Ethics & International Affairs Volume 4 (1990): Articles: Debt and Wrong-Way Resource Flows in Costa Rica [Abstract]

Dec 2, 1990

External debt, poverty, and the use of natural resources are inextricably linked. This article examines an ethical aspect of that linkage: the social direction of resource flow. It argues that the direction in which a country's economic resources are transferred-from poor to rich, or rich to poor-also sets the pattern for the flow of natural resources. By extension, the same kinds of forces that tend to impoverish human environments also tend to impoverish the physical environment; and conversely, that which tends to restore or promote equity generally tends to be good for the environment. For the past forty years, Costa Rican government policies have been among the fairest and most environmentally progressive in the Third World; yet Costa Rica is heavily in debt in both the economic and environmental sense. Are the"right" policies not right-or are they morally right but not workable? Annis examines this paradoxical question using the notion of "dual debt" and "wrong-way resource flows."

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