II. The challenges we face - Interlocking dimensions of the crisis
14. The interlocking dimensions of the crisis can only be shown by some
examples. As a first illustration we choose the connection between economic
injustice and deforestation in the Amazon region. The debt crisis severely
affects Brazil. A large part of the debt was incurred by military spending
and was partly used to develop the Brazilian arms industry. Efforts to
repay the debts particularly harm the poor. The failure to implement land
reform has meant that settlers move into the rain forest. The way of life
of the indigenous population is severely disrupted and threatened. Transnational
corporations too have bought up large areas of forest which they clear.
This has lead to a dramatic loss of genetic resources. Burning of wood
has a damaging effect on the world's atmosphere.
15. As a second illustration we refer to the refugee crisis involving
millions of people. War has forced many to flee their countries. Civil
wars have caused internal displacement. In the Horn of Africa, war and
environmental degradation have destroyed the basis for life for large sectors
of the population. Neighbouring countries, which are themselves poor, are
forced to receive hundreds of thousands of refugees. The numbers accepted
by European countries are very small by comparison.
16. The issue of population is a further example of this linkage. Unbalanced
and unstable population growth and distribution aggravates poverty and hunger,
social conflict and damage to the environment. While the rich countries have
relatively stable populations, they consume the majority of available energy
resources. Poor countries, with rapidly growing populations suffer from a shortage
of energy resources and are forced to meet their energy needs in manners that
are destructive to the environment. The question of dealing with population
growth needs to be approached in a responsible manner that both respects the
conscience of persons and takes into account the social and environmental dimensions
of these interconnected problems.
17. A final aspect must be stressed - namely that injustice, war and environmental
damage affect women more directly and drastically than men. Women are half of
humanity, who bear the main burden of the current crisis. As a consequence of
this, children are also severely affected and victimized. The oppression of
women and violation of women's rights have been overlooked to an alarming degree.
Women are marginalized and excluded from decision-making structures. Sexism
is a contributing factor of the global crisis. The term "feminisation of poverty"
clearly expresses the way in which the cost is unfairly distributed. For women
in the South, at the edge of subsistence, this is literally a matter of life