You cannot understand the environmental problems of the developing world without looking at the relationships between developing countries and the rich world. To solve these problems you have to make a drastic change in these relationships. Explain this view and give examples of environmental destruction in developing countries – to consider the extent to which this destruction has been caused by relationships with the rich countries. What Kinds of changes could work?


Since time immemorial, the relationship between the rich and the poor countries has always been deficient.  As such, achieving sustainable environmental conditions in the global arena has been challenging to a huge extent. According to Srinivasan et al. (2008), owing to the fact that global environment does not respect political borders, the effect of the ecological damage wrought by a single country have detrimental impacts on other countries across the world.  This notwithstanding, it has long been established that environmental problems in poor countries have to a huge extent been caused by the relationships that exist between the developing and the rich countries. Srinivasan et al. (2008) espouse that the level of environmental degradation in poor countries is usually left at the disposal of the rich countries. On this understanding, this essay is devoted to vividly probe into this view, through providing rational examples of environmental destruction in developing countries in the plight of the relations that exist between those countries and the poor countries. The essay also explores a myriad of changes that can be put in place for the purpose of overcoming these environmental challenges through enhancing the relationship between the rich and the poor.

Environmental destruction in developing countries

As previously stated, the relationship between the rich and poor countries is hardly mutual especially when it comes to environmental matter. In light of this, the status of the environmental condition for the developing nations continues to worsen owing to this relationship.  Owing to deficient relationship, the rich nations have accumulated large amount of wealth   because of increased industrial development that makes them major supplier of all kinds of product.  The rise of industries in these nations have resulted to   discharge of waste chemicals, pollutions and reduced forest cover.  The industrial activity of the rich nation has therefore caused havoc to ecological system owing to negative effect on the environment.  As opined by Srinivasan et al. (2008), industrialized rich countries  flourished  because  they  were able to  burn fossils fuel indiscriminately  for a long time  and the effect of these emissions is now being felt worldwide more so in poor countries.  This has made poor nation to struggle with diseases as well as disaster for decades owing to the environmental damage that was caused by rich nations.  As the global warming intensifies following emission from the rich nations, the water scarcity, flooding and drought continues to heighten in the poor countries (Mujih 2008). This will affect the poor countries that have not had the chance of burning fossil fuels in large quantities as it is the case with developed nations.

Low-income nations are bearing the significant burden of ozone depletion and climate change.  These changes have been driven by the emission of greenhouses gases and ozone-depleting chemicals by the rich nations that are more industrialized.   According to Page (2008), more than 2000 billion tonnes of carbon have been emitted into the atmosphere following human activities such as the extensive burning of fossils fuels. In this line, the global concentration of carbon dioxide has also increased consistently. The accumulation of other greenhouse gases has also reached 430ppm and growing by approximately 2ppm (Stern 2007). On this understanding, the rich countries take the largest share of global cumulative greenhouses emission, which explains the deficient relationship that rich nations have with poor nations and the problem of them contributing toward control of climate change.  The fact that developed nations used nonrenewable resources without taking the consideration the impact on the environment continues to increase the burden on poor nations.

In reference to Page (2008), most of the activities that destroy the environment in developing nations such as mining and logging are carried out by Multinational Corporation with financial assistance from these developed countries and rich nation. Consequently, the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment asserted that the population in most of the rich nations make use of approximately 85% of the world’s resources (Assessment 2005). To satisfy the high consumption of rate of this population, the developed nations have relocated labor-intensive industries to the developing nations.  This has been echoed by Stavropoulos et al. (2018), who articulate that developed nations are relocating their industries to developing nations where there are weak environmental law and lax enforcement of environmental regulations. As such, through strategic alliance as well as mergers, multinational corporations are making the world to depend on technologies that are environmentally destructive which allow the rich nation to pass their environmental burden to developing nations through pollution and wastes.   Besides, the developed nation are specializing in the service sector and high tech and outsourcing their carbon emission by relocating their labor-intensive industries to developing nations.  Despite the fact that the rich nations have been cited to contribute most of the Greenhouses gases that have a negative impact on the environment, the deficient relationship with poor nations does not trigger them to take the responsibility neither to agree on who should take responsibility on causing the environmental problems that are being experienced today and also how the problem should be addressed.

Owing to the deficient relationship between rich and poor nation, the poor nation is usually reluctant to contribute more when it comes to mitigation.  However, the impact of climate change is being shouldered by poor nations, which are less responsible for the damage and less capable of coping with consequences.  For instance, climate change is likely to have a catastrophic impact in Africa than in US. Crop failures due to rise in temperature and flooding which renders most people homeless will only be felt by poor nations because they do not have a better way of coping.  This has been echoed by Wijaya (2014) stating that most of the rich nations responsible for climate change are industrially based economies unlike most of the poor nations that are agriculturally based economies. This means they will not be threatened as such by climate change as they have extensive resources to cope with the effect of climate change. For instance, a poor country may not build sea ball while a rich nation may have the ability to build implying that the deficient relationship makes the developed nations to be reluctant and less concerned on the environmental impact that they cause to poor nations.

 According to Highfield (2008), rich nations have caused environmental damage that disproportionately impacts the developing nations and cost them approximately £920 billion, which is more than what these nations owe the foreign debt. In light of this, deficient relationship between rich and poor nations makes the rich nations to overfishing on the international waters bodies and also in poor nation’s water.  As such, overfishing   impact the marine ecosystem, for instance, increased growth of algae, bycatch, and threat to the health of coral reefs among other effects such as the loss of billions of fish. For example, the rich coastal water of Africa has for a long time been plundered by foreign fleets that have been fishing illegally.  The impact of this illegal fishing by foreign fleets ha enormous impacts such as harming the marine environment.  For instance, West Africa loses approximately 1.3 billion per years due to illegal fishing in addition to the destruction of its marine environment (Kende-Robb 2016).  The population in rich countries have a long time shown an increased interest in high-quality seafood which its own nation cannot sustain. This triggers illegal fishing and overfishing on the international water bodies causing harm to the marine environment. Unsustainable fishing such as trawling by the rich nations has, in turn, caused depletion of fish stock, which destroys coral reefs as well as the habitat incessantly for health ocean wildlife population.  According to UN, rich nations who exploit the fishing grounds of developing nations should be reined so as to conserve the marine environment and prevent plummeting of fish stock.  The fish stock across the world has become depleted and in response, rich countries have responded by seeking fishing grounds that belong to the developing nations (Vidal & Harvey 2012). The rich nations are able to fish more because of their technology and huge trawlers compared to that of developing nations that is characterized by small boats.  The rich nations are also taking advantage of the weak laws in developing nations where they sign the deal with these governments to exploits the opportunity. In addition, the fleet owners from the rich nations are circumventing regulations and registering their vessels in the poor countries while they export the fish back to their home market (Finley 2011).  The valuable mangrove forest that plays a critical role in protecting coastline, sustaining sea life as well as slowing the climate change is being destroyed by widespread shrimp farms.  This is echoed by Doyle (2012), that mangrove forest acts as nurseries for the wild fish stock as well as a buffer to storm surges.  This is because they easily absorb carbon dioxide resulting from burning fossil fuels and store it in the roots. In addition, their growth helps in to counteract the effect of sea level rise. The largest consumers of the shrimps are the wealthy nations such as the US and Canada, which imports luxury shrimps products. When mangrove is cut down, a large cost is borne by the poor nations and the primary cost is the loss of storm protection.  For instance, loss of mangrove forest in Southern Asia caused loss of life in the 2005 Tsunami (Highfield 2008).  This can also be attributed to the deficient relationship in which the rich nations are engaging in activities aimed at causing a negative effect on the environment at the expense of the poor nations.  On this understanding, the footprint of developed nations is falling on the poor nations at the plight of deficient relationship that exists between the rich and poor nations.

 While agricultural intensification and deforestation impact the host country, the impact resulting from climate change is spread over the nations. The poor nations engage in deforestation to export timber to the rich nation, which escalates the negative impact on the climate.  In addition, rich nations such as the US are also losing a large cover of their forest through deforestation and as stated the impact of climate change is felt globally (Mills Busa 2013). Given the fact that the poor are less likely to have a viable coping mechanism, they carry the most cost and burden of climate change.  The primary cost of deforestation is flooding and soil erosion as well as negative impact on the water cycle.  The annual loss of forest cover is highest in the world poorest countries such as Brazil and Indonesia.

Changes that could work

The significance of the mutual relationship between developed and developing nation cannot be overlooked in curbing factors that negatively impact the environment.   One of the changes that can work is public diplomacy. Leonard et al. (2002) explain that public diplomacy is government-sponsored efforts with the aim of communicating with the foreign public directly. On this understanding, the leaders from the developing nations should seek public diplomacy with the developed nation in order to establish a mutual relationship, which acts as a basis for protecting the environment.  There should also be NGO diplomacy where non-governmental organizations encourage the government from the developed nations to develop policies and laws aimed at conserving the forest. For instance, WWF is involved in environmental diplomacy where it is involved in negotiations directed toward addressing environmental challenges as well as sustainable development. Use of NGO and public diplomacy, a mutual relationship can be established where both developed and developing nation agree toward protection of the environment.  Therefore, engaging in environmental diplomacy can help in regulating the resources shared among nation such as fishing in the international water bodies and also help in protecting environmental amenities from the destruction.

The other strategy that could establish a mutual relationship and protect the environment is the signing of treaties between the developed and developing nations. As such, the nations should enter into treaties and seek international cooperation toward the protection of the environment. However, UNEP should be used to ensure these treaties among nations are implemented. However, international environmental treaties only bind those nations that agree to comply. Therefore, there should be an international police force to enforce the agreement as well as compliance. Therefore, through environmental treaties, the rich and the poor nation can establish a mutual relationship toward protecting as well as conserving the environment. This will ensure that the rich nations will not engage in activities such as burning fossils fuels that produce greenhouses gases but instead seek to use a renewable source of energy as they will be held accountable by the treaties with the developing nations.

Thirdly, developing nations are said to have weak environmental law and lax enforcement of environmental regulations (Mujih 2008).  In this view, these nations should seek to have strict regulations that will help regulate activities that destroy the environment. For instance, the developing countries should have strict regulation on the transnational corporations that are established in their countries. As such, they should establish a high standard especially in relation to the emission of greenhouses gases among other chemicals that depletes the ozone layer.  Besides, the high standard should be regulated on the MNC that mine in poor countries and in turn cause damage to the environment such as dumping of waste that may be harmful to the population such as lead.  This means that the developing nations should strengthen their environmental protection requirement for the MNCs to adhere to them when entering the market.  Previously, the policymakers have relaxed the environmental regulation so as to compete for the limited FDI.  This, in turn, has resulted to decline of industrial activities in developed nations and acute increase in degradation of natural resources and pollution in the developing nation. Alternatively, a developing nation can establish a win-win strategy where they can still have a stringent environmental regulation that can enhance a nation’s competitiveness and still attract FDI (Rivera & Oh 2013). Also, rich and poor nations should seek to develop and implement laws at a national level that in which all the involved parties can abide with in relation to conserving the environment and avoiding human actives that result to the destruction of the environment.


In conclusion, it is evident that global environmental does not respect political borders. Impliedly, climate change affects all the nations. However, the poor nations are left with more burden than the rich nations despite the fact that the developed nations have contributed largely when it comes to degradation of the environment.  On this understanding, this paper has analyzed the deficient relationship that exists between the developed nation and the developing nation so as to understand the environmental problems in developing nations. This paper has argued that developed nations have extensively burned fossil fuels in large quantities and the impact on climate is being incurred by poor nations which do not have a better mechanism of coping when it comes to things like floods and droughts.  Also, the deficient relationship means that developed nation engages in overfishing in the international body and also import shrimps product resulting to destruction of mangrove forest. The primary cost such as flooding is borne by the poor nation.   To solve this, this paper encourages setting policy and implementing laws at the national level, signing treaties and the stringent environmental requirement for MNCs in developing nations.


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