back to chapter index   download pdf


At the UN’s World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002, there will doubtless be formal declarations of sustainable intent by governments and corporations, some new international institutions may be created or old ones reformed, some new money may even be promised from the world’s richer countries to the poorer. Meanwhile the values of global capital are so entrenched in the international institutional eco-system that the worlds most likely to be saved at such a meeting are those understood and valued by its managing, advisory – and beneficiary – elites: people for many of whom ‘the environment is not what is around their homes, but what is around their economies’ (Lohmann, 1993).

The lifestyles and values of the elites that Maurice Strong works with may be on the same planet as the places and communities affected by their decisions, but for most of those who lose immediate land and livelihood to ever more mobile and extractive capital, they (and I: warm and well-fed as I work at a computer in London, England) are a world away. And for all the power and ambition in the hands of global elites, any reforms which do not start from the needs and knowledge of people suffering now from unsustainable and unjust developments, can hardly hope to save their world for them.

But before exploring the GEF’s real world potential and limitations, the following chapter turns to the situation giving rise to this unique fund in the first place.

21'The EU: Protecting Whose Environment?' Nicholas Hildyard at the Conference of Socialist Economists, London, 6 June 1998.