Project

Socially Just & Sustainable Nature Conservation

Goal:

A group of scientists have called for a global agreement - in the style of the Paris Climate Accord - that would drastically increase the global area of land covered by parks. This project offers evidence in favor of a socially just approach to #NatureConservation that would contribute to the desired outcomes. This project also provides direct evidence that the twenty-first century enclosures proposed by biologist E.O. WIlson and his followers, as much as half of the earth's land mass, would reinforce social and economic inequalities and risk triggering large-scale violation of human rights in the global South.

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Project log

Prakash Kashwan
added a research item
Scientists, corporations, mystics, and movie stars have convinced policymakers around the world that a massive campaign to plant trees should be an essential element of global climate policy. Public dialogue has emphasized potential benefits of tree planting while downplaying pitfalls and limitations that are well established by social and ecological research. We argue that if natural climate solutions are to succeed while economies decarbonize (Griscom et al. 2017), policymakers must recognize and avoid the expense, risk, and damage that poorly designed and hastily implemented tree plantings impose on ecosystems and people. We propose that people-centered climate policies should be developed that support the social, economic, and political conditions that are compatible with the conservation of Earth’s diversity of terrestrial ecosystems. Such a shift in focus, away from tree planting and toward people and ecosystems, must be rooted in the understanding that natural climate solutions can only be effective if they respond to the needs of the rural and indigenous people who manage ecosystems for their livelihoods.
Prakash Kashwan
added a research item
This essay provides a broad-based and jargon-free introduction to climate justice to foster critical thinking, engaged discussions, and profound reflections. It introduces the reader to three dimensions of justice—distributional, procedural, and recognitional justice—and shows how each relates to climate justice. A unique contribution of this essay is to identify and discuss the following three blind spots in the debates on climate justice: (1) the tendency to focus heavily on post hoc effects of climate change while ignoring the root causes of climate change that also contribute to injustices; (2) assuming incorrectly that all climate action contributes to climate justice, even though some types of climate responses can produce new climate injustices; and (3) although scholars have studied the causes of climate injustices extensively, the specific pathways to climate justice remain underdeveloped. This essay concludes by showcasing a few examples of the ongoing pursuits of climate justice, led by social justice groups, local governments, and some government agencies.
Prakash Kashwan
added a research item
In a June 2015 "letter to humanity about the Environment", Pope Francis asks us to redefine our relationship with the world in "the language of fraternity and beauty". For him, "the world" includes fellow humans and non-human living species. This call of unity between humanity and nature is an attempt to heal the wounds Western modernity has caused by equating civilisation with the goals of conquering wild nature or the "frontier". Others across the world too internalised this instinct, leading to the globalisation of a 'civilisational' ethos founded on violence-against nature and fellow human beings. The principle of ontological unity, attributed to some strands of Hinduism and many indigenous cultures, rejects such machoistic notions of progress and civilisation. Here, the unity of the human and non-human world is a given-and not in need of fresh assertions. Much of Hindu philosophy, though, is alive only in the scriptures and is delegitimised entirely by the violence of caste oppressions. It's the lives and lifeworlds of the indigenous peoples, including many in India, that still bear a resemblance to that ethos-being intricately tethered to their natural environments. These indigenous philosophies about the interconnectedness of humanity and nature have inspired calls for pursuing "inter-species justice" by enacting new and legally enforceable "rights" for nature and non-human species.
Prakash Kashwan
added a research item
We are in the middle of a planetary crisis that urgently requires stronger modes of earth system governance. At the same time, calls for justice are becoming increasingly pronounced in sustainability research: there can be no effective planetary stewardship without planetary justice. Rapid planetary-scale processes have reinforced and further created vast injustices at international, national, and sub-national levels. Often, the burden has fallen most severely on the poor and marginalized communities. Yet the literature on planetary justice tends to stay at the level of ideal conceptions and abstract normative arguments of justice theory, without an explicit concern for the needs of the poor. In this Perspective, we focus discussions of planetary justice on the needs of the poorest. We discuss whether the dominant approaches to planetary stewardship and earth system governance are apt at realizing a pro-poor vision of justice and what alternative approaches might be needed.
Prakash Kashwan
added a research item
The United States is having a long-overdue national reckoning with racism. From criminal justice to pro sports to pop culture, Americans increasingly are recognizing how racist ideas have influenced virtually every sphere of life in this country. This includes the environmental movement. Recently the Sierra Club – one of the oldest and largest U.S. conservation organizations – acknowledged racist views held by its founder, author and conservationist John Muir. In some of his writing, Muir described Native Americans and Black people as dirty, lazy and uncivilized. In an essay collection published in 1901 to promote national parks, he assured prospective tourists that “As to Indians, most of them are dead or civilized into useless innocence.” Acknowledging this record, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote in July 2020: “As defenders of Black life pull down Confederate monuments across the country, we must…reexamine our past and our substantial role in perpetuating white supremacy.” This is a salutary gesture. However, I know from my research on conservation policy in places like India, Tanzania and Mexico that the problem isn’t just the Sierra Club. American environmentalism’s racist roots have influenced global conservation practices. Most notably, they are embedded in longstanding prejudices against local communities and a focus on protecting pristine wildernesses. This dominant narrative pays little thought to indigenous and other poor people who rely on these lands – even when they are its most effective stewards.
Prakash Kashwan
added a research item
The frameworks and indices used for carrying out formal assessments of natural resource governance often fail to address a series of fundamental questions as to governance for what, by whom, under what conditions, and toward what ends? In this chapter, the author draws on a political economy of institutions approach to develop a parsimonious meta-framework comprising of five key dimensions of governance that are theoretically informed, internally consistent, and externally generalizable. To illustrate the novel contributions of this approach, the author applies this meta-framework to analyze three prominent frameworks related to the governance of natural resources in a variety of natural resource sectors: Resource Governance Index (RGI) developed by Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Natural Resource Governance Framework (NRGF) developed by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Resource Politics for a Fair Future, a Memorandum of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The development of the framework and its application to the analysis of prominent natural resource governance frameworks contributes new insights to the challenge of governing natural resources in this era of global environmental change amidst deep inequalities between key actors in the state, society and markets.
Prakash Kashwan
added an update
Significant progress is being made to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Now is the time to dive deeper into an analysis of the processes that determine whether indigenous culture, ethos, and values are integrated into the policy process (as opposed to being marginalized in practice even as there is greater discursive recognition). It is important to understand how rights are "realized" in practice. This is the subject of my comparative research on India, Tanzania, and Mexico (Kashwan, Prakash. 2017. Democracy in the Woods: Environmental Conservation and Social Justice in India, Tanzania, and Mexico, Studies in Comparative Energy and Environmental Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.).
More recent research focuses on how indigenous peoples' rights intersect with various theories and theoretical assumptions that inform policymaking. The Guardian published a preliminary commentary on this topic (https://www.theguardian.com/working-in-development/2017/nov/15/bigotry-against-indigenous-people-means-were-missing-a-trick-on-climate-change). An expanded and fully referenced version of this op-ed is available here
Please feel free to follow this project for more research upates about more to come in near future.
 
Prakash Kashwan
added an update
Renowned biologist E.O. Wilson advocates setting aside “half the planet in reserve, or more” exclusively for the goal of nature conservation. There can be no doubt about the need to counter the ongoing assault on earth’s ecosystems. In my two decades of engagements with natural resource management and conservation, I have worked on and studied various aspects of the intersection of conservation, local development and community rights.
In this blog I summarize my research -- published in one of the leading scientific journals in the area, Ecological Economics -- about the relationship between protected area (parks) designation and national-level economic and political inequalities. The evidence from my analysis of cross-national variations in the designation of protected areas in 137 countries draws attention to one of the several fundamental flaws in the proposals for a massive network of exclusionary protected areas, which I name the “Wilsonian enclosures” (to place E.O. Wilson’s proposal within the context of the British enclosures). Read on: https://entitleblog.org/2016/12/22/protecting-nature-in-an-unequal-world/
 
Prakash Kashwan
added a project goal
A group of scientists have called for a global agreement - in the style of the Paris Climate Accord - that would drastically increase the global area of land covered by parks. This project offers evidence in favor of a socially just approach to #NatureConservation that would contribute to the desired outcomes. This project also provides direct evidence that the twenty-first century enclosures proposed by biologist E.O. WIlson and his followers, as much as half of the earth's land mass, would reinforce social and economic inequalities and risk triggering large-scale violation of human rights in the global South.