THE NATURE OF DEVELOPMENT: A Report from the Rural Tropics on the Quest for Sustainable Economic Growth by Roger D. Stone

THE NATURE OF DEVELOPMENT: A Report from the Rural Tropics on the Quest for Sustainable Economic Growth

Email this review


Stone (a consultant on environmental issues at the Council on Foreign Relations) explicates sustainable growth, a ""hot topic"" in relations between rich and poor nations. According to the author, ""while environmental degradation in the industrial world results from affluence and neglect, in developing countries the principal culprit is poverty."" So Stone's prescription for defending the environment in poor areas calls for involving local people in environmentally benign economic development that will keep them from having to destroy the land in order to survive. After presenting a brief history of the European impact on the ecologies of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Stone documents the growing worldwide support for sustainable development, initially among First World government and conservation organizations (like the World Wildlife Fund, where he is a senior fellow), then among the poor, who rapidly take to the concept when they see its benefits. The author's accounts of visits to various development sites mix crisp descriptions (particularly of local political situations) with seemingly irrelevant details (like that of the French woman who showed him to his rental car). Although clearly hailing from the liberal-environmentalist wing of the development aid community, Stone represents all sides fairly in dealing with private and public initiatives, and his comments will be particularly useful for First World environmentalists trying to understand why their counterparts in poor countries often resist their best-intentioned efforts. Though Stone sometimes seems to prefer quick judgment to deep analysis, he presents a compelling picture of a major shift in worldview among development agencies and their clients, one that may result in a healthier planet.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Knopf