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The early literature on international environmental politics (IEP) had a decisively global scale, in the sense that the key environmental problems of the day, population and resources (including ocean resources), were viewed as global rather than national or regional. This is not to say that transboundary and other international issues were not significant but, rather, to observe that the global scale was introduced into the study of IEP immediately after World War II, as it was with respect to economic, political, and military issues. Two factors seem to account for this global view of IEP: the global ends and means of American politics and the resource and naturalist legacies of colonial empires. The globalization of environmental issues continued unabated during the early 1960s to the middle 1970s, growing more complex over time as a result of the assertion of the Global South, and became more contested in the decades that followed. By the 1990s, the globalization of IEP and its study was broadened and deepened by the two grand narratives that dominate and contest the contemporary study of IEP. As a consequence, the diffusion of the study of IEP has continued and accelerated. European institutions and scholars are now as prominent while other English-speaking countries have contributed fundamentally to our thinking about IEP. IEP scholarship is also becoming more prominent in other areas, particularly the South.


Priya Kurian and Robert V. Bartlett

The fundamental conflicts and contradictions between environment and development, and various theoretical and practical efforts to reconcile them, have been a prominent part of the history of development thinking since environmentalism emerged as a significant political phenomenon in the 1960s. The idea of development as change for the better resonates perhaps with all civilizations and across time. All civilizations have development myths which reflect a self-awareness that a particular culture had at some time in the past advanced from a more primitive, less developed state. But these cultural myths of development are only incidentally material or economic. More pronounced concerns over the environment and development emerged during the 1960s and the 1970s. These decades were marked by the emergence of widespread public concern about environmental problems of air and water pollution, and the growth of the environmental movement led to national environmental policy developments and international efforts on the environmental front. In addition, development, environment, and sustainability are all normative concepts with implications for ethics and justice. The vast literature on sustainable development has spawned a range of critiques from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. The environmental justice literature developed after early sustainable development literature, and raises questions about intragenerational equity.