Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion had a profound impact on our thinking about global poverty. Now, with The Plundered Planet, he has set himself an even more ambitious goal: to reconcile the immediate needs of the world's burgeoning population with a sustainable environmental future.
Is it possible to continue to feed and clothe ourselves without despoiling the planet for future generations? Can the poorest nations harness the economic opportunities that natural resources provide for long-term economic growth? How does our treatment of agriculture and fisheries need to change? Is there a fair and effective way to deal with the world's carbon emissions? What kind of framework do we need to deal with all these issues?
The world's response to these questions has, to date, been incredibly unimpressive. Collier shows how the extreme and contrasting impulses of unchecked profiteering - by individuals, corporations and governments - and backward-looking environmental romanticism have so far thwarted any constructive
cooperation. Here he provides an ethical framework on which to agree future policy. And, based on his own ground-breaking research into these issues, he offers realistic and sustainable solutions. The chains of decision-making required are subtle and fragile but, as he argues persuasively, these are policies that governments and corporations around the world urgently need to adopt. Collier demonstrates, above all else, that our economic and environmental interests are not in fact competing; they are mutually dependent and we we will not be able to survive unless we reconcile them now.
The Plundered Planet represents a paradigm-changing intervention and should be essential reading
for anyone concerned about our future on this planet.