n Journal of Public Administration - Discourses of climate change and sustainable development in the third world countries : for who's benefit is it?

Volume 49, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The emergence of climate change in recent years is seen as an extension to the continuous focus on sustainable development, whose governance created ideological contestations about the relevance and irrelevance for developing and developed nations. When sustainable development was codified at the Stockholm conference in 1972, the underlying complexities and contradictions surrounding it created contestations, controversies and mistrust among first and third world countries. Developed countries expressed dire need to conserve and preserve natural resources for the future generations; whereas, developing countries emphasised the need to maximise socio-economic emancipation through exploitation of the environment as a resource-base for development in order to address the multiple prospects of poverty affecting the majority of their citizens. Currently, climate change which is thought to be influenced by concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through, for example industrialisation, threatens the development of socio-economic and agricultural activities of most nations. However, the governance efforts through, among others, the Kyoto Protocol and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) have yielded negligible progress. Instead, developed countries have continued emitting according to unchanged patterns of their unfettered consumerism and production while imposing limitations on developing countries' access to environmental resources. At best, this ambivalent and ambiguous governance of the hegemonic discourse of climate change and sustainable development is solipsistic.

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