gil G

    Anales de la Real Academia Nacional de Medicina. 1984; 101(1):39-96.

    The extent, causes, and possible solutions to problems of hunger, inequality, and disease in developing countries are discussed in this essay. Various frameworks and indicators have been proposed for identifying the poorest of nations; currently, 21 African, 9 Asian, and 1 American nation are regarded as the poorest of the poor. The 31 least developed countries, the 89 developing countries, and the 37 developed countries respectively have populations of 283 million, 3 billion; infant mortality rates of 160, 94, and 19/1000 live births; life expectancies of 45, 60, and 72 years; literacy rates of 28, 55, and 98%; per capita gross national products of $170, and $520, and $6230; and per capita public health expenditures of $1.70, $6.50, and $244. Developing countries in the year 2000 are expected to have 4.87 billion of the world's 6.2 billion inhabitants. The 3rd world contains 70% of the world's population but receives only 17% of world income. 40 million persons die of hunger or its consequences each year. Economic and social development is the only solution to problems of poverty and underdevelopment, and will require mobilization of all present and future human and material resources to achieve maximum possible wellbeing for each human being. Among principal causes of underdevelopment in the 3rd World are drought, illness, exile, socioeconomic disorder, war, and arms expenditures. Current food production and a long list of possible new technologies would be adequate to feed the world's population, but poor distribution condemns the world's people to hunger. Numerous UN agencies, organizations, and programs are dedicated to solving the problems of hunger, underdevelopment, and disease. In 1982, 600 billion dollars were spent in armanents, of $112 for each of the world's inhabitants; diversion of these resources to development goals would go a long way toward solving the problem of underdevelopment. The main problem is not lack of resources, but the need to establish a new and more just economic and distributive order along with genuine solidarity in the struggle against underdevelopment. Several steps should be taken: agricultural production should be increased with the full participation of the developng nations; the industrialized or petroleum-producing nations should aid the poor states with at least .7% and up to 5% of their gross national products for the struggle against drought, disease, illiteracy, and for the green revolution and new agropastoral technologies; prices paid to poor countries for raw materials should be fair; responsible parenthood, education, women's rights, clean drinking water, environmental sanitation and primary health care should be promoted; the arms race should be halted, and the North-South dialogue should be pursued in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.
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  13. 13
    267814

    Population, resources, environment and development.

    United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs

    New York, New York, United Nations, 1984. ix, 534 p. (International Conference on Population, 1984; Statements ST/ESA/SER.A/90)

    Contained in this volume are the report (Part I) and the selected papers (Part II) of the Expert Group on Population, Resources, Environment and Development which review past trends and their likely future course in each of the 4 areas, taking into account not only evolving concepts but also the need to consider population, resources, environment and development as a unified structure. Trends noted in the population factor include world population growth and the differences between rates in the developed and developing countries; the decline in the proportion of the population who are very young and the concomitant increase in the average age of the population. Discussed within the resource factor are the labor force, the problem of increasing capital shortage, expenditures on armaments, trends in the supply and productivity of arable land, erosion and degradation of topsoil and energy sources. Many of the problems identified overlap with the environment factor, which centers on the problem of pollution. The group on the development factor was influenced by a pervasiv sense of "crisis" in current economic trends. Concern was also expressed regarding the qualitative aspects of current development trends, defined as the perverse effects of having adopted inappropriate styles of development. Part II begins with a general overview of recent levels and trends in the 4 areas along with the concepts of carrying capacity and optimum population. Other papers discuss the impact of trends in resources, environment and development on demographic prospects; long-term effects of global population growth on the international system; economic considerations in the choice of alternative paths to a stationary population and the need for integration of demographic factors in development planning. The various papers on the resources and environment factor focus on resources as a barrier to population growth; the effects of population growth on renewable resources; food production and population growth in Africa; the frailty of the balance between the 4 areas and the need for a holistic approach on a scale useful for regional planning. Also addressed are: social development; population and international economic relations; development, lifestyles, population and environment in Latin America; issues of population growth, inequality and poverty; health, population and development trends; education requirements and trends in female literacy; the challenge posed by the aging of populations; and population and development in the ECE region.
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  14. 14
    028095

    Perspectives on the international relations of food.

    Hopkins RF; Puchala DJ

    In: Ghosh PK, ed. Health, food and nutrition in Third World development. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1984. 87-124. (International Development Resource Books No. 6)

    The global food problem is delineated, and a set of concepts for analyzing the world food system is provided and used to critically examine the food system. The global food problem consists of an interrelated set of elements which affect countries differently. These elements are 1) the food shortage threat; 2) instability in the food supply stemming from price fluctuations, unpredictable markets, and an undependable trade flow; 3) an unpredictable supply of food for importation; 4) low agricultural production in developing countries; and 5) malnutrition. The global food system consists of production centers, consumption centers, and distribution channels. Conditions that characterize the system are the result of regimes, i.e., the rules and norms which control the system at any particular point in time. A regime can be identified by 1) observing transaction flows, the allocation of resources, and food diplomacy patterns; 2) by examining the agendas of food issue forums; and 3) by listening to the arguments used to bolster or criticize specific food policies. The global food system created by the current regime, which has been in existence since the 1940s, is a system which divides the countries of the world into surplus and deficit countries and has 2 distributional channels. These channels are 1) commercial sellers and buyers and 2) concessionally linked donors and recipients. The regime which created this system was imposed primarily by the US government. The regime is characterized by 1) a belief in the free market system, 2) a willing to provide famine relief but a refusal to address the chronic malnutrition problem, 3) the conditional acceptance of the distribution of food, in the form of food aid, outside the market system; 4) the promotion of the flow of technological information; 5) respect for national sovereignty, which has the effect of preventing aid from reaching the poorest segments of the population of developing countries; 6) assignment of a low priority to the development of self-reliance in developing countries; and 7) a willingness to accumulate a grain surplus for distribution to countries with shortfalls. The activities of multinational agribusiness tend to reinforce and support this regime. The international food network, consisting largely of UN agencies, can modify the food regime by 1) encouraging governments to confront critical food issues, 2) collecting and disseminating information about the food problem, 3) providing services which governments are unable to perform because of political considerations; and 4) legitimize policies via multilateral sanction. The system supported by the present regime promotes the exploitation of the poor by the wealthy and ignores the need for distributive justice. There are some indications that a new regime is in the process of being developed as evidenced by the new international economic order.
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