Ecological debt is the level of resource consumption and waste discharge by a population in excess of locally sustainable natural products and assimilative capacity .

The term has been used since 1992 by some environmental organizations from the Global South . The first one to use this term was the Instituto de Ecologia Politica from Chile. [1] JM Borrero, from Colombia, a lawyer, wrote a book on the ecological debt in 1994. [2] This report to the environmental liabilities of Northern countries for the excessive per capita production of greenhouse gases, historically and at present. Campaigns on Ecology and Ecology of Ecuador and Friends of the Earth . [3]

Ecofeminist Scholarship Ariel Salleh explains how the capitalist processes at work in the global North exploit nature and people simultaneously, „Ecological Debt: Embodied Debt“. [4] At the 1992 Rio Earth Summit , politicians and corporate leaders from the global North introduced the idea for the global debt crisis in the global South. [4] They propose ‚debt for nature swaps‘, which means that they have abundant biodiversity and environmental resourceswould give them up to the global North in return for the World Bank reducing their debt. [4]

Feminist environmentalists , indigenous activists, and peasants from the global South, primarily in Ecuador, exposed how the global North is much more indebted to the global South. Room 2 justifies this by explaining how the 500-year-long colonization process involved the extraction of resources has caused immense damage and destruction to the ecosystem of the global South. [4] In fact, scientists at the US National Academy for Sciences in the time period of 1961-2000, analyzing the cost of greenhouse gas emissions created by the rich (the global North) alone, it has become apparent that the rich it has greatly improved the poor’s foreign debt. [5] All of thisEnvironmental degradation of ecological debt, the world ’s livelihood resources in the global South.

The ecological debt manifested in the destruction of the environment and the climate change has been made possible through the process of modernization and capitalism. [4] There is a disassociation between the wealthy capitalists in the North and the environment. Men in particular through industrialization have had their own way of life. The notion of humans being embedded in the ecosystem that they live in is crucial to the discipline of political ecology . [4]In political ecology, qui Reconnects Nature and the economy, ecological debt is crucial Because It Recognizes That colonialisation Has not only resulted in a loss of culture, way of life, and language for Indigenous Peoples, purpose It has shaped the world economy into One That monetizes and commodifies the environment. For example, when the colonialization of South America occurred over 500 years ago, Western Europeans who? ] Brought Them with Their Eurocentric values, seeing Themselves better than you and therefore Entitled to the indigenous people’s knowledge and the land they lived on. In a perceived post-colonial world, large corporations and Western governments tend to present solutions to global warming by commodifying nature and hoping to make a profit. This better-than-thou attitude has created the conditions for global warming to occur, making the North’s ecological footprint soar, [6] while also constructing an ecological debt so broadly to the entire global South of their financial debt.


Academic work on calculations of the Ecological Debt cam later. A remarkable article with the title „The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts of human activities“ was published in 2008. [5]

Studies were also produced at regional level, for instance for Orissa, India. [7]

Some governments officials of developing countries have argued-at meetings on climate change -that the principle of the United States of America. The top US ambassador to the COP in Copenhagen in December 2009, Todd Stern , flatly rejected arguments by diplomats from poor lands that the United States owed such a debt. [8]

Ecological debt has been used to describe the energy consumption of ecosystems that exceeds the system’s regenerative capacity. [9] This is seen in particular in non-renewable resources . In a general sense, it can be used to refer to the overall depletion of global resources beyond the Earth’s ability to regenerate. The concept in this sense is based on the bio-physical carrying capacity of an ecosystem; through measure ecological footprints human society can determine the rate at which it is depleting natural resources. Ultimately, the imperative of sustainabilityrequires human society to live within the means of the ecological system to support life over the long term. Ecological debt is a feature of unsustainable economic systems.



  • Ecological debt: the health of the planet and the wealth of nations , Andrew Simms , Pluto books, 2005


  • J. Timmons Roberts and Bradley C. Parks (2009). Ecologically Unequal Exchange, Ecological Debt, and Climate Justice: The History and Implications of Three Related Ideas for a New Social Movement. International Journal of Comparative Sociology . 50 (3-4): 381-408. doi : 10.1177 / 0020715209105147 . .
  • Towards a Level Playing Field, Repaying Ecological Debt, or Making Environmental Space: Three Stories on International Environmental Cooperation, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, 2005, VOL 43; NUMB 1/2, pages 137-170
  • Elaboration of the concept of ecological debt, Center for Sustainable Development, Ghent University, 2004
  • Credit Where it’s Due: The Ecological Debt Education Project, Friends of the Earth Scotland, 2003
  • Who owes who ?: Climate change, debt, equity and survival, Christian Aid, 1999
  • North-South Relations and the Ecological Debt: Asserting a Counter-Hegemonic Discourse, Critical Sociology, 2009, VOL 35 (2); pages 225-252

See also

  • Carbon footprint
  • Carrying capacity
  • Ecological economics
  • Ecological footprint
  • Environmental racism


  1. Jump up^ MLRobleto and W. Marcelo, Deuda Ecologica, IEP,Santiago de Chile, 1992
  2. Jump up^ JMBorrero, The Deuda Ecologica, FIPMA, Cali 1994
  3. Jump up^
  4. ^ Jump up to:g Salleh, A. (2009). Ecological debt: embodied debt. Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice. London: Pluto Press.
  5. ^ Jump up to:b U. Thara Srinivasan; et al. (2008). „The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts from human activities“ . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . 105 (5): 1768-1773. doi : 10.1073 / pnas.0709562104 . PMC  2234219  . PMID  18212119 .
  6. Jump up^ Seager, J. (2009). The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World (4th ed.). New York, NY: Penguin.
  7. Jump up^ S. Khatua and W. Stanley, „Ecological Debt: Case Study from Orissa, India“ (2006)[1]
  8. Jump up^ ACReukin & T. Zeller, New York Times, 9 Dec. 2009
  9. Jump up^ Andrew Simms. Ecological Debt. (London:Pluto Press, 2009) p.200.