Case 225 - Sustainable Development or Environmental Imperialism? Guinea-Bissau and the Hazardous Waste Trade
Montgomery, Mark A.
This two-part case study describes the situation in 1988, when the government of Guinea-Bissau was offered, but declined, the opportunity to enhance its national income and alleviate its debt burden by importing millions of tons of toxic waste from Europe, North America, and Australia. What scuttled the plan, however, was not a determination that the environmental risks outweighed the economic benefits. Rather, political pressure, especially from overseas, derailed the government’s efforts to strike a balance between economic and environmental goals. This case study illustrates the political dimension of sustainable development and should stimulate discussion about the degree to which developing countries can, or should, determine their own economic and environmental priorities.