Our Common Responsibility to the Global Environment: The Europeans’ Ecological Debt

A new concept to be publicized

Yolanda ZIAKA, 10 novembre 2005

Everyone knows more or less what the debt Third World countries is: a financial debt. This is not true for the ecological debt, a new concept that was coined by South American NGOs in the early 1990s.

In its current conception, as used by South American activists, the ecological debt is a debt that is due by the industrialized countries of the North to the Third World countries, once colonies, as per the environmental impact entailed (still today) by the exploitation of their resources by the countries of the North, and as per « imported’ environmental impacts (waste dumped on their soil, etc.). The organization Acción Ecológica defines ecological debt as the responsibility of the industrialized countries for the « damage caused over time » of the planet by their « production and consumption patterns. »

telechargement our_common_responsibility_to_the_global_environment_yz.pdf (300 KiB)


  • Paredis E. et al., 2004, Elaboration of the Concept of Ecological Debt, VLIR-BVO project 2003, Final Report, Centre for Sustainable Development (CDO) - Ghent University, Belgium (search possibility on the Web site of Centre for Sustainable Development of Ghent University: cdonet.rug.ac.be/

  • Bourinet S., 2004, « Faire reconnaître la dette écologique des pays du Nord envers les pays du Sud », text written for the summer university of the CRID, Angers, Belgium, July 10, 2004.

  • the ENRED Web site: www.enredeurope.org

  • the Web site of Friends of the Earth Scotland: www.foe-scotland.org.uk/inter/inter_index.html