Chapter 7 - The Sociology of Sustainable Development

100 structural adjustment policies in particular

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Unformatted text preview: uce social spending. Environmental protection and other pro-sustainable development actions have been squeezed out of Ecuador’s economic equation. The funding for Ecuador’s protected areas (including national parks), for example, has been limited. The options of Ecuador’s government, to preserve or exploit, in the face of immediate problems to service the debt, led them down the path of exploitation. Ecuador’s three biggest foreign exchange earners—oil, bananas, and shrimp—are all clearly linked to land degradation and resource depletion. Oil extraction has been the most obviously troublesome. Petroleum’s negative environmental effects on the Amazon have been well documented by both the state’s own environmental agency and the World Bank. The photo in Figure 7.5, from Ecuador’s capital, Quito, illustrates the dismay of many Ecuadorians in regard to oil exploitation. Debt exacerbated Ecuador’s environmental problems of polluted land, air, and fish kills, and indigenous people have suffered from negative health effects.99 Similar processes and results of the debt cycle—high debt, structural adjustment, and environmental and social degradation—occur in other regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa.100 Structural adjustment policies, in particular, receive much criticism. Ted Lewellen summarizes critics’ concerns. “In essence, the debt crisis has given the United States—through the [International Monetary Fund]—the power to impose its particular philosophy of growth on much of the Third World. . . . The focus of conditionality is on the economic policies of individual countries, with little recognition of the need for structural adjustments at the international level.”101 In sum, the development system does not serve the poor, the system serves nations at the top of the economic hierarchy. Some interventions are being established to slow the growth of debt and to reduce the total debt loads of the poorest nations. Many governments in the LDC and nongover...
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