North-South inequity and global environmental governance

Authored by: Chukwumerije Okereke

Routledge Handbook of Global Sustainability Governance

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138048287
eBook ISBN: 9781315170237
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reviews the critical challenges in the governance of global sustainability that are associated with North-South inequity. It argues that these are probably the most prominent and acute sets of problems that have faced the global governance of environmental change. The chapter demonstrates that from the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) – when sustainability was first introduced as a focus for international governance – to the present day, every significant environmental summit, multilateral agreement, or global environmental institution has been severely challenged by issues related to North-South inequity and justice. The chapter outlines some of the core issues and describes the impact these have had on mainstreaming global environmental sustainability governance, with the primary focus on key global environmental summits and the multilateral agreements they have created. In the end the chapter puts forward an argument for the urgent need to redress imbalances between the developed countries of the North and the developing countries of the South in relation to global environmental challenges. The chapter makes clear that the North will need to cede ground and change the structures of governance if progress is to be made, both in equality with the South, and in solving our shared global environmental and development problems.

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