This editorial provides an overview of the roots of environmental justice movement and scholarship. It identifies emerging frontiers of environmental justice research and introduces the contributions of this special issue. Finally, we call for further research on the role of the state in environmental justice struggles and for more participatory methodologies in environmental justice research.
Environmental justice concepts have undergone significant changes from being solely distributive to include underlying power asymmetries. Consequently, we are now faced with a wide array of different interpretations of what environmental justice is. This calls for a fundamental reflection on what environmental justice stands for, how and most importantly why it is used. To achieve this goal, this paper elaborates on the genesis of environmental justice. Recurring challenges of environmental justice research and activism will be identified. Addressing those challenges, as well as breaking down environmental justice concepts into smaller patterns and Fleck'sian thought styles, the Environmental Justice Incom-mensurabilities Framework (EJIF) is introduced. This evaluation and monitoring tool encourages actors (and especially researchers) to reflect upon ideological positionings and axiological interpretations of human-environment relations as well as justice, making research on and with environmental justice more transparent and comparable.
Environmental justice research and activism predominantly focus on openly conflictive situations; claims making is central. However, situations of injustice can still occur even if there is no overt conflict. Environmental Justice and Soy Agribusiness fills this gap by applying an environmental justice incommensurabilities framework to reveal the mechanisms of why conflicts do not arise in particular situations, even though they fall within classic environmental justice schemes. Empirically, the case study focus is on the remote soy frontier in Northwest Argentina, particularly the town of Las Lajitas as the nucleus of soy production. This represents an excellent example of the recent expansion of the soy agribusiness industry in Latin America. First, a classic environmental justice analysis is carried out. Second, and drawing on the epistemological works of Ludwik Fleck, an alternative analytical framework is proposed, visualising locals’ thought styles on change, effects and potential conflict in relation to soy agribusiness. Here, visceral elements and the application of a jazz methodology are vital for a more holistic form of multisensory cognition. Third, incommensurabilities among the classic and alternative approach are uncovered, arguing for the importance of temporal and spatial contexts in environmental justice research.
Das Wasserkraftwerk Belo Monte ist Sinnbild einer Entwicklungspolitik Brasiliens, die durch kapitalistische Expansion die Erschließung und Inwertsetzung des Amazonasgebietes fördert. Über die komplexen Mechanismen und Wirkungen der damit einhergehenden Enteignungsprozesse besteht bislang nur ein unzureichendes Verständnis. Anhand der Verknüpfung von performativitäts-, anerkennungs- und demokratietheoretischen Ansätzen nimmt Sören Weißermel eine Konzeptualisierung des Enteignungsbegriffs vor und leistet so einen Beitrag zu einem fundierten Verständnis von Enteignung. Die empirische Analyse offenbart die Prekarisierung der vom Belo-Monte-Projekt betroffenen Bevölkerung, ausgelöst durch eine Politik der Nicht-Anerkennung komplexer Eigentumsstrukturen und damit verknüpfter Lebensweisen. Der Widerstand gegen Enteignung ist damit im Kern ein Kampf um die Anerkennung alternativer Wirklichkeiten. Die Arbeit verdeutlicht so den Aushandlungscharakter von Enteignung, die im Spannungsfeld der Prekarisierung Betroffener und ihrer Forderungen nach Anerkennung und Öffentlichkeit stattfindet. Dieser Aushandlungsprozess ist als ein Kampf um die materielle und symbolische Aneignung des Raumes zu verstehen.
Indonesia’s commitment to reducing land-based greenhouse gas emissions significantly includes the expansion of conservation areas, but these developments are not free of conflicts. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of agrarian conflicts in the context of the implementation of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and forest carbon offsetting in Indonesia, a country where deforestation is a major issue. The author analyzes new kinds of transnational agrarian conflicts which have strong implications for global environmental justice in the REDD+ pilot province of Jambi on the island of Sumatra. The chapters cover: the rescaling of the governance of forests; privatization of conservation; and the transnational dimensions of agrarian conflicts and peasants' resistance in the context of REDD+. The book builds on an innovative conceptual approach linking political ecology, politics of scale and theories of power. It fills an important knowledge and research gap by focusing on the socially differentiated impacts of REDD+ and new forest carbon offsetting initiatives in Southeast Asia, providing a multi-scalar perspective. It is aimed at scholars in the areas of political ecology, human geography, climate change mitigation, forest and natural resource management, as well as environmental justice and agrarian studies.
After decades of civil war, the Colombian government has recently declared the Amazon as a model region for green growth and low carbon development. The Amazon Vision programme, launched by the Colombian government in 2016, seeks to contribute to forest conservation, climate mitigation, poverty reduction and peace building. The Amazon Vision fundamentally reframes the Colombian Amazon from a 'narco frontier' that needs to be liberated from guerrilla influence , organized crime and peasants destroying forests for coca cultivation, to a net CO 2 sink with enormous potential for green growth and poverty reduction. Drawing on historical and empirical qualitative research in Guaviare and complemented by a quantitative land cover classification, this article builds on the concept of 'green territoriality' to investigate the extent to which the shift towards conservation affects property rights and the ability of indigenous groups and peasants to access land and natural resources. We illustrate how the reframing of peasants from protagonists of development and frontier expansion to villains, and of indigenous communities from 'underdeveloped' forest dwellers to environmental guardians, has created land conflicts and affected the legitimacy of their respective property rights. In both cases, the Amazon Vision strengthens conservation policies and challenges existing land rights but also creates new windows of opportunity for the land claims of indigenous communities while reinforcing conceptualizations of social differentiation among dwellers of the Amazon.
The growing demand for natural rubber is increasingly threatening biodiversity and forest ecosystems. Recently, the French Michelin Group started a cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to establish environmentally and socially sustainable ‘model’ rubber plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia. The framing of Michelin’s tyre production as ‘eco-friendly’ and their purported ‘sustainable’ rubber cultivation contradict with statements by villagers living around Michelin’s plantation in Jambi Province, Sumatra, who are reporting environmental destruction and land tenure conflicts. Conceptually, we build on political ecology and critical human geography perspectives to identify conflicts and ambiguities related to sustainability claims, deforestation and dispossession. Empirically, we draw on qualitative research in a village affected by the plantation. We confront and deconstruct the discursive framing of sustainable rubber production with our empirical findings. We show how the plantation restricts access to land and instead of providing additional income, is actually limiting development opportunities.