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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 February 2005, 18:22 GMT
"How I'd change the world..."
The future generation has an unenviable task: tomorrow they must tackle the environmental problems we are creating today. Ahead of the Kyoto treaty coming into force, we asked seven young people from around the world how they would do things differently.

Alex Lin
Alex Lin
11, USA

Aparna Bhasin
Aparna Bhasin
17, India

William Roper
William Roper
17, UK

Jean-Christophe Martel
JC Martel
17, Canada

Analiz Vergara
Analiz Vergara
16, Ecuador

Shoko Takahashi
Shoko Takahashi
14, Japan

Yvonne Maingey
Yvonne Maingey
17, Kenya

Georgina Viveash
15, UK

William Roper

William Roper
The free market works, but it works with money as the bottom line
I think the eradication of poverty will not be done helpfully if we don't do it in a sustainable way.

One of the ways we can alleviate poverty is through trade. But I don't think free trade is helping.

The problem with free trade is that there is nothing in it for the environment - the bottom line is entirely monetary.

On a global scale, I think counties which are developing now should be encouraged not to go down the traditional industrial routes, but should try to make a fresh start and go straight onto more sustainable ways of living.

And I think developing counties should not be forced into free trade, because in order to be competitive everything needs to be big - and often that is harmful to the environment.

World leaders should not be encouraging large oil companies. They should be trying to slow their use of fossil fuels and pressing people quite hard to use green alternatives.

Money is the logic for people - but you need to prioritise that against other things.

I don't think people are doing this sort of thing maliciously - they are trying to maximise profits - which is what they are supposed to do. But they have to have an awareness of other priorities.

I think this a job for the government - it shouldn't let free market run wild.

The free market works, but it works with money as the bottom line. But I think people should be forced to have other bottom lines - if they are going beneath an environmental standard they have sanctions placed upon them which makes them unable to operate.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

I agree with William on profit maximisation. I often remind my students that 'profit motive' is a product of human thinking and not God given, a thing we often forget to teach in management schools. As for free trade, I wonder if all the employees of call centres (or any other jobs that are relocating to lower wage areas) in developed nations are favourably disposed to 'Free Trade?' Developed and developing nations alike need to re-think free trade.
Mridula Dwivedi, New Delhi, India

I totally agree. Now that I am old enough to manage my lifestyle, spending habits etc, in a socially-aware way, I am astonished at how many barriers to greener living are thrown up for the sake of money. If we all worried a little bit less about the money and a little bit more about the impact each and every one of us has on the environment, we as consumers could exert an extraordinary influence on the free market.
Dave Wright, Swindon, UK

Actually, William's views are exactly opposite of the facts. According to the end of year 2004 World Bank report, poverty around the world is declining, prosperity increasing. The reason, capitalism and globalisation. William needs to do more research before he is ready for prime time.
W. H. Langeman, New Orleans, La, USA


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