Book review : The Plundered Planet


Here is a review of a book I finished in February. After reading Crossing The Energy Divide, I started right away  The Plundered Planet by Paul Collier, a professor of Economics at Oxford who worked for the World Bank.

This is the sequel of The Bottom Billion, which was published in 2007 and explained why some countries fail at reaching economic growth, preventing people to have access to food, water and electricity…

The Plundered Planet offers an interesting discussion on what is referred in economics and sustainability as the resource curse, a critical factor for least developed countries.

The management of natural resources is crucial for them as most often the extraction of their oil / natural gas / diamonds / ores do NOT benefit the local communities but only a thin minority of people that are governing them.

Paul Collier outlines here realistic solutions to enable these countries to benefit from their resources, and thus achieve development.

The author also tackles the tragedy of the commons, which plagues global fish reserves and so on.

Even if getting out of poverty these 1.5 billion people (or so) seems like a daunting task, Paul Collier believes this could be done by several measures outlined in this book.

Among these innovative solutions are :

international standards that would help poor countries rich in natural assets better manage those resources,

policy changes that would raise world food supply,

Furthermore, Paul Collier also tackles climate change and is a firm believer that we should set up a carbon tax that would be paid to help achieve both mitigation and adaptation.

Three formulas sum up the book :

  • Nature – Technology + Regulation = Starvation,
  • Nature + Technology – Regulation = Plunder,
  • Nature + Technology + Regulation (Good governance) = Prosperity.

To conclude : I recommend you reading this book if you are interested in solving the social part of sustainable development, and enable the Bottom Billion to get out of their huge poverty.

Going further :

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