Globalization And Sustainability

     The world was once vast and unknown. Communication was once dreaded as messages
would take exceeded amounts of time from one point of destination to the next.

Countries would not know of each other’s affairs for months because the world
was large beyond anyone’s imagination. But as soon as technology reared its
head the world rapidly became smaller. It modified everything within its grasp.

Communication that once took months could now take seconds. Travelling abroad
that would have taken years now took hours. Every institution that fell into
this form of globalisation changed. It is obvious to see that governments have
also been effected by globalisation in such ways that they can either imitate or
contrast with each other. Yet a controversy exists about the issue on the effect
of globalisation on governmental power. On one side of the argument
globalisation is considered as a force that weakens the power of government
whereas others debate the contrary, claiming that there is no effect and power
remains constant. Still both arguments fail because of the extremity that they
impose. A better argument would be that globalisation does effect government
power, not to the point of weakening, but ensuring that no abuse of power occurs
unknowingly. Globalisation is simply a tool that enables the actions of
governments to be monitored by other countries and world organisations. With
comparison of Australian and Canadian environmental policy, it will be clear
that actions taken by the government have been influenced (not controlled) by
globalisation. The idea of the world becoming a small interactive village is
what many would consider the effect of globalisation. Boundaries are no longer
an issue and can be crossed with an easy click of the mouse. But globalisation
is far from being a new concept that came along with technology. It has existed
since humans have had curiosity. The exploring of new lands, the discovery of
new peoples and nations, to the fascination of nature’s physical features,
people have been in the process of globalisation for centuries. Technology had
simply allowed globalisation to progress a little more rapidly than what it had
accomplished in the past. Although it seems that globalisation brings promise of
a unified Utopian society this is far from becoming the truth. Today’s world
is based on the market. The selling of goods and services to the consumer to
gain profit. Therefore globalisation has become the expansion of the market
place with greater opportunities for production and trade in new locations.1

Relations are established between nations, not for the mere satisfaction of
peace, but for the insurance that a trading partner exists where profit can be
gained. This motivation from profit leads to the element of the manufacturing
process. In order to achieve maximum profit corporations need to spend less in
producing a product. They go about this through means of cheap energy fuel
(usually fossil fuels like coal), low labour wages, and cutting costs in waste
disposal. For an exceeded amount of time corporations have been able to escape
the clutches of the law because it was seen that damage to the environment was a
small price to pay in exchange for high profits. For instance abuse to the

Canadian forests in the past two centuries has led to a large proportion of it
being cut, 8 000 kilometres long and hundreds of kilometres wide.2 When large
damage has been inflicted only then will people’s concerns be aroused.

Governments then needed to intervene, to steer corporations from inflicting
anymore damage to resources and environment. Canadian government had only made
environmental policy a main concern since 1985. It was in the Ontario provincial
election where pollution was made a significant issue. This was the first time
ever that the issue of pollution was made a priority. Ever since the topic of
concern for pollution has been maintained by both provincial and federal
institutions.3 Australia on the other hand began its involvement on the issue in

1980. It was in this year that the World Conservation Strategy was published and
the country took it upon itself to formulate a similar document that would help
enforce the idea of sustainable environment throughout the nation.4 Although
government intervention seems to guarantee some progress towards sustainability
the idea of globalisation alters the desired effects. World trade allows the
cheapest producer to gain maximum profits. Competition for profits is then
always present. In order for competition to exist all producers must somehow
keep product costs low while maintaining or increasing product output. If
legislation is passed within a country that holds a corporation responsible for
destruction to the environment by means of their waste, corporations can still
outrun any consequences from their actions. It is difficult to prosecute
institutions because they are essential.5 They provide jobs, goods and services,
and distribute money towards many organisations. The industry allows economy to
prosper as well as many citizens that partake in the production and consumption
of the goods. The destruction of the environment is seen as irrelevant to the
benefits of cash profit that the industry brings. What corporations fail to
observe is the future outlook. The concern is only on maximum exploitation for
maximum gain. No corporation has interest in conservation because of the
mentality of whatever is left by a corporation will simply be used by a
competitor.6 Yet the immediate gains will not always be present because sooner
or later resources will be exhausted and there will then be a failure to
produce, soon followed by a collapse within the industry production and profit.

Sustainability will ensure that resources can be reserved as well as allowing
time for some replenishment. It is for this reason that governments have decided
to be involved, for a fall in industry would lead to a fall in the economy and
the welfare of the state. Canada and Australia share the same vision when it
comes to sustainability. Both understand that environmental policy is essential
to maintain a prosperous nation. There has been a similar vision on the purpose
of developing environmental policy. The development is to allow (i) multiple
times scales in which the present is considered as well as the near and farther
future; (ii) effect on various dimensions of social life where economy,
environment, and social equity are viewed as equal; and (iii) diverse social and
ecological scales where region and locality are a concern as well as the global
nation.7 All three aspects are to produce an ecologically balanced society, with
stable institutions designed to assure equilibrium within tolerances that the
natural environment can support.8 This is much easier said than done. The event
of there being total agreement is never achieved and compromising always leads
to one or all parties involved to be unsatisfied. In order to satisfy government
policy, as well as avoid negative outbreaks by environmental conscience
citizens, corporations need to follow the specified guidelines of environmental
sustainability. Institutions then need to pay much more attention and effort
towards waste elimination and treatment. This costs a substantial amount of
money. Two options are to either increase product prices or cut spending on
other operations within the process. Increasing prices would allow costs to be
covered and avoid in any profit loss experienced by the corporation but high
prices could cause for decrease in profit for it causes a decrease in profits by
the lower prices This again is a of current competitors. This is the reason why
the second option is more favourable. Cutting costs in the operation allows for
the same amount to be spent on production and in some instances even less. Most
popular method of cutting is within the removal of management layers. By
eliminating certain amounts of staff and replacing them with computers and
automation manufacturing processes companies can then compete in the world
market.9 This occurs mostly in wealthy nations such as Canada, Australia,

England, and the United States. Since poor nations have no strict policies on
labour leading to low wage structures, production by corporations within these
nations can produce product cheaply and sell at an admirably low price.10 Since
wealthy nations have high labour costs, expensive social programs, and a high
degree of foreign investment, in order to compete in the world market they
choose to employ less.11 It seems to be a simple enough tactic but other
corporations have been so used to a certain process of production that instead
of changing their methods they would rather relocate to poorer nations in which
they could keep profits or exceed them tenfold. Globalisation leads to the
reallocation of corporations. In less hostile environments, these corporate
conglomerates can destroy and manipulate the environment to their pleasing and
will not be accused for they supply many jobs in a poor nation that needs income
to fuel its economy. This global mobility allows corporations to escape
environmental policy. The acceleration of jobless growth in poor nations leads
to unemployment, creating pressures that allow economic activity that is
destructive as well as it undermines efforts of mitigation, planning, and
regulatory enforcement.12 Environmental policy with absence of enforcement leads
to the lack of interest in enforcement. The NAFTA agreement, the elimination of
tariffs among trading countries, between the United States, Canada, and the
developing Mexico is a good example of how businesses escape strict policy.

Because of Mexico’s low wage enforcement and anti-union government,
environmental policy falls prey to lower standards and enforcement.13 The nation
really does feel opposed to the destruction but if they fail to allow industries
to do so they will lose business to global mobility. The problem is does not lie
on government passing legislation for policies have been made. The problem lies
within the amount of enforcement that is dedicated on ensuring that the policies
are practised to the full extent. Not every country has the same view when
enforcement of policy is the issue. Some nations are better off than others so
it is easier for them to proceed with strict enforcement but Third World
countries, in order to compete in the world market, are more lenient because of
the need to better establish a prosperous economy. This is a main concern among
many because the problem is never fully solved but simply reallocated. This is
when international policy becomes a suggested solution. Governments need to
strike a common chord with each other when it comes to environmental
sustainability. It needs to be seen that if restrictions are present and
enforced equally throughout all nations then the concept of conservation will be
spread throughout globally. In order for this to succeed a new flow of financing
and technology for environmental conservation needs to be achieved.14 Third

World nations would also not feel the pressure to exploit for maximum profit if
debts were alleviated and industrial countries initiated programs to provide
access to technical assistance, training technology transfer, and planning
grants to increase their capacity to manage environmental and energy
challenges.15 Through this method it would allow nations to stand on equal
ground and be able to maintain a harmony between nature and industry. This is a
fantasy to be achieved for the motive of wealth is always the motivation that
leads to the neglecting of policies. The proposal of a world government is an
idea that could ensure that a universal policy be followed by all countries and
ensure that enforcement be weighted equally among all nations. A world
government generates both relief and fear when it boils down to policy making.

The relief comes that all nations are treated equally and must follow all laws
that have been passed by this supreme institution. Yet, not all nations are
equal even though the idea of it sounds appealing. Some nations are better off
than others are so it is difficult for everyone to participate fully when some
nations can achieve goals easier than others can. The main fear springs from the
idea of losing identity and power. A single government representing the world of
many different cultures and beliefs is very hard to imagine. Minorities might
feel threatened in that they have no legitimate say in the outcomes of producing
legislation. This in turn leads to the representation of governments in
countries. They would feel threatened in the sense that they truly have no power
since the world government would be the one in control of matters of all
countries globally. So, what needs to be done is not the production of a world
government but an alliance between world organisations and existing governments.

Globalisation through this method does not infringe on the power of government
but allows for compromise to occur and for then to understand the need for a
unified co-operation to maintain the environment and resources for future
enjoyment and use. In Australia for instance, the Confederation of Australian

Industry and the Australian Conservation Foundation, along side with a number of
state governments, agreed to endorse the National Conservation Strategy for

Australia in 1986.16 This promoted the need to save the environment and
ecological beauty of Australia for there was a realisation that damage to the
environment would lead to damage to the economy. The concern was in tourism. The
natural environment is a critically important part of tourism and is
increasingly being recognised as such through the term "Ecotourism".17

Through globalisation and government assistance it is possible to see the
importance of conservation which in turn would set precedence for other
countries to follow. This was the main intention by the Australian Tourism

Industry Association who argued that tourism can and does (i) enhance
environmental appreciation by changing people’s attitudes; (ii) act as a
justification for environmental conservation; (iii) enhance environmental
management for conservation; and (iv) enrich the social and cultural environment
of the Australian community.18 A global government may have a unilateral
authority and may think broadly but it can not possibly reach out to
everyone’s interests in the decision making.19 Mutual adjustment is the best
method to solving the environmental problem by the use of global co-ordination.

When this occurs it produces policies and plans that take account many positions
that exist. A country’s own government needs to be aware of the essential
needs of its people and must respond to the concerns of various authorities of
energy, roads and highways, land use, city planning, air and rail transport, and
industrial policy.20 These needs then need to co-relate with those needs
presented by organisations that stand for the protection of the planets
resources and environment. Governments have not lost power but need to re-learn
how to distribute their influence. Both the federal and provincial governments,
at least in Canada, hold the distribution of authority over environmental
policy. The municipal governments still participate even though they have been
given no authority over the matter.21 But the majority of the work is achieved
by organisations that press governments for swifter actions towards policy
making. In Canada, the Greenpeace group, located in Vancouver and Toronto, had a
revenue of 7.4 million dollars without government or corporal aid from 1987 to

1990.22 The source of revenue came from concerned individuals within the country
who see the needed value of conserving the planet. In response, political
parties must address these issues to ensure that the public receives the results
that they desire. When the creation of the National Conservation Strategy in

Australia took place both the Fraser Liberal government and the Hawke Labour
government played an important role in the structure that the policy was
comprised of.23 Through globalisation the world can look upon itself and see
that there are better methods of approaching problems. Profit can not constantly
exist if there is no planet to work from. The governments see this and pressure
each other to abide by a universal understanding that there is a great need for
sustainability. Powers are not decreased or removed but simply placed into a
different context where instead of the individual gain the overall gain should
have more precedence. Both Canada and Australia have set example that industry
and environment can exist together and it is the governments duty to ensure that
guidelines are set to allow enforcement take place. Globalisation can help
environmental policy only if other countries have full understanding of the
benefits and participate with means of improvement. The poorer nations need to
be guided by the wealthy to prevent any further destruction on the remaining
resources that the planet contains. Global understanding and consensus will
allow for countries to maintain their distinctiveness but allow for one common
trait to exist, a total appreciation of the shared home we call earth.


1. Melody Hessing and Michael Howlett, Canadian Natural Resource and

Environmental Policy: Political Economy and Public Policy (University of British

Columbia Press, 1997), 243. 2. Robert Paehlke, "Green Politics and the Rise of
the Environmental Movement," edited. Thomas Fleming, The Environment and

Canadian Society (International Thomas Publishing, 1997), 270. 3. Doug

Macdonald, The Politics of Pollution (McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1991), 56.

4. D. McEachern, "Environmental Policy in Australia 1981-91: A Form of

Corporatism?," Australian Journal of Public Administration Vol. 52 No. 2, June

1993, 175. 5. Robert Paehlke, 270. 6. James Meadowcraft, "Planning for

Sustainable Development: What can be Learned From the Critics," edited.

Michael Kenning and James Meadowcraft, Planning Sustainability (Routledge,

1999), 25. 7. Ibid., 35. 8. Ibid. 9. Robert Paehlke, 271. 10. Ibid. 11. Melody

Hessing, 243. 12. Robert Paehlke, 270. 13. Ibid. 14. James Gustave Speth,

"International Policies Will Conserve Global Resources," edited. Matthew

Polesetsky, Global Resources: Opposing Viewpoints (Greenhaven Press, Inc.,

1991), 239. 15. Ibid., 240. 16. D. McEachern, 175. 17. Richard Bramley, "The

Management of Natural Tourism Resources," edited. Richard Cordew, Australian

Planner Vol. 31-32 1993-95 (Royal Australian Planning Institute, 1995), 40. 18.

Ibid. 19. Charles E. Lindblom, "A Century of Planning," edited. Michael

Kenny and James Meadowcraft, Planning Sustainability (Routledge, 1999), 62. 20.

Ibid., 63. 21. Doug Macdonald, 51. 22. Ibid., 44. 23. D. McEachern, 181.

Bibliography Bramley, Richard. "The Management of Natural Tourism

Resources." Edited by Richard Cordew. Australian Planner Vol. 31-32 1993-95:
(40-44). Royal Australian Planning Institute, 1995. Hessing, Melody and Michael

Howlett. Canadian Natural Resource and Environmental Policy: Political Economy
and Public Policy. University of British Columbia Press, 1997. Lindblom, Charles

E. "A Century of Planning." Edited by Michael Kenny and James Meadowcraft.

Planning Sustainability. Routledge, 1999. Macdonald, Doug. The Politics of

Pollution. McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1991. McEachern, D. "Environmental

Policy in Australia 1981-91: A Form of Corporatism?," Australian Journal of

Public Administration Vol. 52 No. 2: (173-185). 1993. Meadowcraft, James.

"Planning for Sustainable Development: What can be Learned From the

Critics." Edited by Michael Kenning and James Meadowcraft. Planning

Sustainability. Routledge, 1999. Paehlke, Robert. "Green Politics and the Rise
of the Environmental Movement." Edited by Thomas Fleming. The Environment and

Canadian Society.