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The Polluter Pay Principle and the damage done: controversies for sustainable development


  • Emaculate INGWANI

    () (Ethiopian Civil Service College, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

  • Tendayi GONDO

    () (University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa)

  • Trynos GUMBO

    () (University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa)


In search for equity at the Rio summit, it was suggested that in case of pollution or any other environmentally negative effect, the costs are inflicted on the responsible agents to pay for the rectification. The Polluter Pay Principle (PPP) has since then been touted as a useful environmental management tool that makes provisions for innovative penalties seeking to place the burden of environmental pollution control on those that abuse the environment. Despite such euphoria, the results on the ground have been appalling. In this analysis we question the practical utility of the PPP viz avis the deteriorating environmental fabric of many nations. The analysis reveals that it is cheaper for many individuals, organizations or even countries to pollute the environment and pay a fine than to install systems that require the constant monitoring of the environment. Emphasis of the PPP is misplaced as it focuses on curing damages and not on the process that brings the environmental problems to a halt. Its implementation is further constrained by the difficulty associated with placing a price tag on environment parameters. We recommend a proactive alternative to PPP that emphasize on preventative measures through environmental education. The success of such a management strategy is however not spontaneous as it needs to be rooted upon an effective system of values, institutions, attitudes, personal commitment, self confidence and active participation of all individuals in managing and detecting environmental problems that affect them.

Suggested Citation

  • Emaculate INGWANI & Tendayi GONDO & Trynos GUMBO, 2010. "The Polluter Pay Principle and the damage done: controversies for sustainable development," Economia. Seria Management, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 13(1), pages 53-60, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:rom:econmn:v:13:y:2010:i:1:p:53-60

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    Polluter Pay Principle; pollution cost; environment and development; sustainable development;

    JEL classification:

    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth


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