The concept of sustainable development has been popularized since the late 1980s as a way of synthesizing the seemingly juxtaposed exigencies of socio-economic development and protection of the natural environment (WCED, 1987). However, the debate on how to implement models of socio-economic development while safeguarding the stability of ecosystems for current and future generations has remained highly controversial and essentially unresolved (for an overview see Jacobs, 1999). The global ecological situation has worsened considerably since the Rio Summit in 1992, which was heralded by many – both in governments and civil society – as the beginning of the era of global environmental governance. The climate crisis has become much more acute, biodiversity loss has accelerated, and the exploitation of natural resources has substantially intensified, the latter caused by increasing demand from industrialized and, more recently, also high-growth emerging countries (see Dittrich et al., 2012). Against this background, the debate on how to reconcile socio-economic development with the ecological integrity of the planet has become more polarized. While with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, the concept of sustainable development has on paper become the guiding principle for the international development agenda of the coming decade, the trade-off between economic development and ecological sustainability has not been addressed, as indeed no consensus exists how to reconcile economic development with environmental protection. Two poles have emerged in the recent debate on environmental sustainability: one calling for a socio-ecological transformation towards a degrowth society (see Jackson, 2009), and the other believing in the possibility of ‘greening’ capitalism or ‘ecological modernization’ via the monetization of nature and technological innovation without necessarily abandoning economic growth (Mol et al., 2009). Under the latter approach, the path towards ecological modernization is portrayed as a technical process supported by sound science and effective economic

policy-making. Socio-ecological conflicts are typically seen as temporary and solvable via monetary compensation, the main impetus needed is determined political leadership by governments (e.g. OECD, 2011; UNEP, 2011). Against this, governments in the Global South stress their right to development and, hence, the priority of economic growth over environmental protection. The responsibility of implementing policies against climate change and other threats to the integrity of ecosystems is passed to industrialized countries, since the current state of environmental problems is attributed to the development trajectories of the industrialized countries during the last 200 years. Here again, environmental protection is implicitly understood as essentially a technical problem that can be resolved with appropriate policies. In contrast, I shall argue in the remainder of this chapter that at the core of this debate lies a fundamental societal conflict – not just of short-term benefits and costs, but of modes of production and consumption. On the one hand, there is a conflict between actors in the Global North and South who argue in favour of continuing a growth-oriented development trajectory – complemented by selective environmental policies – and those that reject the idea of ‘greening’ capitalism and aim at breaking with the growth paradigm and establishing alternative economic and social models that reconcile human life with natural limits. On the other hand, there is a conflict within the ‘developmentalist camp’, that is, between social actors and governments in the Global North, who aim at maintaining the “imperial mode of living” of the advanced industrialized countries (Brand and Wissen, 2012), and actors in the Global South, particularly in the emerging economics, who strive towards levels of material welfare akin to the advanced industrialized countries by way of high-growth late development trajectories. With limited planetary resources, access to resources in order to maintain and pursue high growth trajectories becomes a matter of competition. Under these conditions, conceptions of what constitutes fairness in terms of access and utilization of resources is not straightforward, since all actors typically refer to some a priori plausible normative claims. In this chapter I, first, give an overview of the debate on socio-economic development and environmental protection, juxtaposing environmentalist and developmentalist approaches that are both legitimated with normative claims. The profound differences between these approaches are the main reasons for the limited progress in international environmental politics. I challenge the discussion from a fairness perspective, as both perspectives tend to shy away from explicitly discussing lines of conflict at different levels which crucially impact on fairness outcomes. I proceed by, second, introducing an alternative framework for resource fairness based on the work of Nancy Fraser. Third, this framework is adapted for the purpose of resources with the help of two concepts from institutional economics in order to account for the peculiar qualities of resource extraction. These concepts are Karl William Kapp’s notion of social costs and Erich

Zimmermann’s functional theory of resources. In the conclusion, I finalize the discussion by making suggestions on what would constitute steps towards a fairer distribution of the benefits and costs of resource extraction from the perspective of political economy. For matters of simplification, I follow Rawls (1958) in using the terms ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’ interchangeably.