Blog / 27 April 2012

The paradoxical reality of our ‘race to the bottom’

The paradoxical reality of our ‘race to the bottom’


Argentina is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Its recovery from the financial crisis after 2001 is admiringly spoken of by many, because the country managed to free itself from the restraining tires of the IMF. At the same time, when looking at the streets and the sides of the road it's obvious here that inflation is increasing and the country is wasting its natural resources without a clear vision and without anyone benefiting from it either in the short or longer term.


For example, a great battle is fought over large mining projects. The national government hands out concessions to international companies without the local population being consulted about this. The country has now started a protest movement against mining and other forms of privatization. Conflicts between national and local interests are going thus far that the national government refuses to give out tax money to 'rebellious' communities.

A comparable development can be seen in agriculture. More and more land is in the hands of smaller groups of entrepreneurs. Agricultural production focuses on rice and especially soy, so the country - once very proud of the quality of its own meat - now imports quality meat from other parts of the world and invests in a national bio-industry. Overly fed chickens are almost considered the standard. Efforts towards large-scale agriculture and cattle-breeding lead to privatization of nature areas in favor of monoculture. The use of pesticides is taking on disturbing forms and has massive consequences on people and the environment.

Argentina is not only interesting because the consequences of our current development model are debated, but also because of its lively societal dynamics. In every region, small societal organisations, usually without the rest of the world knowing, are making efforts on a daily basis to prevent further deterioration of nature, environment and general living standards.


Our global economy thrives on the fast cultivation of resources. We know that this is a 'race to the bottom' that we are not going to maintain for much longer. In countries like Argentina, India, Brazil and Indonesia, discrepancies between fast growth and exhaustion of the earth is most visible, but let's not pretend it's their problem: the Dutch and European economies are just as dependent on this model. It's about time we face the paradox of growing monetary wealth and the increasing number of social injustices and take our responsibility. The coming elections offer a perfect opportunity for our political parties to admit a serious chapter to their electoral program on their contribution to the transition to a real sustainable world economy.

Read more about this subject