chapter  9
16 Pages

Cities and environmental sustainability in the developing world

The children work in poorly ventilated sheds, the air thick with wool fluff, for up to 18 hours a day. Child carpet makers lose their eyesight. Others get problems with their legs from sitting all day in cramped conditions. In the quarries, children get maimed. We are talking about a whole generation being damaged. (Action Aid, 1992: 4)

Recent reports by Amnesty International and the media about the execution of street children in Brazilian cities by police 'death squads' to 'clean up' the urban environment are just one extreme example highlighting the perceptions held by urban municipalities over the causes of environmental degradation and aesthetic blight. In the first half of 1993 alone, Amnesty International reported that 320 homeless children had been executed in Rio de Janeiro in a campaign which regarded homeless children as unwanted 'pests'. In this, and many other instances, it is the vulnerable victims of poverty who are seen by urban governments to be the cause of urban environmental degradation.