update: NewBooksInHistory podcast reviews a book about the history of the idea of "sustainability".
Macekura, who is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at Indiana University, demonstrates how environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attempted to promote environmental protection in the post-colonial world, then, after failing to do so, challenged the economic development approaches of the United States, World Bank, and United Nations. The book reveals how environmental activists initially conceived of "sustainable development" as a way to link environmental protection with Third World concerns about equality and justice in the global economy, but how, over time, the phrase's meaning moved far away from this initial conception.
Mentioning that activists, not grass roots, are behind all of this makes one think of conspiracy theories and Kiplings' "the White Man's Burden".
But actually, when one sees such terrible poverty, one just tries to help things out. This is not just true for environmental activists, but also for missionaries (who in Africa started most of the first hospitals and schools), health care workers, agricultural specialists, and of course, communist inspired groups.
So leave everyone alone, say some conservatives.
Uh, that didn't work in the Irish potato famine did it?
I'm almost finished this book about the Philippines during Spanish colonialism and the American "liberation". I read it via Scribd. Depressing to read, but a lot of those diseases are similar to what I saw during my time in Africa in the 1970's...