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The relationship between poverty and environmental degradation is one of the more contentious areas of sustainable development. The conventional view, often dating back to colonial attitudes, has been that the poor are to blame for environmental degradation. To a great extent this standpoint has been implicitly or explicitly supported by development agencies such as the World Bank and United Nations (UN) and the findings of key development forums, such as the UN-appointed World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), which, in its 1987 report Our Common Future, brought to the fore the close causal links between environmental change and poverty:

[M]any parts of the world are caught in a vicious downward spiral; poor people are forced to overuse environmental resources to survive from day to day, ...

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