Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Rethinking an Approach for Sustainable Globalization

Written By

Parakram Pyakurel

Submitted: 28 April 2022 Reviewed: 03 May 2022 Published: 23 May 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.105141

From the Edited Volume

Globalization and Sustainability - Recent Advances, New Perspectives and Emerging Issues

Edited by Margherita Mori

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This chapter explores the complex interaction between globalization and sustainability and proposes an approach for sustainable globalization. Three dimensions of sustainability, namely environment, economy, and society, are taken into account. Firstly, interaction among globalization and environment is discussed. This interaction is characterized by analyzing the effects of globalization on energy and resources consumption, greenhouse gases emission, and local pollution. Then, the relationship between the existing green growth economic model and sustainability is examined in the context of globalization. Alternatives to the green growth model are also explored. Furthermore, implication of globalization on social sustainability is investigated by considering quality of life, urbanization, and equality. Existing knowledge gaps are discussed, and finally, an approach to sustainable globalization is presented based on holistic interactions among environment, economy, and society.


  • sustainable globalization
  • green growth
  • degrowth
  • greenhouse gases emission
  • pollution

1. Introduction

This chapter explores the relationship between globalization and sustainability and proposes an approach for sustainable globalization. There is an ongoing debate about the impacts of globalization on sustainability [1, 2] with arguments for both positive [3] and negative [4] impacts. An attempt is made in this chapter to advance this debate by proposing a framework for sustainable globalization. Interactions between globalization and sustainability are analyzed to tackle a complex question of whether globalization can be made sustainable.

The term sustainability is used here to refer to sustainable ecological systems that can be affected by factors such as resources consumption and pollution that impact biosphere functions [5]. The traditional three pillars [6] of sustainability, namely environmental, economic, and social pillars, are considered while also acknowledging that a primary core of sustainability is its concern for the well-being of the future generations [7]. Likewise, this chapter adopts the broad definition of globalization as a process that encompasses the causes, modalities, and consequences of transnational and transcultural integration of human and nonhuman activities [8]. Focus is given to economic and social components of globalization while also touching upon its political component.

Firstly, interaction between globalization and environment is examined by considering energy and resources consumption, greenhouse gases emission, and pollution (Section 2). Then, relationships of sustainability with the current green growth paradigm and alternative economic approaches are explored in the context of globalization (Section 3). Implication of globalization on social sustainability is then examined by taking into account the quality of life, urbanization, and social equality (Section 4). Based on the analyses of different interactions, existing knowledge gaps are discussed (Section 5). Then, an approach for sustainable globalization is proposed (Section 6), and finally, the conclusions are presented.


2. Globalization and the environment

There are several approaches to evaluate environmental sustainability. Environmental Performance Index has been used as a composite indicator to evaluate the state of sustainability of 180 countries by considering 11 issue categories [9]. These categories are air quality, sanitation and drinking water, heavy metals, waste management, biodiversity and habitat, ecosystem services, fisheries, climate change, pollution emission, water resources, and agriculture. Similarly, Environmental Performance Assessment Composite Index has been developed in [10] by combining three indices associated with natural resources, sustainable and efficient use of resources, and use of alternative resources. Likewise, six broad thematic categories—energy performance; waste management; air quality and pollution; water quality and pollution; land use, agriculture, and fisheries; and biodiversity, forests, and soils—have been proposed by [11] as indicators of environmental sustainability.

Ecological footprint is another common quantitative metric for measuring environmental sustainability. Basically, it is the amount of land, measured in global hectares, required to support a particular lifestyle [12]. Although the ecological footprint gives a valuable quantitative measure of environmental sustainability and enables comparisons of biocapacities of different nations, it does not take technological change and underground resources into account [13]. Furthermore, it does not take land degradation into account [14].

Based on the adaptations from abovementioned studies, this chapter characterizes environmental sustainability in three broad categories of energy and resources consumption, greenhouse gases emission, and pollution to evaluate the interactions between globalization and environmental sustainability.

2.1 Energy and resources consumption

Globalization has a potential to cause both increase and decrease in energy and resources consumption. Globalization can increase the applications of improved technologies in low- and middle-income nations that lead to higher process and energy efficiencies, eventually reducing the energy and resources consumption. Contrastingly, globalization could also support economic growth that requires higher energy and resources consumption [15].

A popular measure of globalization is the KOF Globalization Index (KOFGI), which measures globalization along the economic, social, and political dimensions for different countries [16]. The 10 most globalized nations based on KOFGI [17] are all high-income nations in Europe that also have very high energy consumption per capita [18]. However, the material footprints of these nations are decreasing over time with the exception of Sweden and Denmark [19]. Material footprint is one of indicators of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and refers to the total amount of raw materials extracted to meet final consumption demands [20]. It may be noted here that the 10 most globalized nations have material footprints higher than the global average, and the majority of them have footprints higher than the European Union average [19]. It is also noteworthy that 50 most globalized nations [17] are primarily high-income nations with a few upper middle-income nations such as Malaysia and Thailand [21].

Energy consumption of top Asian economies has been found to increase with globalization [22]. It has been reported that the physical quantities of goods traded internationally only represent one-third of the actual natural resources that were used to produce these traded goods [23]. Therefore, it can be argued that globalization is currently increasing energy and resources consumption.

2.2 Greenhouse gases emission

Globalization, evaluated in terms of KOFGI, has been shown to increase greenhouse gases (GHG) emission in European Union [24] and Japan [25]. On the other hand, globalization has been found to reduce GHG emission in emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey [26, 27] showing some evidence for Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis. This hypothesis states that an inverted-U-shaped relationship exists between different pollutants and per capita income, i.e., environmental pressure increases up to a certain level as income goes up and then decreases. The KEC hypothesis is based on a notion that environmental quality deteriorates at the early stages of economic development and subsequently improves at the later stages [28]. The hypothesis is that as the economic development occurs at the expense of the environment, average income of the population increases. Once the average income is sufficiently high, a turning point is reached where people start to value and take care of their local environment. Technological solutions and energy efficiency enabled by the economic growth then allow for improvement of the local environment, since people can afford to take care of the environment.

2.3 Pollution

Impacts of globalization on local pollution other than GHG emission are presented here. International trade has been found to contribute to significant portion of total air pollution, which is negatively impacting human health [29, 30, 31]. It has recently been estimated that almost everyone on Earth is affected by air pollution [32]. Likewise, globalization may also be contributing toward land degradation. For instance, clearance of native vegetation and land degradation across much of Latin America and Asia has been linked to agricultural expansion and intensification at a commercial scale for export markets [23]. Likewise, there is also an indication that international trades facilitated by globalization are causing higher water pollution in emerging economies such as China [33].

In the context of emerging economies, there are studies showing support for, as well as against, the EKC hypothesis. For instance, support for EKC hypothesis where environmental quality first degraded due to globalization and then improved after the average income became sufficiently high was reported in several Chinese cities by [34]. Contrarily, continued environmental degradation in China was found by [35] despite the average income being sufficiently high, thereby showing evidence against the EKC hypothesis.

Plastic pollution may also be affected by globalization. For instance, China banned the import of plastic waste in 2017 to tackle its plastic pollution problem [36]. Although many high-income nations have agreed to place a strict limit on export of plastic waste to poorer nations, American exporters are still exporting plastic wastes to poor nations [37]. This can cause significant plastic pollution in poor nations that import plastic wastes.


3. Globalization and economy

This section analyzes the interaction between the existing green growth economic model and sustainability in the context of globalization. Alternatives to green growth economic models are also explored.

3.1 Green growth paradigm

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has a green growth strategy set in place since 2011 [38]. The OECD views green growth as an approach to foster economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies [38]. The United Nations has a similar concept of green economy, which is a low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive economy. Growth in the green economy is driven by public and private investments based on the understanding that natural assets are critical economic assets [39]. An umbrella term “green growth” is adopted in this chapter to refer to any growth-based economic models.

Green growth assumes that economic growth can be decoupled from environmental pressures. In order to evaluate green growth, an approach to measure it has been proposed by comparing gross domestic product (GDP) with resources productivity [40]. Green growth is said to occur when percentage increase in resources productivity is higher than the percentage increase in GDP. For instance, if a country experiences a GDP growth of 2%, and its carbon productivity improves by 4%, the country displays green growth in the climate dimension [40]. Carbon productivity here is an example of resource productivity and is a measure of GHG emission reduction. Overall, green growth should reduce environmental pressure.

Economic components of globalization such as foreign direct investment and trade openness are promoted in OECD countries to accelerate green growth, and it has been found that these components help reduce GHG emission [41]. However, although the implementation of green growth has the tendency to reduce GHG emission [42], global GHG emission is expected to be record high as the world economy recovers from coronavirus [43]. For instance, both China and India surpassed their 2019 emission peaks in 2021. Chinese emission grew by 5.5% between 2019 and 2021, while Indian emission grew by 4.4% [43].

3.2 Alternative economic models

Critics of the green growth paradigm argue that empirical evidence on resource use and carbon emission does not support green growth theory [44]. It has been argued that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that absolute decoupling from resource use can be achieved on a global scale while continuing economic growth [44]. Consequently, alternatives to green growth have been explored. Degrowth and policies for social equity are examples of alternative to green growth [45].

Degrowth paradigm relies on a construct that continuous economic growth and ecological sustainability are incompatible. Therefore, it argues for reduced production and consumption. Likewise, policies for social equity (PSE) are based on a concept that inequality leads to environmental degradation. The PSE is actually a type of green growth with two added radical social policies, namely a job guarantee program and working time reduction [45]. Degrowth, on the other hand, contains the PSE but also argues for downscaling economy. While all the three economic models have their own advantages and disadvantages, simulations of green growth, PSE, and degrowth have shown degrowth model to be most effective in tackling environmental pressures [45].


4. Globalization and society

This section explores the interaction between globalization and society in the context of social sustainability. Three aspects of society, namely quality of life, urbanization, and equality, are considered.

4.1 Quality of life

In low-income nations, life expectancy has been positively correlated with globalization [46]. Likewise, quality of life measured in terms of human development index has been found to increase with globalization in several Asian countries [47]. At global scale, aggregate positive effect from globalization-related trade has been reported while also acknowledging disproportionate distributional concerns. The disproportionate concern is that globalization-related trade can lead to unemployment, reduced wages, and slower decline in poverty in some geographical regions and commercial sectors [48].

The overall effect of globalization on high-income, as well as low-income, nations is reported to be improved quality of life. Positive impacts include harmonization of the labor market, development of digital society [49], and reduced macroeconomic volatility due to diversification of risks.

4.2 Urbanization

Urbanization is primarily happening in low- and middle-income countries due to economic growth and globalization [50]. Benefits of urbanization are increase in employment opportunities, abundance of unskilled labor, and expansion of industrial, residential, entertainment, and commercial areas. Urbanization and trade openness can also reduce income inequality [51, 52], particularly when coupled with high institutional quality and democracy. However, a study in Africa has found that urbanization alone may not significantly impact equality in the absence of democratic reforms and institutional quality [52]. Institutional quality here refers to corruption control, law and order, and sound bureaucracy. On the flip side, disadvantages of urbanization include increased crime and land use change [50]. Farmland loss, ecological degradation, and decrease in biodiversity are some of the negative consequences of urbanization [53].

4.3 Equality

The relationship between equality and globalization is very complex. Generally, globalization increases inequality within a nation but decreases inequality between nations [54]. It can therefore be argued that the benefits of globalization have not reached everyone equally. There are also mixed relationships between income inequality and globalization with some countries seeing the benefit of globalization while others have not [55]. Statistical analyses have shown that social spending may not necessarily cushion the impact of inequality brought about by globalization [55]. Overall, better approach to globalization is needed to ensure that inequality does not rise due to globalization and outweigh its positive effects.


5. Knowledge gaps in sustainable globalization

Extensive and rigorous research is needed to understand the interactions between globalization and sustainability. The foremost question is whether globalization can be made sustainable. This chapter assumes that globalization can be made sustainable based on the synthesis of existing literature as mentioned in preceding sections and the author’s reflection. However, if future studies and empirical evidence categorically confirm that sustainable globalization is not possible, alternative models to globalization need to be investigated.

In order to tackle a complex question of whether globalization can be made sustainable or not, the following three unanswered questions need to be addressed:

5.1 How do big tech companies impact sustainability in the context of globalization?

Globalization allows multinational corporations, especially the big tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft (GAFAM) to have global influence and strongly affect environmental, economic, and social dimensions of global sustainability. From environmental standpoint, the big tech companies provide assistance to mining of fossil fuels through artificial intelligence and cloud technologies as previously reported by the author [56]. Cloud technology can reduce complexity of information collection and control time in the petroleum production processes. Likewise, artificial intelligence can improve the accuracy of identifying oil fields for effective mining. The assistance of big tech companies to fossil fuel industry raises questions about their commitment to renewable energy transition. On the other hand, GAFAM also have a potential to greatly facilitate renewable energy transition by the application of artificial intelligence and cloud computing. For instance, machine learning could improve the predictability of intermittent renewable energy resources. How should the GAFAM support environmental sustainability in a globalized world needs to be investigated thoroughly.

From economic sustainability viewpoint, the GAFAM could monopolize global markets of intangible assets and digital services [57] threatening economic sustainability. Intangible assets such as intellectual properties and services play major role in today’s global economy [58]. Another very important intangible asset is personal data of global population that GAFAM possess [59]. The GAFAM have been referred to as data-driven intellectual monopolies [57] as they have huge control over digital services and personal data of the global market. Their monopolization and opaque practices could severely harm small and local businesses [60]. On the other hand, the GAFAM have helped the booming of mobile software industry, created avenues for advertisers and ushered in a new generation of entrepreneurs including influencers, podcasters, and marketing experts [61]. Increased globalization will allow GAFAM to penetrate global market more strongly, and the impacts this will have on economic sustainability need to be examined.

Big tech companies also have massive impacts on social dimension of sustainability, particularly on quality of life, freedom, privacy, and equality. Lawsuits have been filed against several big tech companies [59] for possibly maintaining monopoly illegally. There are also testimonials from small and local businesses about how they fear Google more than the Government [60]. For instance, the Government could place limited amount of fine on a small business with minimal impact, but delisting from advertising by Google could mean that the business could go bankrupt, particularly given Google’s dominant market share on Internet searches. The arbitrary control of GAFAM over small businesses [60] could therefore lead to unemployment and freedom to independently run business. This could also greatly increase inequality where few people running the GAFAM have control on large population, and globalization could exacerbate this problem by allowing GAFAM to control more people than they already do. On the other hand, the big tech companies can also allow voices of common people to reach global audience and thereby empower people.

Privacy is another major threat to social sustainability posed by the GAFAM. They have contributed to global surveillance for US National Security Agency [57], and loss of privacy is a major concern with GAFAM. Globalization could enable the GAFAM to surveille more people around the world.

5.2 What is the role of globalization in the context of green growth versus degrowth debate?

Another important theme that needs detailed investigation is the role of globalization in advancing the green growth versus degrowth debate. For instance, can globalization support green growth model? Renewable energy and technology play central role in enabling green growth. Globalization could enhance the diffusion of technologies that reduce environmental pressures, but it is yet to be proven that growth can be universally sustained indefinitely. Therefore, a case for degrowth in high-income nations can be made, and it is necessary to understand how globalization could enable degrowth. Overall, it is necessary to investigate how globalization could enable the conflicting economic models of growth and degrowth in order to advance the green growth versus degrowth debate.

5.3 How can globalization maximize its benefits uniformly to environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability?

While globalization may have helped the economic growth of many low- and middle-income nations, globalization may also have contributed to increasing inequality within countries. Likewise, there is a perception that globalization is a threat to national sovereignty [62]. It has also been argued that globalization increases the propensity of obesity, particularly among women, in low- and middle-income nations [63]. From an environmental viewpoint, a study of 130 countries [64] found no significant relationship between globalization and environmental footprint.

All in all, there are positive as well as negative impacts of globalization, and further research is needed to investigate models of globalization that enhance environmental, economic, and social pillars of sustainability holistically.


6. Approach for sustainable globalization

It may not be possible to generalize the degree of globalization that is sustainable, and it is very likely that different countries need different degrees of globalization for sustainability. However, few basic principles could be adopted to decide on the degree of globalization as guidelines. This section proposes such guidelines as below for social, environmental, and economic dimensions of sustainability. A need for holistic approach is also highlighted.

6.1 Social sustainability guidelines

There are several crucial aspects [65] of social sustainability such as human rights, equity, justice, democracy, and health and safety that cannot be compromised. Adoption of any element of globalization should not negatively impact these crucial aspects even if the globalization has other benefits. Since globalization has complex interactions with society, it may not be possible to only have positive impacts from any element of globalization. However, an element of globalization should only be adopted if it has positive or neutral effects on human rights, equity, justice, democracy, and health and safety even if other aspects of social sustainability are compromised for trade-offs.

6.2 Environmental sustainability guidelines

Decision-making on the adoption of globalization from environmental sustainability perspective is not straightforward due to the nature of environmental impacts of globalization. Both positive and negative impacts of globalization on environment can be temporary and reversible. For instance, globalization can initially cause environmental degradation due to economic growth propelled by trade openness and foreign investments, but later lead to improved environment after the population has sufficiently increased average income and technical capabilities, thereby validating EKC hypothesis [66]. However, global study on EKC hypothesis is inconclusive [67] indicating the complex nature of interaction between economics, environment, and globalization. It has also been argued that while political and overall globalization improves the environment, economic globalization harms the environment [66].

In order to decide on the adoption of any element of globalization, it is first necessary to evaluate the immediate short-term and long-term positive and negative environmental effects. If short-term negative environmental impacts are identified, it is necessary to evaluate other benefits of creating the short-term negative impacts. In a situation where it is found that the short-term negative impacts are outweighed by benefits, for example, economic growth, it is necessary to identify future measures to reverse the short-term negative environmental impacts with a concrete timeframe. Therefore, careful planning is required by first evaluating whether the negative environmental impact can be reversed or not. If the negative environmental impact is reversible, the cost of reversing it needs to be weighed against the benefit of allowing it. The element of globalization may be adopted if the benefit outweighs the cost of reversing negative short-term environmental impact.

On the other hand, if the environmental impact is irreversible, it is necessary to analyze if this irreversibility compromises the livelihood, needs, and prosperity of future generations permanently. In a case where future generations need are severely compromised permanently, that element of globalization should not be adopted.

Availability and depletion rates (both in quality and quantity) of critical natural resources are other important environmental sustainability considerations. Although the current focus is primarily centered on reducing greenhouse gases emission by implementing renewable energy systems, the use of critical natural resources by these systems cannot be neglected. Renewable energy systems require huge amounts of rare earths and other minerals such as lithium, nickel, copper, manganese, cobalt, etc., and these minerals exist only in fixed quantities on Earth. A typical electric car needs six times the mineral inputs of a conventional fossil fuel car, and an onshore wind plant needs nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant [68]. From a globalization perspective, it is noteworthy that minerals required by renewable energy systems are concentrated in small geographic areas unlike fossil fuels. For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was responsible for 70% of cobalt production, and China was responsible for 60% of rare earth minerals production in 2019 [68]. China alone has nearly 90% share in refining of rare earth minerals [68] such as neodymium, terbium, indium, dysprosium, and praseodymium that are required for solar photovoltaics and wind energy systems. Since critical natural resources for renewable energy are concentrated in small geographical areas, monopolization of the supply chain of these resources by few multinational corporations and nations is a real threat that needs to be addressed with urgency. This is particularly important as major fossil fuel monopolies—BP, Shell, Chevron, Total, Eni, and Exxon—are heavily investing in renewable energy [69]. Fossil fuel industry has held tremendous political power in the United States and globally [70], and if this same industry is again allowed to monopolize the new fuel, i.e., critical natural resources required for renewable energy, what are the implications for sustainability? There is an urgent need to critically tackle this question. All in all, globalization needs to tackle any potential monopolization issues associated with renewable energy systems in order to be sustainable.

Impacts of globalization on plastic pollution and e-waste are another major environmental consideration. Adoption of any element of globalization that increases plastic pollution and e-waste needs very careful cost–benefit analysis.

6.3 Economic sustainability guidelines

Green growth versus degrowth debate is still unsolved, and therefore, every country might first need to rethink whether it wants to follow green growth, degrowth, or another economic paradigm before planning its degree of globalization.

In a scenario where a country chooses green growth, a clear time-bound pathway to decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures needs to be formulated. Environmental pressure should not be measured only in terms of GHG emission but also in terms of air pollution, loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution, stress on freshwater resources, depletion of critical natural resources, land degradation, and other pertinent local pollution. In the context of globalization, a country also needs to decide if it will import products and fuels produced unsustainably from other countries to sustain its economic growth. Economic sustainability cannot be achieved if a country does not produce environmentally detrimental products and fuels on its own country but imports them from other countries, especially from low- or middle-income nations where the products and fuels were produced unsustainably.

For low-income nations with high poverty where rudimentary amenities such as food, water, shelter, and access to basic healthcare are lacking for significant number of people, economic growth propelled by globalization may be adopted even if it causes short-term environmental degradation. This is because if the preservation of present generation is being threatened by poverty and lack of basic survival needs, there cannot be any sustainability or perhaps even future generation. By the same reasoning, poor nations could also adopt infrastructural development enabled by globalization even if there is a short-term environmental damage although it may not be possible to compromise potential long-term and irreversible environmental degradation. It may be noted here that the author is not advocating for short-term reversible environmental degradation for poverty alleviation but only opining that this may be permitted as a last resort if poverty alleviation through economic growth cannot be achieved with zero environmental consequences.

On the other hand, high- and middle-income nations need to strongly embed environmental and natural resources protections in their green growth models. Circular economy may allow green growth to sustain indefinitely although this is debatable. Ideally, circular economy is a regenerative system with no waste and pollution. In a linear economy, a product finally becomes a waste, and manufacturing processes also produce wastes that need disposal. Contrastingly, circular economy uses wastes as resources by creating a cyclical regenerative system that can theoretically be sustained indefinitely. It is highly debatable whether circular economy can be sustained indefinitely with zero negative environmental consequence and yet allow growth because a stable system typically remains unchanged and does not grow indefinitely. However, many believe that circular economy can sustain economic growth indefinitely, and the European Union has a circular economy action plan [71]. Even if the circular economy may not sustain green growth indefinitely, it certainly reduces environmental pressures, and therefore, every economic globalization program should embed circular economy wherever applicable.

It could very well be possible that green growth cannot be sustained indefinitely in high-income nations without importing products and fuels that were produced unsustainably elsewhere. Consequently, high-income nations may need to rethink degrowth or other novel economic paradigms in the context of globalization. Social elements of globalization such as tourism, cultural and technological exchanges, and digital services may allow people in high-income nations to maintain existing quality of life without economic growth or even degrowth. For instance, high-income nations could reduce infrastructural development but rather focus on trading digital services with middle- and low-income nations to maintain its living standards. This is an underinvestigated topic, and further research on how globalization could allow the maintenance of quality of life without economic growth in high-income nation is needed.

6.4 Holistic approach

Holistic approach that takes into social, environmental, and economic dimensions of sustainability collectively is needed in order to devise a sustainable globalization approach. Basic human rights and equality are prerequisites for sustainability and globalization should either have positive or neutral impacts on these prerequisites for sustainability. Likewise, globalization should not enable irreversible long-term environmental impacts that reduce opportunities of future generations to prosper or maintain the quality of life that the present generation has.

Globalization cannot be sustainable if one country prospers at the expense of other countries. Therefore, sustainable globalization should enhance water, energy, and food security globally. Additionally, sustainable globalization should empower people and reduce inequality. Although, globalization requires agreements and laws that countries follow, sustainable globalization should not impinge on autonomy of any country. More specifically, sustainable globalization should not allow giant multinational companies and big tech corporations to be more powerful than any sovereign nation as this is a real risk (see Section 5).

It may not be possible for sustainable globalization to only have benefits with no negative implications at a practical level. Hence, trade-offs need to be evaluated by every country to decide on the degree of globalization it can sustainably adopt. To this end, it is necessary to realize that certain aspects of sustainability cannot be compromised. These include social aspects such as human rights, reduced inequality, livelihood, democracy, health, and safety. These also include environmental aspects such as irreversible environmental degradations that imminently threaten livelihood of present generation or reduce the ability of future generation to thrive and prosper. Once it is ascertained that globalization does not negatively impact the uncompromisable environmental and social aspects of sustainability, other trade-offs need to be evaluated. Since the priorities of every country can be different, these trade-offs evaluations cannot be generalized.


7. Conclusions

This chapter examines the impacts of globalization on sustainability by considering the environmental, economic, and social pillars of sustainability. Globalization can have positive as well as negative effects on different aspects of sustainability, underscoring the complex nature of interactions between globalization and sustainability. There are several knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to make globalization sustainable. These include questions regarding roles of big tech and multinational companies to enhance sustainability, globalization in the context of green growth versus degrowth debate, and better understanding of how disproportionate impacts (both positive and negative) of globalization can be minimized. Finally, an approach for sustainable globalization is proposed by identifying several environmental and social aspects of sustainability that cannot be compromised by globalization even if it offers huge economic and other benefits.



The author would like to thank the reviewers and the editor for their valuable feedback in improving the chapter.


Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Written By

Parakram Pyakurel

Submitted: 28 April 2022 Reviewed: 03 May 2022 Published: 23 May 2022