Mining: A Questionable Development Strategy
Given the risks associated with locating large-scale mining projects amid the natural hazards present in the Philippines, and the reluctance of many members of that archipelago's civil society to accept technological solutions to these risks, one may wonder whether a mining-based development paradigm is an appropriate approach to be followed. Will mining-related environmental disruptions brought on by the interactions of mining's environmental effects and the natural hazards present in the Philippines only serve to disrupt the ecology of the poor and end up impoverishing vulnerable communities adjacent to mining operations? Alternatively, will mining act as an engine of economic growth and generate so much prosperity that whatever instances of environmental disruption may occur can easily be compensated for by the subsequent rising tide of prosperity that “lifts all boats?”
The Twin Pillars of Sustainable Development
In addressing the efficacy of any development strategy, the concept of sustainable development is a useful metric. In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined the now ubiquitous term “sustainable development” as being “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987, 43). However, this definition may only be viewed as a starting point in discussions of sustainable development because much of this discussion directs its attention not on the negative consequences of economic growth upon the environment, but on the negative consequences of environmental degradation upon economic growth (Holden 2009b).