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Weak Sustainability Trends in the Andean and Nordic Countries: A Historical Perspective

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Natural Resources and Divergence

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Economic History ((PEHS))


This chapter traces the main sustainability trends of the five countries analyzed in this book. The starting point is to understand sustainability as main measure of development, diminishing the role of GDP or Income. In order to address these concerns, the chapter utilizes mainstream indicators such as natural resources intensity and energy consumption, and adds new comprehensive measures of development-namely Genuine Savings and natural capital as in Blum et al. (National wealth what is missing, why it matters. Oxford University Press, 2017). The first part of the chapter presents a brief debate on what means sustainability in historical perspective and how it is related with the divergent paths between Andean and Nordic countries. The second part has a quantitative account on natural resources (as share on GNI) and a comparison between the available long run estimations of GS for Chile and Sweden plus figures for Norway, Bolivia and Peru. This synopsis shows the main gap between both regions in their approaches to sustainability in the long run.

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  1. 1.

    The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) gave several warnings on the difficulties to achieve the Paris Agreement regarding the 1.5 degrees goal (intergovernmental2018global).

  2. 2.

    The share of primary products in the export basket in 1900 was 99% in Bolivia, 98% in Chile, 100% in Peru, 86% in Norway and 59% in Sweden (Federico & Tena-Junguito, 2017).

  3. 3.

    The economic crisis provoked by the Pandemic in 2020 has not changed the minds of several policy makers, and GDP growth continues to be the main goal for Latin American experts. E.g. Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, (former Chief Economist of the OECD) in the newspaper “El Mercurio” affirmed that Chile needs a 4% growth rate to “Achieve development” Accessed September 23, 2020.

  4. 4.

    “Resources for the Future is a nonprofit corporation for research and education in the development, conservation, and use of natural resources” barnett2013scarcity.

  5. 5.

    “Our main effort, therefore, is directed to a thorough examination of the conceptual and empirical foundations of the doctrine of increasing natural resource scarcity and its effects” (Dickson et al., 2017).

  6. 6.

    Both meetings were held in 1972. The main publication from the Club of Rome meeting in 1972 was re-edited in 2012. Limits to Growth, the 30 year update (Donella H. Meadows et al., 1972).

  7. 7.

    A detailed description of this rule in (Asheim et al., 2003).

  8. 8. In this video, a brief description of the project (Accessed February 1, 2019).

  9. 9.

    “One is that the methods currently used to value the capital stocks involved – produced capital, natural capital, human capital, or several of them – do not measure the actual values of these stocks correctly” lindmark2018weak.

  10. 10.

    See (Hanley et al., 2015b) for a comprehensive review.

  11. 11.

    In the case of the green new deal, the extraordinary weather vents of 2018 has meant a noticeable resurgence of this idea (Barbier, 2019).

  12. 12.

    The prices fall had a greater impact in 2014 for Bolivia.

  13. 13.

    Some of these studies are being pursued by the project “Genuine Savings as a measure of sustainable development. Towards a GDP replacement”.


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Correspondence to Cristián Ducoing .

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Ducoing, C. (2021). Weak Sustainability Trends in the Andean and Nordic Countries: A Historical Perspective. In: Ducoing, C., Peres-Cajías, J. (eds) Natural Resources and Divergence. Palgrave Studies in Economic History. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-71043-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-71044-6

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