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The challenges for environment and development economics

  • Edward B. Barbier (a1)


I consider that the field of environment and development economics (EDE) began with the publication of The Control of Resources by Partha Dasgupta (1982). Although he did not confine his focus to developing countries, Dasgupta (1982: 10) suggested that managing environmental resources was much broader than conventional resource stock depletion or pollution control:

To sum up: environmental discussions need to be conducted in the face of a clear recognition that, (a) these resource are often common property, (b) resolutions of environmental problems usually involve changes in the allocation of property rights, (c) resource use may well be irreversible (e.g. it may lead to their exhaustion when in fact this could have been avoided), (d) resource stocks often affect welfare directly, (e) the environmental impact of certain types of activity are cumulative and only become noticeable at some time in the future, and (f) the environmental impact of certain types of activity are uncertain. It is no wonder that environmental problems are formidable to analyse, let alone solve.



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Barbier, E.B. (1989), Economics, Natural Resource Scarcity and Development: Conventional and Alternative Views, London: Earthscan Publications.
Barbier, E.B. (2005), Natural Resources and Economic Development, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Barbier, E.B. (2010) ‘Poverty, development and environment’, Environment and Development Economics 15: 635660.
Barbier, E.B. (2011), Scarcity and Frontiers: How Economies Have Developed Through Natural Resource Exploitation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dasgupta, P. (1982), The Control of Resources, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
David, P.A. and Wright, G. (1997), ‘Increasing returns and the genesis of American resource abundance’, Industrial and Corporate Change 6: 203245.
MEA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment) (2005), Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Current State and Trends, Washington, DC: Island Press.
van der Ploeg, F. (2011), ‘Natural resources: curse or blessing?’, Journal of Economic Literature 49: 366420.

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The challenges for environment and development economics

  • Edward B. Barbier (a1)


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