Ecological debt

Initially, the ecological debt is a political tool which was developed by countries of the South in order to question the illegitimate nature of the foreign debt claimed by countries of the North and financial institutions. Actually, if today the reality that underlies this concept is not questioned, however its formulation is a matter of debate.
Apart from the references given by Aurora Donoso from Acción ecológica [1], Martinez-Alier, Simms & Rijnhout suggest the following definition: « Ecological debt is the debt accumulated by Northern, industrial countries towards Third World countries on account of resource plundering, unfair trade, environmental damage and the free occupation of environmental space to deposit waste [2] ».
According to the definition given in the French version of Wikipedia, the ecological debt continues to grow through five dimensions that are carbon debt, environmental liabilities, the alimentary debt, biopiracy and dangerous waste transportation.
Thus, the notion of ecological debt is a matter of social and environmental justice and goes within the reflection on common goods and their reclaiming [3].


[1an equatorian NGO, see in particular: Donoso Aurora (2002), ‘An Alliance to Stop the Destruction of Southern Peoples Livelihoods and Sustainability’, speech delivered at the Indonesian Peoples’ Forum, May 24th to June 5th 2002, Bali, Indonesia

[2Joan Martinez Alier, Andrew Simms, Leida Rijnhout, Poverty, Development and Ecological Debt, june 2008: ; and see also: Paredis, E., et al. (2004), An elaboration of the concept of ecological debt, VLIR-BVO project 2003, Final report, 1er September 2004, Centre for Sustainable Development (CDO), Ghent University

[3See the Manifesto Reclaim the Commons: