Industrialized nations must bear financial responsibility for saving the environment in developing nations, according to an EEC-sponsored conference Friday.
Scientists, historians, philosophers and lawyers from Europe, Asia and the United States concluded that the wealthy countries should pay for environmental cleanup and reforestation projects in the poorer nations."The responsibility lies with us," said Carlos Ripa di Meana, the European Economic Community's commissioner for the environment.
"Developed nations must collaborate with poorer countries," said Jiro Kondo, president of the Science Council of Japan. "In order to abate pollution you must be rich enough to introduce the proper equipment."
Di Meana said the question of the developing world's $450 billion foreign debt and possible debt-for-nature-swaps should be considered. Many environmentalists argue for the plan, in which developing nations agree to preserve forested areas in return for debt relief.
"Developed countries cannot impose on developing countries without some kind of specific compensation for what we're asking them to do," said Pierre Marc Johnson of McGill University in Montreal.
But environmental programs should not stymie economic growth, said Michael H. Robinson of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Much of the destruction of rain forests is caused by subsistence-level farmers who cut down trees for firewood or to plant crops, he said.
"Halting the destruction cannot and must not involve freezing the development of the Third World," Robinson said.
He suggested researchers look for alternatives to cutting trees, such as developing crops that grow in the forest.