INES International Congress

Workshop 3.4


* 10 to 12 people participated into the workshop debate, coming from 6 countries : Colombia, Egypt, France, Mexico, Tunesia, United States. * Written contributions had been prepared in advance, and implemented on the Web, under the address . Thus, conveners and speakers had the possibility to deliver only a résumé of their paper and the debate was deeper and richer.
These contributions have dealt with the general analysis of unequal development (Marc Ollivier, Samir Amin, Hakim Benhamouda) as well as with concrete examples of its consequences, especially in Tunesia (Abdeljelil Bedoui) and Mexico (Olga Lopez), and in the field of natural ressources management (Grigori Lazarev). The strong link with political context has been stressed (Abraham Serfaty) and the impact on Science and Technology analysed in the general North-South context (Martine Barrère) and in the Latin America context (Ana Maria Cetto).
The workshop conclusions have been elaborated through a general discussion at the end of which a complete consensus has been achieved.
They are presented hereafter:

The Facts

Unequal development generates rapidly growing economical, social and political distorsions in our world, which are hurting millions of men, women and children throughout the world and which are made evident in the UN statistical data1.
These growing inequalities are accompanied by a destructive process of social exclusion, parallel to an active process of capital concentration2.

The workshop participants agree totally with Minister Jan Pronk's statement that these distorsions, and especially the destructive social exclusion process, are the main threat to sustainability, because they are at the roots of many dangerous conflicts, and particularly because they are preventing a great majority of human beings to share the social responsibility of building a collective sustainable future for mankind. Finally these distorsions create an explosive gap between the exponential development of Science and Technology and the rapidly growing sufferings and marginalization of a great majority of the people throughout the world.

Analysis of these facts

For the workshop participants, these facts are the result of the deep tendancies and dynamic trends which characterize the present state of development of the capitalist socio-economic system, where the interests and logics of the Multi National Corporations (MNCs) and of the financial and speculative capital are the dominant ones.

This critical evolution is being exacerbated by the fact that this system has no more space for its expansion, no more reservoirs to draw from, and thus is shifting from an open to a close system.


The workshop participants agreed with three main orientations as regards their recommendations :
  1. - Some kinds of regulating means, including international conventions, or new institutions should be established, aiming at specific necessary measures like the following ones :
    - regulation of capital flows, in particular by the creation of a multilaterally controlled capital market, and by controlling the illegal financial activities (suppression of the so called " tax havens ") ;
    - abolition of international debts not linked with productive sector activities, and establishment of the " TOBIN tax " (low tax on international capital flows) to limit speculative transactions and to fund international plans for environmental actions and infrastructural investments (international " New Deal ") .
  2. - On the other hand, it is necessary to support the empowerment of local, regional and national communities in order to enhance corresponding productive activities, as well as the re-insertion of all excluded people and to help them to recover partnership capacities in view of controlling their relationship with the international market, and contributing to an interdependant regulation of this market.
  3. - As regards Scientists and Engineers responsibilities, the workshop participants agreed with the following points :

    - at the global level, Science and Technology activities are deeply limited by unequal development processes. They achieved impressive successes, but show also tremendous failures. Particularly, much more has to be done in the field of human and social problems.
    - all peoples must have access to the development of Science and Technology, every one with its own culture and creativity, because the whole mankind has to be associated in the collective and challenging effort necessary to recover sustainability. In addition, socially efficient use of available technologies is strongly dependent on progress of democracy.

    - it is necessary to pay a larger attention to the empirical and historical knowledge of all communities and peoples, especially in the field of Science and Technology. Not only this knowledge still plays a major role in the present survival capacities of many people, but they can provide a large amount of inputs in the process of maintaining the sustainability of our world.

Amsterdam, August 25th, 1996
Ana Maria Cetto and Marc Ollivier
workshop co-conveners


  1. The poorest 20% of the world population received in 1988 only 0,5% of the world income, whereas the richest 20% received 80%. This gap is growing wider with time : in the sixties, the poorest 20% were producing 2,3% of the world GNP, but only 1,4% in 1989, whereas the richest 20% increased from 70.2% to 82.7%.

  2. Between 1980 and 1992, the business of Multi National Corporations (MNC) went from 2400 to 5500 billions US$. In 1994 they numbered an estimate 37000 umbrella MNCs that controlled 200000 branches the world over, and held 33% of the world's assets when they only employed 5% of its manpower. In the same time, 35 million active individuals do not have work in the OECD countries, another large proportion are in precarious situations, whereas in Southern Countries most active individuals try to survive, largely unemployed or underemployed, in the informal sector of huge megapolis. According to the 1993 World Bank report, 1.1 billion men -one fifth of humanity- live in absolute poverty (and therefore are excluded from any social involvement) , with total resources amounting to less than 1 dollar per day.

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