Le Patrimoine perdu des nations

L’expression « développement durable » est un lieu commun, mais les experts économiques n’offrent aucune analyse sur la façon dont on peut juger si le développement économique d’une nation est, en fait, durable ou pas.

Le célèbre rapport de la Commission Brundtland publié en 1987 définit le développement durable comme « … un développement qui répond aux besoins du présent sans hypothéquer la capacité des générations futures à répondre à leurs propres besoins ». Le développement durable requiert donc que, selon sa population, chaque génération lègue à la génération suivante une base de production au moins aussi importante que celle qu’elle reçut elle-même. Comment une génération peut-elle donc juger si elle laisse derrière elle une base de production adéquate ?

Les économistes expliquent que la mesure appropriée de la base de production d’une économie est son patrimoine, ce qui comprend non seulement la valeur des biens manufacturés (bâtiments, machines, routes), mais également le capital « humain » (les connaissances, les aptitudes et la santé), le capital naturel (les écosystèmes, les minerais et les combustibles fossiles) et les institutions (gouvernement, société civile, primauté du droit). Le développement est durable tant que qu’une économie maintient dans la durée son patrimoine économique par rapport à sa population. En d’autres termes, la croissance économique devrait être considérée comme une croissance de patrimoine et non pas une croissance de PIB.

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