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Global Resource Consumption, Environmental Space and Ecological Structural Change: Implications for Sustainable Development from the Perspective of North-South Relations

IJED, Vol. 3 No. 2, (2001)

This article aims at contributing to the recent debate on structural change with ecological orientation, assuming a perspective from sustainable development in the South. It starts from reviewing the issues of national innovation systems, social learning, socioeconomic equity, political institutions and the societal transformation from Fordism to an emerging post-fordist regime, within the context of current globalization. Subsequently, the environmental dimension of the global process of uneven development, i.e. the physically unsustainable scale and socially unequal appropriation of material flows, is assessed by recurring to the concept of environmental utilization space. Based on this, some ecological features of the structural change related to post-fordist globalization and its expected main consequences for the North-South-relationships are discussed. Addressing the mentioned structural change, the analysis is focused on the strategic guideline of dematerialization as the normative orientation of an overall eco-efficiency and sufficiency in economy and environment at global and national level. This leads to the assessment of the challenges for a proactive policy of an ecological structural change (ESC) in the South by means of an agenda for future research. Finally, main conclusions are derived with the purpose to clarify some elements for the debate on sustainable development, which are considered as essentials for both development theory and ecological-economic policy of structural change.

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