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The ethical dilemma of sustainable development: Guyana

Tilokie Depoo (Metropolitan College of New York, New York, USA)
David J. Rosner (School of Management, Metropolitan College of New York, New York, USA)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Article publication date: 10 May 2011




The purpose of this paper is to provide the ethical justification for an argument regarding compensatory sustainability programs in general and for small developing nations such as Guyana.


This is a conceptual paper. A logical argument is presented and objections are analyzed.


Compensatory sustainability programs can be seen to be justified by influential ethical theories such as Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice. Free market objections to compensatory sustainability initiatives are shown to be ethically and practically problematic.

Research limitations/implications

While this is a conceptual study, further empirical research is needed regarding the interplay between the social, economic and ecological systems in developing countries, leading to the formulation of the specifics of practical legislation.

Practical implications

The findings in this paper will lead to innovative policy decisions that will increase sustainable practices in small developing countries.


During the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, it was agreed that developing countries should be compensated for their participation in sustainability initiatives. The ethical and theoretical parameters of this debate were not articulated in a sustained and comprehensive manner. The paper provides the theoretical underpinnings for compensatory sustainability programs in third world countries. In the context of defending their argument, the authors also examine larger philosophical issues regarding human nature in general and how these debates relate to the issues of sustainability and globalization.



Depoo, T. and Rosner, D.J. (2011), "The ethical dilemma of sustainable development: Guyana", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 75-84.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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