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Environmental Economics

Sustainable Development. Constraints and Opportunities by Mostafa Kamal Tolba

By Mostafa Kamal Tolba

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7 Rolling back the wasteland Lecture to the India Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development New Delhi, India, December 1982 There need be no such thing as a wasteland or waste of any kind. In this new society for Promotion of Wastelands Development, and thousands more environment citizen action groups around the world, I see a developing conviction to tackle the global problem of environmental degradation; a new determination to confront the futile and avoidable wastage of resources. However, we must recognize that, in a sense, the existence of this Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development and similar groups are a clear indication that we are not yet on the right track.

Rolling back the wasteland 37 In UNEP we have no patience with the argument that the money is not available to apply the World Conservation Strategy, the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, the World Soils Programme, the clean water and sanitation strategies and so on. Even a small part of the US$1400 million the world spends each day on arms or the US$200 million on cigarettes would be enough to make the goal of sustainable development a reality. Arms spending buys only the illusion of security - the only real guarantee of lasting peace is sustainable and equitable economic growth.

5 billion people in the developing world depend on wood for their domestic energy requirements. In Africa south of the Sahara, 60-65% of all energy needs are still met by firewood and charcoal. Annual removal for fuelwood is reckoned to be more than 700 million cubic metres in Asia and more than 200 million cubic metres in Tropical America, and there is no prospect in the foreseeable future of a slackening in demand. In central Tanzania and the uplands of Nepal, recent studies indicate that it now requires 250-300 man-days of work to provide the annual fuelwood requirements of a household of five persons.

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