Policy Analysis

Is Green Great?: Balancing the Demands of Environmental Protection and Human Needs

By Oli Brown on May 1, 2008
While many in the international community view development as a fundamental pillar to promoting human security, development may come with significant costs—environmental degradation among the most concerning. Do eco-sensitive practices promote environmental protection at the expense of individual well-being in developing countries?

As a participant in the 46th International Affairs Symposium at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, Oli Brown sought to answer this question.

The session was a debate format with two speakers taking opposing sides of an issue, giving a 20-minute presentation each and then continuing the discussion in a question-and-answer session. Oli Brown's opponent was Paul Driessen.

Driessen is a senior policy adviser for the Congress of Racial Equality. A climate change skeptic and critic of the theory and practice of sustainable development, he used his presentation to suggest that western environmentalists have become "eco-imperialists" blindly imposing their own environmental standards on the rest of the world. He argued that western-imposed ideas of environmental protection have been bad for development by inter alia: banning DDT and so undermining the fight against malaria; inhibiting the capacity of the developing world to utilize their own cheap sources of energy; blocking the extension of biotechnology and so undermining food security; using the precautionary principle to halt the spread of new technology; and encouraging the spread of organic farming incapable of producing enough food to feed the world.

This IISD Commentary is an adaptation of Brown's response to Driessen's remarks at the symposium, organized by students of the Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon.