La riqueza perdida de las naciones

La frase "desarrollo sustentable" es de uso común pero los analistas económicos no ofrecen una guía de cómo se puede juzgar si, en efecto, el desarrollo económico de un país es sustentable.

El famoso informe de la Comisión Brundtland de 1987 definió desarrollo sustentable como "...desarrollo que satisface las necesidades actuales sin comprometer la posibilidad de las generaciones futuras de cumplir sus propios requerimientos". En consecuencia, el desarrollo sustentable requiere que, de acuerdo con su población, cada generación debe legar a sus sucesores, al menos la misma base productiva que recibió. ¿Pero cómo puede una generación determinar si la base productiva que está dejando es suficiente?

Los economistas dicen que la medida correcta de la base productiva de una economía es su riqueza, la cual no sólo incluye el valor de sus bienes manufacturados (edificios, maquinaria, carreteras), sino también el capital "humano" (conocimiento, habilidades y salud); capital natural (ecosistemas, minerales y combustibles fósiles); e instituciones (gobierno, sociedad civil, Estado de derecho). El desarrollo es sustentable en tanto que la riqueza de una economía con relación a su población se mantenga en el tiempo. En otras palabras, el crecimiento económico debe ser visto como crecimiento en términos de riqueza, no como crecimiento del PNB.

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