Toward a Socially Sustainable Haiti: The Path Forward

By Jennifer Loomis, Janeth Mosquera Becerra and Veronica Dujon.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As Latin America’s poorest nation, Haiti has myriad problems that undermine its social sustainability: degradation of the natural environment, marginal social and political infrastructure, high rates of poverty and illiteracy and a faltering economy. International interventions, economic embargoes, unfavourable trade agreements, political instability and governmental corruption have plagued the Haitian people for generations and have contributed to the massive foreign debt that handicaps Haiti’s ability to provide basic necessities for its people. This paper reviews recent social, environmental and economic conditions which have created and defined decades of extreme deprivation in Haiti with the purpose of identifying the social infrastructure, institutions and processes that would be required for a more sustainable, resilient and thriving society. The paper is informed by a framework of social sustainability as well as Sen’s human development concept and relies on secondary data to develop a critical theoretical argument to understand the Haitian experience. The paper incorporates a discussion of how the assets and potential evident in Haiti can be promoted in the interest of its sustainability and concludes with an exploration of whom, and/or what agencies, internal or external, should shape the objectives and process of implementation.

Keywords: Haiti, Social Sustainability, Human Development, Environment, Resilience, Foreign Aid, Caribbean

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.195-208. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 254.957KB).

Jennifer Loomis

Doctoral Student, Sociology, Portland State University, Oregon, USA

Jennifer Loomis is a PhD student at Portland State University. She received her MA in Sociology from Colorado State University. Her research has taken her to Central and South America where she examined natural resource management and participatory community organizations. She has also published on the experiences of mothers in the aftermath of disaster. Her current research focuses on health system reform in the United States.

Janeth Mosquera Becerra

Doctoral Student, Sociology, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia

Janeth Mosquera Becerra received her bachelor’s degree from the Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia, and then she got two masters, one in Social Work from the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco in Brazil and another in Epidemiology from the Universidad del Valle. Currently, she is working on her PhD in Sociology (Social Inequalities and Health) at Portland State University and she is now professor at the Public Health School at the Universidad del Valle. She focuses on urban environments and health.

Prof. Veronica Dujon

Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA

Veronica Dujon received her bachelor’s degree from the University of the West-Indies, Barbados. She received her master’s and PhD degrees in Land Resources/Sociology in 1995, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is now Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Portland State University. Dujon teaches, conducts research and publishes in the areas of environmental sociology with a focus on contests over declining natural resources; sociology of globalization; women in the global economy; and the tensions between national development strategies and forces of globalization. One of her major research interest areas is how to build socially sustainable societies. Among her publications are an article entitled “Local Actors, Nation States, and Their Global Environment: Conceptualizing Successful Resistance to the Anti-Social Impacts of Globalization” (Critical Sociology, 2002), and an edited volume Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability [Routledge 2009] on which she is a co-editor. In this volume she has a chapter entitled: “In the Absence of Affluence: The Struggle for Social Sustainability in the Third World.”