For the ecological effects of European expansion see Ecological imperialism.
Eco-imperialism is a term coined by Paul Driessen to refer to the forceful imposition of Western environmentalist views on developing countries. The degree to which this imposition actually occurs is a topic of debate, as is whether such imposition (if it occurs) would be ethically justifiable.
In his book Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death environmental skeptic and free-market advocate Paul Driessen argues that like the European imperialists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, today's eco-imperialists keep developing countries destitute for the benefit of the developed world.
By advocating for the precautionary principle, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development, Driessen claims, environmental groups legitimize their demands on government but often engender poverty and death in the process. Driessen also asserts that environmentalists' demands can sometimes cause environmental degradation.
Driessen's arguments are similar to those of environmental skeptic Bjørn Lomborg.
Some commentators maintain that eco-imperialism has a racial dimension, and occurs when environmentalists place the well-being of the environment over the well-being of humans, particularly non-whites, living in developing countries. Roy Innis, chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality has argued that European Union restrictions on the use of the pesticide DDT to combat malaria are ‘killing black babies’. Environmental historian Ramachandra Guha has accused 'authoritarian biologists' of valuing the protection of endangered species over the well-being of local people in India and other developing countries.
Environmentalists have responded to this criticism by arguing that a healthy environment--and the regulations needed to sustain it--is a necessary part of raising global standards of living. The concept of sustainable development was developed in the 1970s to honor developing countries' desire for economic growth while also protecting the environment.
Environmentalists have also argued that many of the problems facing developed countries, such as climate change, also pose significant or even greater threats to developing countries and thus warrant a global response. They also point out that the supposed solutions to problems of global hunger, such as the growing of genetically modified crops, fail to address (and in some cases actually exacerbate) the more fundamental problems of poverty and environmental degradation that created hunger in the first place.