73 Ecological Balance in an Era of Globalization

Vandana Shiva

In 1992, the Earth Summit in Rio marked the maturing of ecological awareness on a global scale. The world was poised to make a shift to sustainability. However, the Rio process and the sustainability agenda were subverted by the free-trade agenda. In 1993, the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was completed, in 1995 the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established, and world affairs grew increasingly dictated by trade and commerce. The normative political commitment to sustainability and justice was replaced by the rule of trade and the elevation of exploitation, greed, and profit maximization as the organizing principles of the market, the state, and society. Instead of the state regulating the market for the good of society, global economic powers and commercial forces are now regulating the state and society for the benefit of corporations. Instead of commerce being accountable to state and society, economic globalization is making citizens and their governments accountable to corporations and global economic bodies.

Economic globalization is not merely an economic phenomenon related to reduction of tariff barriers and removal of “protectionist” policies. It is in fact a normative process that reduces all value by commercial value. Free trade is, in reality, the rule of commerce. Both GATT and WTO basically undo the Rio agenda. Five years after Rio, we do not have Rio plus ...

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