This chapter reviews the idea of development and discusses the more popular development models of the last decades. The overall goal of the chapter is to establish the theoretical and historical context in which sustainable development evolved, and to serve as basis to the analysis of the second part of this thesis, where the development pattern observed in Puerto Rico in the last decades are described and analyzed. Reviewing past development philosophies help to identify the impediments to the incorporation of environmental and social limits in development policies and programs. This description emphasizes the role of the socio-political relations in which development programs are designed and implemented.

    In the first parts I describe the most popular conceptual and ideological bases of development policies and programs of the last decades. I describe the popular perceptions of development, and discuss the principal paradigms. More recent approaches to development, considered alternative, are discussed also. These introduce a critical perspective on the popular models of the industrialization based development. They follow a socio-environmental perspective of development from which sustainable, and alternative development models have arose.

    In the second part of this Chapter One discuss sustainable development as the resultant paradigm that evolved from these new tendencies in the way to approach development. A construction that challenges the last decades of development thinking and demands new methods and ideologies. This section lists some criteria for the evaluation of environmental and/or economic sustainability. Here I propose the role that planning must play within the sustainable development scheme.


    In the last decades developmentalism became the main ideological trend in third world countries following models established by the industrialized world. Industrialization was perceived as the solution to persistent social and economic problems. New paradigms stress the need for comprehensive assessment of policies, institutions involved, a revision of the beneficiaries and effects of the development programs.

    A recurrent topic in the new approaches to the description of relationships between the physical and the socioeconomic environments is the role of economic growth and industrialization in attaining progress and its equitable distribution. This ideology was institutionalized in many planning and economic development bodies.

    Pantojas-García (1990) argues that as a result, development strategies became ideological instruments represented as "rational economic models, neutral sets of development policies and programs of the state." These were responsive to the objectives of economic models in which they were based. The satisfaction of basic needs was assumed to be the logical result of modernization.

    In these models, development was understood as an unidirectional process that results in higher production and higher material standards of living. These were therefore the logical result of an increase in industrialization and the adoption of modern technology (Wallman 1977).

    Havens and Flinn (1975), for example, described development as a process involving three interrelated activities in society: (1) the establishment of increased wealth and income, (2) the creation of means to attain these, and (3) the restructuring of society to achieve its persistence. Havens and Flinn's model is representative of the development as economic growth and modernization ideology that permeated policy analysis and planning strategies in the last century, were progress and welfare are assumed to be an automatic result of increase economic activity, growth in production, high rates of consumption, and maximum industrialization. On the other hand, underdevelopment is interpreted to be a technologically inferior state, and is related to traditional modes of production and low levels of consumption in comparison to the rates of modernized developed systems. This philosophy set the basis for the categorization of countries according to their economic state using as reference the developed countries. It is also the basis of developmentalism as an ideology.

    Economic growth, interpreted as progress, has been the dominating dogma of the industrial era. The objective of increasing the indicators of economic growth resulted in the rationalization of the process. The diffusion of this model came together with the internationalization of the economy and the new distribution of labor. The diffusion influenced the form and function of societies, the "style of development" (Sunkel 1980). Developing nations adopted "styles of development" that imitated changes and cultural transformations in the developed (industrialized) countries in an attempt to reach that higher state.

    This tendency was first observed after the Depression of the 1930s. However, it intensified after WWII when economic, political, and technological conditions were appropriate.

    The popularization of developmentalism and the new "style" favored the rationalization of the policy and planning activities by the state. It had the objective, of restructuring the economic system and modernizing the production to achieve the more efficient use of resources in economic terms. The popularization of developmentalism was often promoted by international organizations. Pantojas-García contends that the "populist developmentalism" of the 1950s in Latin America represented a restructuring of established political agendas to preserve the status quo.1  He argues that these structural changes, served in most cases the political objectives of dominant elites, both local and in the metropolises, rather than the real needs of the majority of the population living under conditions of poverty. Being the fundamental argument of much of the analysis that questions the validity of development schemes and programs of the 1950s through 1980s in developing countries, the debate stresses the programs failure to satisfy the basic needs of the people and to equitably distribute their benefits and impacts, and the destruction of the long term natural productive capacity.

    Because development as economic growth and modernization was instituted in development and planning institutions, well-being, basic needs, distributional issues, and the long term environmental objectives became an indirect goal.2  Since the development programs were based on economic growth theory, these issues were treated as externalities and not as real social costs of the process. Therefore, seldom were these effectively integrated in analysis and assessment of the development strategies. Instead other government structures were developed to deal with social and environmental agendas.

    With these new tendencies in development strategies, in the 1950s and 1960s, and in the context of the internationalization of the economy, the costs of resources and labor became important factors in the global set of economic and political relationships. This redefinition resulted in the shift of industrialization strategies to an export manufacture production orientation that is still prevalent, and has intensified in most developing regions, for example in the Caribbean. In many countries the shift in economic objectives signaled the beginning of a period of intensive environmental and vital natural resource quality degradation.


    Based on theoretical constructions in the social sciences Agnew (1982), identifies three main development paradigms. The first two of these are: Modernization, and the World Political Economy. These two paradigms revolve around the basic definition of development as patterns and modes of increasing wealth and income. These, however, represent generalizations based on what Bauer (1973) calls "major aspects of historical change of societies." They serve, nevertheless, as a framework for the description and analysis of the development experience. A third theoretical construction mentioned by Agnew (1982), is an integrated approach to development analysis and study known as the Eco-Political Economy. This approach will be described in a latter section as a new perception or framework for development analysis.

    The three approaches to development analysis differ among themselves on the scale at which they operate, and, most important, their definition of development, in terms of the benefits of economic growth (Agnew 1980). The modernization theories present a model or blueprint of development, while the world political economy and the eco-political economy approaches define a framework for the analysis of development and the relationships involved.

    The development model proposed by modernization advocates operates at a national level. Here development is define in terms of economic growth and change as measured in reference to the western or industrialized countries. The model of development for "not-developed" countries is set by the  industrialized ones. It assumes that the less developed will follow the former to reach a equivalent standard of living. No attention is given to social and ecological factors and their characteristic relationships. This model is fundamentally based in economic theory and have as tools technological change towards capital and energy intensiveness and industrialization. A good representation of the spirit of the modernization paradigm is Rostow's "Stages of Economic Growth" (Rostow 1960).3

    Modernization patterns of development describe a universal model of development without consideration to cultural, social or ecological characteristics of a nation. In the stages of growth a series of "steps" serve as blueprint of how development occurs. These stages to development are prescribed independently of any other contextual factors, physical or social. It is assumed there is a transformation from a traditional, through a transitional, to a modernized society. Based on these a nomenclature, levels of development popularized to describe these stages: underdeveloped, developing, and developed societies. These illustrate the linearity of the development thinking under the modernization paradigm.

    Rostow's design of stages of economic growth are based on the model set by European economic history. Technology plays an important role in evolving development process. Other significant factors include the institutionalization of efficiency and productivity, and the acceptance of western ideas and values. Embedded in this model is the value of rationality and a scientific world view, growth and the increasing application of science and technology, together with the continuous adaptation of the institutions of society to the new world view and the new technology (Dube 1988). Progress is measured through the use of indicators of material living standards as indicator of well-being such as income per capita, cars per person, miles of road, and number of telephones among others.

    Dube(1988) maintains that the most important attribute of the modernization models is rationality. He describes rationality as a transformation of the thought process at the individual level which permeates the whole institutional framework. This transformation brings about not only structural changes but involves value shifts that reform the fundamental bases of entire societies. Efficiency and productivity are instituted as sacred values, as well as other western ideas.

    The concept of modernization prevailed as the main development paradigm through the second half of this century. Nevertheless, a different approach to the understanding of development at a global scale advanced during that time. This approach focus on "the structure of economic and political relationships between "dominant and dominated" societies in the context of the global history of economic growth and political control"(Agnew 1982). This perspective on development responds to issues that became more evident with the decolonization processes of the 1940-60s, the internationalization of the economy, and the redefinition of the division of labor after the Post-War era. They describe the development process within a framework of historic political and economic control that is called the World Political Economy.

    The World Political Economy framework was extensively used by the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean in their analysis of development issues on this area (Prebish 1980). Sunkel (1980) uses the complex sets of relationships on which these analytical frameworks are based in his description and analysis of development and environmental factors in that geographical context (Sunkel 1980).

    The World Political Economy paradigm incorporates a series of economic, social and political dimensions in the interpretation and analysis of development. These dimensions can be defined in function of the political and economic relations between local institutions and foreign sources of capital and technology. Sunkel maintains that the results of these interactions are conditioned by "the nature of the socio-political mediations" in which these occurs. For countries participating in the international economy it is only in the light of these relationships that the benefits and impacts of development strategies can be coherently described and assessed.


    After the 1970s, it became increasingly clear that decades of unprecedented levels of economic growth and industrialization in certain developing countries were not solving many of the pervasive social problems, like unemployment, distributional issues, and satisfaction of basic needs and services. Indeed, the strategies on which these programs were based did not directly address these issues. Critics of the perspective that viewed development as simply modernization focus their attention on the large sectors of the population that were excluded from the benefits of industrialization. These critiques also focus on the impact of economic growth on environmental quality and natural resources, including their productive capacity and its limits. Thus, in developing countries and international forums, a critique of imported models of development as economic growth and industrialization gained popularity.4

    Attempts to redefine development arose. Sunkel (1980), for example, defined development as a transformation of society that leads to the improvement of average levels of living. He defined development as involving several processes as is the growth of production capacity, increase in average productivity per worker, and income per capita. Different from other approaches, Sunkel emphasized the need to assess changes in social organization, the structure of classes and groups, transformations in culture, values, and changes in the political and power structure. In Sunkel's discussion of development the role of the environment and resources in holding some of these processes, particularly growth in production, and increased productivity per worker is stated and analyzed explicitly.

    The rethinking of developmentalism resulted in the identification and description of networks of relations that characterize the interaction of socio-economic and ecologic systems. These innovative perspectives involved the reevaluation of the basic goals of the development programs and their impacts, and require the redefinition of development objectives according to contextual basis. The redefinition of development involves the questioning of the ethical basis of assuming that maximum industrialization is an ultimate social or economic status (Wallman 1977, Schumacher 1973), or that neoclassical economics is appropriate to analyze and guide this development process (Hall 1992). New approaches to development thinking varied from those that stress the need for new development perspectives (Wallman 1977), analytical frameworks (Yapa 1980), and alternatives (Dube 1988).

    The need for new perspectives on development thinking also was influenced by the energy crises of the 1970s. In this respect, the implied neoclassical economic assumption of an infinite source of cheap energy and materials to finance the development process lost credibility (Goodland et al. 1987, Hall et al. 1984; 1986). The energy crises had the effect of exposing not only the vulnerability of productive systems dependant on finite resources, but the power of the political mediations in the availability of these resources. In this way the vulnerability of countries that increased their productive capacity based on imported fossil fuels was exposed. The effects of the energy crises were particularly felt by those developing countries that had reoriented their strategies towards export production using energy intensive manufacturing sectors and no local sources of oil. An example of this is the case study of this thesis, Puerto Rico, a highly industrialized system dependent on imports to satisfy a high percent of its energy, raw materials, and consumer goods demand.

    These concerns together with the high rates of population growth compounded to generate different approaches to typical reductionistic contemporary analysis and the development of new models like the basic needs approach (Graciarena 1979). They also resulted on systematic evaluations of global patterns that in some way tried to incorporate social, economic and ecological relationships within a common framework, and forecasting techniques that intended to describe the relationship between population growth, and resource use (Meadows 1972, Pirages 1977).

    Among the new multidimensional perspectives to the analysis of development Lakshman Yapa's Eco-Political Economy approach (1980), as described by Agnew (1982), is the greatest departure from conventional wisdom in development theory. The Eco-Political Economy approach presents a critical perspective that stresses the need for the evaluation of expected benefits in the light of the ecological and socio-cultural disruption that can result from it (Yapa 1980). The framework of the World Political Economy is combined with a critical perspective on the value of economic growth. The meaning and description of development based on local contexts is stressed as central to the analysis of ecological and socio-cultural changes. Rather than reductionist rationalization of the development process, Yapa advocates a different analytical framework based on the identification and description of sociological, economic, ecologic, and political relationships.

    Advocates of ecologically oriented approaches subscribe to the need of analyzing development in the context of the modes of production, resource requirements, and the ecological relationships. Thus, the concept of development is expanded to include modern relations of production-consumption that include ecological and geographical factors.

    The eco-political economy framework of analysis puts forth a systematic approach to the description and assessment of cultural, social and ecological variables. It is an attempt to improve our understanding of these variables and to explore alternatives to equity, distributional and resource misuse conflicts in the developing nations.

    Given that foreign capital dependent industrialization in developing countries has been a major economic growth strategy we can conclude that comparative cost advantage in manufacturing production has been related not only to lower labor, primary products and resources cost, but also to lower costs of waste disposal and pollution control technologies expenditures. Thus, a determining factor in the global set of economic relationships has been the pollution control cost savings that allow that margin of advantage. The shift of resources to the industrialization of export oriented manufacturing and agriculture often resulted shift of the productive resources from the production to satisfy local needs. This demanded a more intensive use of resources in the industrializing countries, and created the need of imports to satisfy local consumption needs. Often countries turned to the exploitation of marginal resources to satisfy local needs.

    It is in the context of this new economic order that concerns about the patterns of industrialization as development strategies, and the need for a revision in development thinking progressed. It is therefore important to review characteristics of this shift in the use of productive resources and its relation to development priorities.


    Development strategies in the last fifty years centered on two models of industrialization: the import substitution model and the export oriented manufacturing production model. The import substitution strategies became more popular among some developing countries during the 1950s. It was first promoted by the debates of the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations (CEPAL) (Rodríguez 1980). It evolved in response to the needs, as perceived by CEPAL members, of a new International Economic Order, and a renewed emphasis on satisfaction of basic needs in development strategies. After the 1960s, with the increasing internationalization of the economy, the export manufacturing strategies became more popular. This process, and the decolonization processes that were in their major momentum in the 1950s-60s, created adequate conditions for the shift to export-oriented manufacturing production. There was also a shift in economic development policy priorities from the resource and primary products production emphasis to the export-oriented manufacturing.

    The export oriented manufacturing model of development is in many cases, for example in the case of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries, heavily dependent on imports of capital, raw materials, energy and technology, including production criteria and forms of organization. Sunkel (1980) contends that increase exportation of primary products based on the exploitation of natural resources is still necessary to finance these imports. The model instituted new means by which developed societies have access to the natural resources and productive capacity of developing societies, including labor and waste absorption capacity. It offered the latter ones an opportunity for rapid economic growth rates through foreign capital investments for industrialization and technology transfer.

    The industrial revolution that took place in developing countries created concerns about the type, and impact, of the main manufacturing activities, and the lack of infrastructure and mechanisms to deal with the potential environmental impact and resource depletion. In general, export oriented manufacturing activities in developing countries, such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and pesticides, electronic and machinery, are characterized by their high pollution potential. A second related concern is that environmentally healthier traditional sectors, such as textiles, footwear, food, furniture and others, lagged behind in growth or in some cases even disappeared.5  Industrialization, as a development strategy, is mostly responsive to forces of efficiency and the need to maintain a competitive edge than to local markets or the need to satisfy basic needs and to preserve the natural productive capacity on which it is based.6

    A third main general concern about this rapid transformation is the spatial concentration of the industrial development. The negative impacts of this kind of development are noticeable in larger developing countries such as México, or in countries such as Puerto Rico, where the political system have attracted capital investments through incentives. The implications of this spatial distribution of industrialization cover all aspects of society. An illustration of the high degree of concentration of industrial activities is that seven cities in three countries account for 75% of the total industrial product of all Latin America.7

    Regional and world environmental problems caused by degradation of vital resources and pollution, multiplied even as the number of technical fixes increase. This evidenced the ineffectiveness of environmental policy and protection approaches. The failure of industrialization strategies to focus on the complex interactions among three basic systems, the ecosystem, the production system and the economic system, created conflicts that place in question the universally accepted benefits of the process as means to quality of life improvements.


    The general context in which the predominant development philosophies of the last decades have evolved was discussed in this section. This exposition sought to draw a picture of the atmosphere in which modernization became an universal development paradigm at a global scale, and more specifically for developing nations. It also shows what were the main concerns about the common patterns of industrialization that provoked the need for new understanding and paradigms of development thinking. It is in this context that in the 1970s sustainable development appeared in international forums as a paradigm or alternative model of understanding the relationship between development, economic growth, the use of resources and conservation.

    This discussion of development philosophies shows the important role of the socio-political factors in which development strategies occur. The evaluation of past development programs and alternative development strategies must be placed in the context of the political economy of the international relations involved. This requires a description of power relations and the identification of beneficiaries and real benefits of the processes. In the next section I review the sustainable development idea as a new approach to development thinking that tries to incorporate environmental and resource factors.


    In its broader conception, sustainable development is an articulation of various concerns, social, environmental, cultural, and economic, that were conventionally treated independently in the predominant forms of contemporary analysis. Advocates have attempted to describe sustainability from different perspectives. Definitions vary from those that focus on natural limits (Pearce 1988), to the ones that emphasize conditions of the social system and structural factors (Barbier 1987, Simon 1989) and the significance of the "overriding structures of the international economic system" (Redclift 1987). Some focus on the need to describe sustainability "specifying the context as well as the spatial and temporal scales being considered" (Brown 1987, also Dovers 1990).

    The idea that development should be sustainable entails the recognition of the finite nature of resources and the limits imposed by these on economic growth. Ideologically, sustainable development extends to the realms of the social, ecologic, and cultural relations on which development processes occur. At a general level, it can be defined as a process of change that responds to the universal goals of desirable social change and that can be indefinitely maintained without irreversibly degrading the natural productive capacity of the system and its ability to sustain its population.8   As such, sustainable development points to issues of intergenerational equity and demands a restructuring of local institutions and a redesign of mechanisms by which societies appropriate nature.

    The idea have been perceived as antithetical and full of contradictions (Redclift 1987, Pearce 1988, Simon 1989, Shearman 1990). One of the basic concerns, mentioned by Redclift (1987), is how can this occur in a system that has been structured to foster short term unsustainable practices. Prevalent models of economic development have depended on the incorporation of adaptive mechanisms to satisfy basic needs. The adaptive mechanisms prevalent in society, although designed to resolve the conditions created by imperfections of the economic structure, often perpetuate the conditions it pertains to solve.

    Sustainable development as an approach to development analysis puts forth the need to respond to the conflictive and paradoxical nature of the development discourse by stressing the role of the political economy in the evaluation of the use of resources and protection of the environment in a specific context.

    Different interpretations have emphasized: 1) the need for new analytical frameworks to the relationship of production and resources, and 2) the need for a whole redefinition of social values, attitudes, and goals in the development process. Although not considered the broader of this perceptions, the idea of sustainable development as a constant stock of resources illustrates an attempt to incorporate resource limitations in the analysis of development options.


    Those with concerns about the unsustainability of industrialization models question their implicit assumptions, such as unlimited waste assimilation capacity, and unlimited availability of energy or other resources (Hall 1992). These are basic assumptions of the economic principles in which these models rest. An approach to the description of a system's sustainability has placed special attention on the dependence of uncontrolled economic growth on an infinite natural resource stock.9  In this approach sustainable development is defined as economic change that is subject to maintaining a natural capital stock. It assumes that if this stock is held constant, whatever social goals are appropriate will be realized (Pearce 1988). Pearce argues that "such a rule accommodates the main concerns of the advocates of sustainability", equity in various forms, economic resilience to external shocks and even solve the "uncertainty about the functions and values of natural environments in social systems" (Pearce 1988:596). This approach intends to internalize the finite nature of resources in economic analysis.

    Pearce neither seems to recognize, nor intends to describe and analyze, the role of power structures in the process. His approach of analyzing sustainable development as a constant stock of resources merely has the goal of incorporating natural resource considerations within the framework of conventional economic models. It does not contemplate an evaluation of the mechanisms by which the benefits of resource use, and the impact of economic activities, are distributed through society. It does not recognize the imperfections of the market mechanisms, or the role of the political economy of development, environmental protection and natural resource use.

    Sustainable development involves more than a review of mechanisms of valuation of nature and the environment and the discourse on equity and distribution. Instead it requires the revaluation of the principles of assessment, the structure and function of institutions, and a revision of the goals and objectives of development itself within specific contexts.


    The concept of sustainability originally used in the fields of ecology and agriculture, gained popularity in the description of sustainable methods of resource management. The idea evolved in the 1970s and 80s to include other than natural and production factors. Some common fundaments of sustainability as a paradigm of development are:

  1. The priority of development is the satisfaction of basic needs for all humans. These needs can more appropriately be described in reference to the local social, and cultural context.
  2. A system that is sustainable provides effective mechanisms and controls for the equal distribution of the benefits and impacts of processes.
  3. Development practices must preserve the long term natural productive potential. Conservation and protection of vital resources must be a priority of development programs.
  4. As a general rule in tune with the objective of the long term maintenance of productive activities, self-reliance is perceived as a more sustainable tendency than external source dependent growth of production.
    The sustainability of a society's productive potential is determined by its modes of natural resource base use. When evaluating environmental sustainability potential the impacts of development, as social transformation, in the environment can be assessed in terms of the following aspects:
  1. For a system to be able to satisfy human needs an adequate supply (constant stock) of raw materials, food and energy is necessary.
  2. Future availability of these resources will be a function of the rate of use and the mediations that condition the access and exchange of these resources.
  3. Materials and energy are transformed into an equal quantity of products and residues that have to be disposed of. The economic and social benefits of productive activities must be weighted against the impacts of waste generation and disposal on the quality and quantity of vital and productive resources. Natural limits to growth include not only limits to the natural productive capacity but also limits on waste assimilation capacity.
  4. Natural habitats and species have an intrinsic value and therefore must be preserved.
    In the search for applications of the sustainability theory that have been developed different analytical frameworks for sustainable development have been suggested. Three of these, Pearce's (1988), as previously discussed, Barbier's (1987) and Redclift's (1988), represent the spectrum of different approaches. In the tradition of scientific endeavor, the need for indicators of sustainability has also been pointed as one of the major needs for the application of this approach to development analysis (Kuik and Verbruggen 1991).

    Barbier's framework assumes that since sustainable development differ so markedly from the conventional economic consensus there is a need for a completely new analytical approach. The following are summarized criteria listed by Barbier that underlines his idea of what defines sustainable economic development:

  1. It is indistinguishable from the total development of society and cannot be analyzed separately depending on the interaction of economic changes, with social, cultural and ecological transformations;
  2. Its quantitative dimension is associated with increases in the material means available to those living in absolute poverty;
  3. Its qualitative dimension is multifaceted and associated with ensuring the long term ecological, social and cultural potential for supporting economic activity and structural change;
  4. Its not easily subject to measurement and cannot be fully captured by any concept of direct and measurable economic gain.
    Barbier stresses the difficulties in measurement of many factors that characterize development that could be sustainable. Because of the dynamic nature of development and the diverse social, economic, and ecological conditions in which it must be pursued, Barbier suggests an analytical approach that views the process of development as an interaction of three systems. Goals can be ascribed to each system, biological, economic and social. Barbier locates sustainable development in the intersection of these three systems and suggests that it involves a process of trade-offs among these goals.


Source Barbier (1987:104)

    This interpretation locates sustainable development among traditional ideologies. According to Barbier's diagram, the main difference between sustainable development and other paradigms is the inclusion of the biological system goals which include the preservation of genetic diversity, resilience, and biological values.

    Barbier emphasizes the significance of the process of negotiation among the goals of the three systems, since it is not possible to maximize all at the same time. Negotiation must guaranty participation from all sectors of society. To be legitimate, this process  must occur not only at a national, but also at regional and local levels of society, to be legitimate.
Barbier's framework recognizes the significance of the evaluation of interactions and trade offs among the main subsystems that make up society. However, no special attention is placed on the need to put the analysis of these interactions in an historical context. His attempt falls short of recognizing the central role of the political economy of sustainable systems development and the context of the international economy. He suggests the use of "a more comprehensive economic approach to the problems of environment and development" through the integration of environmental and natural resource management into macroeconomic policy. Barbier's framework points to the need of macroeconomic policy to integrate the evaluation of trade-offs existent among the system components.10  His framework is highly supportive of a system's approach to development analysis.

    On the other hand, Redclift (1988) stresses the need to relate environmental change to structural development processes focusing on North-South relationships. Two of Redclift's objectives illustrate what he perceives as priorities in analysis and evaluation:

To locate our conception of the "environment" within a broader historical and comparative framework, one which distinguishes the historical role of the environment at different stages of capitalist development;

To identify common elements in a political economy of the environment in which changes in the natural environment are analytically related to "superstructural" factors, such as ideology and policy, and at different levels of political complexity (1987).

    Redclift's (1987) analysis focuses on the description of the political and economic forces behind production practices. A similar approach is used by Sunkel (1980) in his discussion about styles of development and the environment. Redclift proposes that since market forces cannot be relied upon to protect environmental quality, we must depend more on policy agreements and planning. He emphasizes on the need for more than a compromise between economic growth and the conservation objectives, therefore suggesting the need for fundamental changes in goals, values and attitudes:
Sustainable development, if it is not to be devoid of analytical content, means more than seeking a compromise between the natural environment and the pursuit of economic growth. It means a definition of development which recognizes that the limits to sustainability have structural as well as natural origins (1987).
Redclift's approach requires placing the identification and description of limits to sustainability and problems of environmental degradation in a historical context. The description of the limits must correspond with the different perceptions of classes and interests of the social groups. The mechanisms for the articulation of these interests represent alternative development paths. This demands the identification of elements in a political economy approach to the development-environment relationships.


    In the complexity of modern systems, planning can play a role in the design of sustainable strategies that can respond to the priorities of social goals. To be effective in this sense, planning must take a dynamic form that responds to changing needs of society through constant reevaluation of goals and objectives.

    Based on the two most influential intellectual traditions in planning, Albretch (1985) identifies two main roles played by this activity in its historical evolution. These are: an advisory, value-free role based on the belief in the rationality of planning by which it takes an instrumental form, and an active, value concerned role that is based on the belief in social reform. In its active role, planning is a social process which occurs in the social network of roles and relationships.

    Albretch also identifies two forms or functions that planning has adopted historically: an allocative-adaptive form, and an innovative-normative from. On the allocative-adaptive form the main function of planning has been the allocation of limited resources among a number of competing uses. In this function the objectives of the system are not subject to inquiry in the process, and normative rules are preset through other processes. The main task of allocative planning is to serve as instrument to achieve those preset objectives. Thus, planning becomes a process where the best technical solution based on objective rationalization is used to allocate available resources to its most productive use.

    In contrast, the normative form of planning is influenced by, and associated with reform. It involves the creation of new solution alternatives and mechanisms to identify problems in the process. Planning becomes a process in which original objectives are reshaped to serve the fundamental goals that generated them. In this form planning is broader in scope, more complex in terms of factors and relationships involved, and participates in value formation processes. Its methods are experimental and learning oriented. Decisions and plan making fuses with implementation.

    Most common strategies in development planning and  environmental management has taken an allocative form. Design and planning of environmentally sustainable systems demands normative revisions. Social reform-oriented planning must play the role of incorporating different perceptions held by interest groups and design mechanisms to articulate these in an dynamic and malleable set of alternative options.


    The conflicts between economic growth, environmental quality, and equity illustrate the paradox of the perception of development. These conflicts have been the focus of new approaches to development thinking that integrate resource and social constraints to economic change. The evolution of alternative development models will depend on the ways in which these paradoxes are perceived, experienced or resolved by particular groups in particular contexts of space and time, to deal with resources which are not economic in the narrowest sense; and to recognize and put in practice alternative ways of improvement (Wallman 1977).

    The analysis in the next chapters will address the need of the description of the relation between resources and development to respond to the objective of sustainable development. In this study this analysis is done in the context of a small island with high population density, Puerto Rico.

1   Pantojas-García (1990:22) The ideology of development came to represent, explain, and legitimize the re-articulation of class alliances in favor of the interests of the bourgeoisie. Developmentalism legitimized the new relations of production (the new forms of exploitation and domination of the working classes) implicit in the strategy favored by the industrial bourgeoisie and presented it as the only viable alternative for development...The proponents of developmentalism presented society as divided between a "dynamic" industrial  sector and a "traditional" agricultural sector, not between social classes.

2    Development as economic growth has increased social and economic disparities. This was documented for countries that have attained high rates of growth in the last decades, like Mexico,or Brazil.  Adelman and Morris (1973), in a survey of income distribution done in poor countries, found significant increases in income for the 5% richest sector of the population and identified a decline in income of the lowest 40% population on the income scale. On many cases we might identify relationship in policies which implicitly, sometimes explicitly, promote a gap in income distribution classes.

3   In this group of theories there are five stages in the growth process from underdevelopment to a developed industrialized status.  All societies can be classified as lying in one of the five categories: the traditional society, the preconditions for take-off, the take off, the drive to maturity, and the age of high mass consumption.  The purpose is to urge the lower ranking  nations to catch up with the developed nations. Countries are rank based on indices such as Gross National Product, energy consumption, number of cars or telephones etc, and it is  assumed that poor countries can eradicate poverty by emulating developed countries (Yapa 1980).  Rostow, the main exponent of the stages of growth idea, treats environmental damage as an externality and proposes that the solution to social problems resides in the improvement of production forces (Rostow 1978).

4   Pantojas-García  (1990:7).  The view that  a development strategy is a technical construct that guides the process of economic growth and "progress", devoid of any consideration of conflicting interests and political conflict, has been termed desarrollismo, or developmentalism, by Latin American social scientists.

5   This is documented by Balassa et al, in a study where they compared 11 countries with different levels of export manufacturing participation and import substitution strategies.

6   This was the perception of the First Inter-parliamentary Conference on the Environment in Latin America  and the Caribbean celebrated in México City in 1987. It was expressed in their declaration in the following words: "Our nations have been transferred into net exporters of financial resources. We see our financing opportunities manacled, or even cancelled and our efforts alienated from the possibility of acquiring the technology specifically designed to prevent degradation of the environment, or productive options to make its preservation feasible".

7    These cities are: Buenos Aires, Santa Fé, Guanábara, Río de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, México City and Monterrey (Sunkel 1980).  Another example is the number of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, 271 in 1988 (Wolpert 1988).

8    In this discussion I refer to sustainable development from an anthropocentric point of view. However in my perspective there is no conflict between the anthropocentric and non anthropocentric views.

9    See for example Pierce (1988).

10    Barbier (1988:108) Thus, if the sustainability of the ecological processes underlying economic activity is recognized to have value, then sustainability must be included explicitly as one of the objectives to be pursued by development planners and policymakers.

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