Article

Virtual nature, violent accumulation: The ‘spectacular failure’ of carbon offsetting at a Ugandan National Park

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Abstract

In East Africa, financially strained governments increasingly experiment with voluntary, market-based carbon offset schemes for enhancing the public management of protected areas. Often, conservationists and governments portray these as ‘triple-win’ solutions for climate change mitigation, biodiversity preservation, and local socioeconomic development. Examining such rhetoric, this paper analyses the rise and decline of an integrated carbon offset and conservation initiative at Mount Elgon National Park in eastern Uganda, involving a partnership between the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and a Dutch NGO, Face the Future. In doing so, the paper reveals the ways in which the uncompensated dispossession of local residents was a necessary precondition for the project’s implementation. Although external auditors expected the project to sequester 3.73 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) between 1994 and 2034, conflicts forced the scheme to cease reforestation in 2003. Noting this rapid decline, we problematize the ways in which Face the Future and other carbon market intermediaries represented their activities via project documents and websites, obscuring the violence that was necessary for the project’s implementation. In so doing, we argue that the maintenance of a ‘triple win’ spectacle is itself integral to the management of carbon sequestration projects, as it provides consumers with a form of ‘ethical’ use value, and greatly enhances the capacity of carbon market brokers to accumulate exchange value by attracting ‘green’ investors. Consequently, what we term a ‘spectacular failure’ manifests in at least two ways: first, in the unravelling of the heavily mediatized spectacle of harmonious, profitable conservation, and, second, in the deleterious nature of the consequences that accrue to local communities and ecosystems alike.

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... As donors like USAID and nongovernmental organizations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) frequently remind us, they do not directly advocate for the eviction or harm of indigenous populations during the implementation of conservation programmes. 2 Rather, conservationists usually construe such actions as unfortunate excesses involved in the operations of local government agencies, such as the Uganda Wildlife Authority (Norgrove and Hulme 2006) or Tanzania's Wildlife Division (Benjaminsen and Bryceson 2012;Benjaminsen et al. 2013). As a result, conservation-related evictions and violence appear as though disconnected from second-order policy decisions and the discursive battles fought to obfuscate such connections (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). Differently put, while conservation-related evictions and displacements are relatively easy to identify and challenge, the slow, 'everyday violence' of uncompensated crop and wildlife raiding, exclusion from common pool resources and routine abuse by conservation personnel remain artificially separated from decisions made by resource management professionals in international fora. ...
... These initiatives were financed by national-level forest conservation programmes from USAID and the European Community, as well as by a Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)-financed and IUCN-implemented initiative known as the Mount Elgon Conservation and Development Project (MECDP). In addition, a Dutch NGOthe Forest Absorbing Carbon Emissions (FACE) Foundation offered to finance the reforestation of Mount Elgon in exchange for the rights to the carbon stored in the new forest compartments (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). ...
... Later, UWA officials came to attribute continually declining volumes of park visitors between 2008 and 2011 to both these decisions and associated press coverage (UWA 2009, Key informant interview, UWA tourism warden, 2011). Further, given the novel pressures that neoliberal reforms and 'new public management' schemes are currently placing on Ugandan PAs to 'pay their own way' by securing revenues from ecotourism and various PES initiatives, conservation authorities are perhaps increasingly vulnerable to such widely disseminated activist campaigns (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). For example, although local revenues from ecotourism and PES schemes at MENP are currently marginalamounting to only approximately USD 200,000 in the 2010-2011 financial year (see UWA 2010a) -and are thus generally overshadowed by incomes received from national-scale donor programmes and centralized state transfers, local conservation officials are nonetheless under intense pressure to increase local sources of revenue as a result of the aforementioned neoliberal reforms. ...
... This led to a group of 130 papers that were fully read and again evaluated by at least two authors. Of these, only eight met our selection criteria [25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]. Seven papers focused on REDD+ projects while one studied a carbon offset project [26]. ...
... Of these, only eight met our selection criteria [25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]. Seven papers focused on REDD+ projects while one studied a carbon offset project [26]. ...
... Cavanagh and Benjaminsen [26] focused on a carbon offset project in Eastern Uganda in Mount Elgon National Park and evolving land-use conflicts. In 1992, the Forest Absorbing Carbon-dioxide Emission (FACE) foundation began reforesting degraded sections of the park as a carbon sink. ...
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A growing body of literature analyses the conflict implications of REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries). However, the way these conflicts unfold is little understood. We address this research gap through the following question: What are the pathways that connect REDD+ projects and conflicts between local communities and other actors? We review 242 scientific articles, selecting eight that allow us to trace how the conflict pathways unfolded. We draw on a political ecology perspective and conceptualize ‘conflict pathway’ as an interaction of key events and drivers leading to conflict. We find six main conflict drivers: (1) injustices and restrictions over (full) access and control of forest resources; (2) creation of new forest governance structures that change relationships between stakeholders and the forest; (3) exclusion of community members from comprehensive project participation; (4) high project expectations that are not met; (5) changes in land tenure policy due to migrants, and (6) the aggravation of historic land tenure conflicts. Evictions from forests, acts of violence, and lawsuits are among the events contributing to the conflict pathways. To prevent them, the rights, livelihoods, and benefits of local communities need to be placed at the centre of the REDD+ projects.
... Environmental and social crises result from 'externalities' -framed as economic and technical problems arising from accounting, governance and market failures (Kosoy and Corbera, 2010;Lohmann, 2005Lohmann, , 2010aPearce, 2002). The solution, it follows, is to correct market failures through market expansion: creating new markets, financial instruments and commodities that will bring unpriced and thus neglected aspects of nature and social life into the market gaze (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014;Hardt and Negri, 2018: 417;Robertson, 2006;Sullivan, 2013). Making nature 'visible' to capital will bring it in to economic decisions, creating sustainable future growth and delivering 'win-win-wins' in the present whilst neutralising, repairing, restoring or replacing elements of the natural world that have been harmed or destroyed by extractive-industrial globalisation (Lohmann, 2010b). ...
... This deepens the 'integration of nature into capital' to produce a virtual nature that can serve as the basis of new sectors of not just production and growth, but also of 'repair' (Carton and Andersson, 2017: 831;Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014;Smith, 2007: 36, 38). Smith (2007: 36) felt that this intensive production of nature has increasingly 'challenged and increasingly superseded' the extensive, but work on AbR and the repair mode suggests that 'nature' -in both already-existing and 'virtual' forms -can be co-produced and enlisted in a dual pathway of accumulation. ...
... Virtuality, virtue and the carbon fetish Paterson and Stripple (2012) use the term 'virtuous carbon' to capture the interplay of 'virtuality' and 'virtue' in the construction of carbon markets (Dalsgaard, 2014). Virtuality, or virtualism, refers to the techniques of abstraction or 'pixilation' that are used to make the world around us seem to conform to an idealised model of it (Carrier and Miller, 1998;Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014;Corson et al., 2013: 160). As discussed above, in this case, we are speaking not of the model of 'the market' as an ostensibly selfregulating domain as Polanyi was, but of an evolved model and the logics of the 'market world' imagined by contemporary market environmentalism. ...
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What ‘nature’ is being commodified in carbon markets, and why does it matter? How are carbon commodities and ecologies of repair co-produced through carbon forestry? Are the Polanyian notions of ‘fictitious commodification’ and ‘embeddedness’ appropriate for thinking about carbon forestry and voluntary carbon market (VCM) offsets? This article addresses these questions and extends the critical understanding of conservation in the ‘repair mode’ through an analysis that delves deeply into the black box of value production in the VCM. Focusing on the interplay of ‘virtuality’ and ‘virtue’ in the production of one variety of so-called ‘boutique’ blue forest carbon offset, this analysis demonstrates the technical abstractions needed isolate ‘carbon’ and force it into the commodity form create slippages between concrete socio-natures and geographies of offsetting and the imagined natures and geographies of a market environmentalist model of the world. This politics facilitates a dual pathway of accumulation via the material extraction of nature to feed the expansion of industrial growth (the subject of Polanyi’s critique) and, in parallel, through feeding new growth markets for nature-based commodities such as the VCM. These markets promise to repair the damage caused by industrial growth, but can only ‘work’ in the abstract, virtual realm despite entanglement with underlying concrete ecologies of repair. Based on this analysis, this article argues that the widespread view of carbon offsets as ‘embedded’ Polanyian fictitious commodities is incomplete, based on an ontological fallacy that conflates the ways in which concrete and abstracted, virtual ‘natures’ are used to produce value in the contemporary restoration economy. This fallacy implicitly reifies the central fictions and contradictions of carbon markets and the market environmentalist model more broadly. Considering VCM carbon forestry in terms of ‘scale-making’ and ‘world-making’ projects, the article presents an alternative conceptualisation of VCM carbon offsets as intangible ‘frictitious’ commodities that inhabit a complicated and only provisionally stabilised commodity form.
... Third, backed by the profit-seeking transnational capital, organised by corrupt officials, and planned by foreign specialists with little knowledge about the local situation, some carbon market projects frequently generate fraudulent emission reductions and catastrophic social and biological consequences (Bachram 2004;Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). ...
... However, such an attempt has not only destroyed the existing biological diversity by removing indigenous plants, the massive use of herbicides and pesticides has also led to pollution that can hardly be removed in decades (Bachram 2004). In addition, the forced land enclosure, the compulsory eviction of local communities, as well as the exploitation found in the CDM projects are also reminiscent of the early days of imperialism (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). The export of technical equipment to developing countries has also fostered their technical dependence on the exporting countries. ...
... It is widely propagated that carbon market projects embody sophisticated technologies and are planned according to the overall social welfare from a global point of view. In contrast, the traditional knowledge and practice on the internal harmony between human and the nature in the developing countries are depicted as a localised prejudice out of a tunnel vision (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). Only the certified emission reduction generated by carbon market projects can be recognised and be traded in the carbon market. ...
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Mainstream economics attributes climate change to negative externalities of carbon emissions and the lack of climate property rights. Although market-based strategies such as emission trading are widely implemented under the guideline of mainstream economics, there is no evidence that the accelerating trend of global warming has been contained. Marxian economists criticise the theoretical point of departure of the mainstream perspective about climate change and climate governance, and propose an alternative analytical framework focussing on the relationship between climate and capital accumulation. Following the Marxian perspective, we discuss the subject, nature, strategy, and possibility of a popular climate movement that could serve as an alternative to the existing mainstream climate governance.
... Conversely, implementation of REDD+ has proceeded precisely through various forms of trade-off and exclusion of certain actors, interests, knowledges, practices, forest uses, and claims to resources [7,[30][31][32][33][34][35] . We note that both the ostensibly inclusionary nature of REDD+ design and the failure of its inclusionary visions to translate into reality must be understood partly in terms of the neoliberal provenance of this scheme [6,36,37]. Scholars of neoliberal environmental governance have analysed the participatory and perpetually optimistic framings of neoliberal conservation projects, and their repeated failure to realise such visions [38][39][40][41][42]. ...
... We thus suggest that to fully understand how and why REDD+ design and implementation proceed the way they do in the West African context, one must pay attention to 1) the politics of inclusion and exclusion at play in the design and implementation of REDD+; 2) the historically and geographically contingent nature of REDD+ design and implementation, and the contested relations of interest that constitute the specific context within which global guidelines are being adapted. In so doing, we contribute to the burgeoning body of critical work on REDD+ and carbon forestry in Africa [3,7,31,34,35,37,47,48]. ...
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This paper analyses the design and implementation of REDD+ in the West African region, an important global biodiversity area. Drawing on in-depth interviews, analysis of policy documents and observation of everyday activities, we sought to understand how REDD+ has been designed and implemented in Nigeria and Ghana. We draw on tools from political ecology to examine how, and why REDD+ takes the form it does in these countries. We focus on three key dimensions that emerged as strong areas of common emphasis in our case studies -- capacity building, carbon visibility, and property rights. First, we show that, while REDD+ design generally foregrounds an ostensible inclusionary politics, its implementation is driven through various forms of exclusion. This contradictory inclusion-exclusion politics, which is partly emblematic of the neoliberal provenance of the REDD+ policy, is also a contingent reality and a strategy for navigating complexities and pursuing certain interests. Second, we show that though the emergent foci of REDD+ implementation in our case studies align with global REDD+ expectations, they yet manifest as historically and geographically contingent processes that reflect negotiated and contested relations among actors that constitute the specific national circumstance of each country. We conclude by reflecting on the wider implications of these findings for understanding REDD+ implementation more broadly.
... Conversely, implementation of REDD+ has proceeded precisely through various forms of trade-off and exclusion of certain actors, interests, knowledges, practices, forest uses, and claims to resources [7,[30][31][32][33][34][35] . We note that both the ostensibly inclusionary nature of REDD+ design and the failure of its inclusionary visions to translate into reality must be understood partly in terms of the neoliberal provenance of this scheme [6,36,37]. Scholars of neoliberal environmental governance have analysed the participatory and perpetually optimistic framings of neoliberal conservation projects, and their repeated failure to realise such visions [38][39][40][41][42]. ...
... We thus suggest that to fully understand how and why REDD+ design and implementation proceed the way they do in the West African context, one must pay attention to 1) the politics of inclusion and exclusion at play in the design and implementation of REDD+; 2) the historically and geographically contingent nature of REDD+ design and implementation as, and the contested relations of interest that constitute the specific context within which global guidelines are being adapted. In so doing, we contribute to the burgeoning body of critical work on REDD+ and carbon forestry in Africa [3,7,31,34,35,37,47,48]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper analyses the design and implementation of REDD+ in the West African region, an important global biodiversity area. Drawing on in-depth interviews, analysis of policy documents and observation of everyday activities, we sought to understand how REDD+ has been designed and implemented in Nigeria and Ghana. We draw on tools from political ecology to examine how, and why REDD+ takes the form it does in these countries. We focus on three key dimensions that emerged as strong areas of common emphasis in our case studies -- capacity building, carbon visibility, and property rights. First, we show that, while REDD+ design generally foregrounds an ostensible inclusionary politics, its implementation is driven through various forms of exclusion. This contradictory inclusion-exclusion politics, which is partly emblematic of the neoliberal provenance of the REDD+ policy, is also a contingent reality and a strategy for navigating complexities and pursuing certain interests. Second, we show that though the emergent foci of REDD+ implementation in our case studies align with global REDD+ expectations, they yet manifest as historically and geographically contingent processes that reflect negotiated and contested relations among actors that constitute the specific national circumstance of each country. We conclude by reflecting on the wider implications of these findings for understanding REDD+ implementation more broadly.
... Studies that frame REDD+ in terms of discrete policy and a form of payment for ecosystem services consider these so-called "interim solutions" to tenure problems necessary in principle Bolin et al, 2013). Such measures however sit uneasily with claims of voluntary incentivization of forest conservation, and appear to drive a resurgence of "fortress conservation" that leads to local exclusion, conflict, and violence (Asiyanbi, 2016;Cavanagh & Benjaminsen, 2014;Fairhead et al., 2012;Vedeld et al., 2016). These tendencies have spurred widespread demand for the development of social and environmental safeguards within the global forestry and REDD+ community (Rutt, 2013). ...
... However, their implementation has so far been limited, while in some countries and REDD+ communities safeguards remain completely absent (Jagger, Luckert, Duchelle, Lund, & Sunderlin, 2014;Saeed, McDermott, & Boyd, 2017;Saito-Jensen, Rutt, & Chhetri, 2014). This may partly explain the evidence of marginalization and rights abuses across many carbon forestry projects (Cavanagh & Benjaminsen, 2014;Edstedt & Carton, 2018;Lyons & Westoby, 2014;Milne et al., 2019;Nel & Hill, 2014;Sarmiento Barletti & Larson, 2017). ...
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Recent IPCC assessments highlight a key role for large‐scale carbon removal in meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This focus on removal, also referred to as negative emissions, is suggestive of novel opportunities, risks, and challenges in addressing climate change, but tends to build on the narrow techno‐economic framings that characterize integrated assessment modeling. While the discussion on negative emissions bears important parallels to a wider and older literature on carbon sequestration and carbon sinks, this earlier scholarship—particularly from the critical social sciences—is seldom engaged with by the negative emissions research community. In this article, we survey this “long history” of carbon removal and seek to draw out lessons for ongoing research and the emerging public debate on negative emissions. We argue that research and policy on negative emissions should proceed not just from projections of the future, but also from an acknowledgement of past controversies, successes and failures. In particular, our review calls attention to the irreducibly political character of carbon removal imaginaries and accounting practices and urges acknowledgement of past experiences with the implementation of (small‐scale) carbon sequestration projects. Our review in this way highlights the importance of seeing continuity in the carbon removal discussion and calls for more engagement with existing social science scholarship on the subject. Acknowledging continuity and embracing an interdisciplinary research agenda on carbon removal are important aspects in making climate change mitigation research more responsible, and a precondition to avoid repeating past mistakes and failures. This article is categorized under: • The Carbon Economy and Climate Mitigation > Benefits of Mitigation
... In many publications, the disempowerment of local people is considered central. A study by Cavanagh and Benjaminsen (2014) focuses on the attempted establishment of a carbon market in Uganda, which led "to the eviction of the local people, without any compensation for their loss of land, property, and livelihoods" (Matheus 2018:31). The influence of experts and of unelected institutions such as CSOs increases in these cases, which could then influence decisions at the expense of the local people (Corbera 2012, Apostolopoulou et al. 2014. ...
... Different authors highlight that these rights are often assigned to private (legal) persons, which supports the advancing privatization of land (Porras et al. 2008, Vatn 2010, Gómez-Baggethun and Ruiz-Pérez 2011, McElwee 2012. The review revealed that privatizations can have negative social implications, for example, the displacement of local and poorer land users by wealthier people that have both money and power to acquire land titles (Cavanagh andBenjaminsen 2014, Scales 2015). In this regard, the interactions between PES effectiveness and the design of the rights of disposal as well as the question of who owns the property rights for the ES providing ecosystems is of key interest, but still insufficiently studied. ...
Article
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The economic conservation instrument of payments for ecosystem services (PES) enjoys an increasing popularity among scientists, politicians, and civil society organizations alike, while others raise concerns regarding the ecological effectiveness and social justice of this instrument. In this review article, we showcase the variety of existing PES definitions and systematically locate these definitions in the range between Coasean conceptualizations, which describe PES as conditional and voluntary private negotiations between ES providers and ES beneficiaries, and much broader Pigouvian PES understandings that also assign government-funded and involuntary schemes to the PES approach. It turns out that the scale at which PES operate, having so far received very little attention in the literature, as well as critique of PES must be considered in the context of the diversity of definitions to ensure the comparability between studies researching PES programs. Future research should better target linkages between global, regional, and local scales for the development of PES programs, while taking local collective governance systems for a sustainable use of resources into account more seriously.
... In addition, numerous researchers have emphasized that CDM projects have impacts on the economic development (Balat, 2009;Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014;Nakicenovic and Swart, 2000), and enhance rural livelihoods (Boyd and Goodman, 2011;Gundimeda, 2004;Lobovikov, 2012;Patel, 2014;Pfaff et al., 2007;Teixeira et al., 2007). The main influencing mechanism includes employment opportunities (Bakker et al., 2011;Dinar et al., 2011;Jindal et al., 2008;Newell, 2012;Thurner and Varughese, 2013), financial public, household income IJCCSM (Balat, 2009;Balat and Ayar, 2005) and investments (Lewis, 2010). ...
Article
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Purpose Forestry carbon sink (FCS) is not only an important measure to deal with the current global climate change but also an effective way to build an ecological civilization. As an important form of implementation of FCS, the afforestation and reforestation projects under the clean development mechanism (CDM A/R) have important functions such as ecological protection and economic growth. This paper aims to evaluate the short-term and long-term impact of CDM on the county economy and its impact mechanism. Design/methodology/approach This paper first uses propensity score matching to match the county (treatment group). Second, this paper uses difference in difference to estimate the net effect of CDM A/R project on county economic development to reduce estimation error. Finally, the impact mechanism of implementing CDM A/R project on county economic development was tested. Findings The CDM A/R project has significantly promoted the development of real gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita real GDP in the region. Because of the long project cycle, this promotion is not immediate in the short term and has an obvious hysteresis effect. The longer the implementation time, the greater the promotion of the local economy will develop. The results are robust after the robustness test that uses the single-difference method. The CDM A/R project has promoted local economic growth by optimizing the local industrial structure, increasing the regional capital stock and raising the regional government’s fiscal revenue and expenditure. Originality/value This paper provides a critical overview of the relationship between clean development mechanism and local economic development.
... This results in either direct violence as local communities seek access to the land or indirectly through loss of livelihood and grievances that may reduce the cost of recruitment for rebel groups (Milne et al., 2019). Afforestation and conservation through the preservation of natural parks may also foster conflict with traditional use (Bergius et al., 2020;Cavanagh & Benjaminsen, 2014). ...
Article
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Climate policies will need to incentivize transformative societal changes if they are to achieve emission reductions consistent with 1.5°C temperature targets. To contribute to efforts for aligning climate policy with broader societal goals, specifically those related to sustainable development, we identify the effects of climate mitigation policy on aspects of socioeconomic development that are known determinants of conflict and evaluate the plausibility and importance of potential pathways to armed conflict and political violence. Conditional on preexisting societal tensions and socioeconomic vulnerabilities, we isolate effects on economic performance, income and livelihood, food and energy prices, and land tenure as most likely to increase conflict risks. Climate policy designs may be critical to moderate these risks as different designs can promote more favorable societal outcomes such as equity and inclusion. Coupling research with careful monitoring and evaluation of the intermediate societal effects at early stages of policy implementation will be a critical part of learning and moderating potential conflict risks. Importantly, better characterizing the future conflict risks under climate policy allows for a more comprehensive comparison to the conflict risk if mitigation is not implemented and graver climate damages are experienced. This article is categorized under: • The Carbon Economy and Climate Mitigation > Benefits of Mitigation Abstract Climate policies that emphasize a fair distribution of benefits and compensation for unintended consequences will moderate the risks of violent conflict and future climate impacts.
... 56 In Uganda, projects promoting reforestation for carbon offsetting resulted in the uncompensated loss of land, property, and livelihoods of communities and smallholder farmers. 57 ...
Article
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The protection, restoration, management, and sustainable use of natural and modified ecosystems to address climate change mitigation have received much global attention in recent years. Those types of actions are, however, often not designed to also address other global challenges, and so they miss an opportunity to provide important non-mitigation benefits and compromise their mitigation potential. Here, we highlight the importance of planning Nature-based Solutions for mitigation while considering the suite of global challenges that societies face, and we propose a set of considerations to ensure that those types of solutions also provide climate adaptation, biodiversity, and/or human well-being benefits. Planning Nature-based Solutions for climate mitigation that can also address other global challenges is very timely because every nature-based effort should grasp the opportunity to address a variety of pressing issues in order to allow for the continued delivery of mitigation and other benefits in this critical decade.
... The nature of these trade-offs as well as how they are (not) resolved will determine to what extent "natural climate solutions" constitute real and sustainable alternatives to cutting emissions at source. While most people would probably agree that protecting and promoting forest growth is beneficial and therefore desirable, questions over what exactly constitutes a forest, who gets to decide and manage it, who carries the costs and reaps the benefits, and so on are inevitably political questions and a common source of disagreement (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Leach and Scoones 2015). ...
Chapter
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Forest carbon is increasingly becoming a resource of global, indeed planetary, importance. The increased sequestration of carbon in trees promises not just to reduce emissions from land use change but is also meant to offset continued fossil fuel emissions in the Global North. In this chapter, we explore the kinds of world-making that occur on the back of this climate change mitigation strategy. Using two examples of carbon offsetting projects in Uganda, we show how the political construction of forest carbon as a global resource is altering local livelihoods and landscapes in the Global South. Our cases illustrate two different ways in which these world-(re)making processes are taking place, namely through carbon sequestration “sacrifice zones” and the establishment of “zones of recruitment.” While these two strategies represent qualitatively distinct ways in which communities are excluded/included in the production of forest carbon, our cases also highlight important commonalities. Most importantly, they show how existing political economies of resource extraction (fossil fuels and timber) are being justified and remade in tandem with the creation of forest carbon as a mitigation resource.
... Abstracts with mentions of the governance of forest activities concerned carbon forestry, namely REDD+ initiatives (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Cavanagh et al. 2015; Kansanga and Luginaah 2019), forest reforms, tenure rights, taxation systems and the legalization of informal markets (e.g. Gautier et al. 2013), as well as initiatives like the 'Model Forest' (Jum et al. 2007). ...
... In the study area, within the local community, local elites have managed to reap most of the benefits with the conservation and tourism coupling, a phenomenon also seen in the state-led conservation-development model in the similar socio-political contexts of Tanzania (Mccabe et al., 1992;Weldemichel, 2020), Uganda (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014), and Columbia (Ojeda, 2012). Negative social influences, such as social disparity and the emergence of conflict between the villages in West Sikkim share similarity with other geographies with the policy implementation of pastoral bans. ...
Article
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State-led policies of pastoralist removal from protected areas, following the fortress model of biodiversity conservation, have been a common practice across parts of Asia and Africa. In the Himalayan region of South Asia, restrictive access and removal of pastoralist communities from protected areas have been compensated by the state through “eco”-tourism. In this paper, we critique the current conservation model adopted in the Indian Himalaya, which focuses on a conservation-pastoral eviction-ecotourism coupling. With a focus on pastoralists and pastoral practices, we argue that this model is neither an inclusive engine of development, nor does it always help conservation. Instead, it recreates a landscape favoring the state's interests, produces exclusions, and may also negatively affect both society and ecology. We build on the case of Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP) situated in Sikkim, Eastern Himalaya. We used mixed methods and conducted 48 semi-structured interviews, 10 key informant interviews, and two focused group discussion in the four village clusters situated in the vicinity of KNP, West Sikkim. The grazing ban policy and concomitant promotion of tourism caused the end of pastoralism in KNP. It transformed a pastoral cultural landscape into a tourist spot with a transition in livestock from the traditional herds of yak and sheep to the pack animals and non-native hybrid cattle. Locally perceived social impacts of the grazing ban include loss of pastoral culture, economic loss, and the exclusion of the pastoral community from the park. As per the respondents, perceived ecological effects include a decline in vegetation diversity in the high-altitude summer pastures, altered vegetation composition in the winter due to plantation of non-native tree species, and increased incidents of human-wildlife conflict. Rangelands of the Himalaya transcend political boundaries across countries. The conservation model in Himalaya, should henceforth be done with a trans-boundary level planning involving the prime users of high-altitude rangelands, i.e., the pastoralists. The lessons from this study can help design effective future policy interventions in landscapes critical for both pastoralist cultures and wildlife conservation.
... The nature of these trade-offs as well as how they are (not) resolved will determine to what extent "natural climate solutions" constitute real and sustainable alternatives to cutting emissions at source. While most people would probably agree that protecting and promoting forest growth is beneficial and therefore desirable, questions over what exactly constitutes a forest, who gets to decide and manage it, who carries the costs and reaps the benefits, and so on are inevitably political questions and a common source of disagreement (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Leach and Scoones 2015). ...
... Through carbon offsetting, a unit of carbon is disembedded from a locality and its conflicts, and through a process of commodification can be bought and sold in global markets, without challenging current consumption patterns and by allowing economic growth to continue as usual (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). Private certification has been promoted as an important private forest governance solution, but can reinforce new forms of injustices as it privileges those who can afford to dedicate time and resources to comply with complicated standards (Basnett et al. 2019). ...
Chapter
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The UN Sustainable Development Goals include ambitious targets for tackling deforestation and emphasise the roles of diverse actors and partnerships for transformative change. Initiatives for governing tropical forests take multiple forms, including ‘zero deforestation’ supply chain initiatives, carbon forestry, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), legislative frameworks that intend to cut off markets for illegally harvested timber, and emerging landscape and jurisdictional approaches. Drawing on insights from political ecology and sustainability transitions research, this chapter discusses the barriers to transitioning to ‘zero deforestation’ through consideration of: (1) the contested framing of the problem of deforestation, (2) how sustainable forest governance is translated and enacted across scales, and (3) who is represented in ‘the transition’. This reveals opportunities for sustainable and just transitions for forests. We argue that careful attention must be paid to the influences of power and politics surrounding forest governance and its social and ecological outcomes, and the need to challenge orthodoxies around economic growth that currently underpin policy responses.
... At the UN Secretary-General's Climate Leadership Summit in September 2014, seventy-four countries, twenty-three states, provinces and cities, and over 1000 businesses and investors with more than $24 trillion in assets met to discuss a series of fresh initiatives to 'price carbon' (World Bank, 2014). This move was despite overwhelming evidence that carbon markets failed to reduce emissions (Böhm et al., 2012;Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014). ...
Article
The use of financial instruments for climate change mitigation puts communities and nature at risk. Success is measured by capital accumulation rather than the ability to protect or enhance human and non-human nature. From cap and trade programmes that allow corporations to buy and sell ‘units’ of pollution on financialized markets, to forest offset credits, the financialization of nature presupposes the separation and quantification of the Earth’s cycles and functions with carbon, water, and biodiversity. Financialization causes these cycles to be treated as units to be sold in financial and speculation markets. This article reviews the theoretical frameworks of financialization of nature and proliferating climate change policies. I explore the flaws of the new carbon pricing and carbon tax platform in Colombia and its impacts on Afro-Colombian communities in the coal mining region of Cesar, in northeast Caribbean and related Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects on the Pacific coast of Colombia.
... The concern is that these incremental benefits will instantly be overwhelmed by underlying pressures for intensive and expanding commodity production and multifunctional production systems. In such a context, novel strategies will continuously be devised to expand the commodity frontier, whether through harvesting of ecosystem services through carbon credits (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen., 2014;Cavanagh et al., 2015), or as we later describe, quantifying "lives influenced and touched" by conservation programmes. ...
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In response to widespread soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and rapid social and ecological homogenization of agri-environmental landscapes, economic incentives such as payments for ecosystem services (PES) are presented by natural resource managers as the most efficient way to address the unintended consequences of intensive agriculture. In this article, we explore the consequences of rationalizing conservation by adopting sociologist George Ritzer’s “McDonaldization” thesis to contextualize on-farm conservation payments to farmers on Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. McDonaldization refers to the rendering of both society and nature in increasingly calculable, predictable, efficient and controllable ways. Through the introduction of economic incentives for conservation in the context of increasing pressures to maximise yields of processed potatoes in PEI, we discuss how debates on designing conservation payments are framed in terms of optimizing efficiency and maintaining predictability. In some cases, conservation is viewed as generating new productive values from agricultural landscapes, including for values of “care” “community” and “resilience,” that can be commodified for profit. We emphasize how intensifying agriculture necessitates economically beneficial conservation practices to both pre-empt future production losses and to reproduce the conditions necessary for optimizing future production. Within this arrangement of disciplining unexpected outcomes with ever-uniform, predictable, and controllable responses, we conclude that dynamic spontaneity of unexpected social and ecological responses and the politicization of farmer autonomy may avoid the tendency towards reinforcing business-as-usual agricultural production.
... Carbon market prices, especially in the voluntary market, are highly variable and ranged from an average of around $2 to $12 t/CO2 in 2019, with an average of $3.5 t/CO2 paid in the clean cookstove market [75]. Furthermore, the concept of offsetting has itself been very controversial, with commentators querying whether these incentives were really working to reduce emissions and how rigorous procedures were [76,77]. ...
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Results-based financing (RBF) programmes in the clean cooking sector have gained increasing donor interest over the last decade. Although the risks and advantages of RBF have been discussed quite extensively for other sectors, especially health services, there is limited research-documented experience of its application to clean cooking. Due to the sheer scale of the important transition from ‘dirty’ to clean cooking for the 4 billion people who lack access, especially in the Global South, efficient and performance-proven solutions are urgently required. This paper, undertaken as part of the work of the UKAid-funded Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme, aims to close an important research gap by reviewing evidence-based support mechanisms and documenting essential experiences from previous and ongoing RBF programmes in the clean cooking and other sectors. On this basis, the paper derives key strategic implications and learning lessons for the global scaling of RBF programmes and finds that qualitative key performance indicators such as consumer acceptance as well as longer-term monitoring are critical long-term success factors for RBF to ensure the continued uptake and use of clean cooking solutions (CCS), however securing the inclusion of these indicators within programmes remains challenging. Finally, by discussing the opportunities for the evolution of RBF into broader impact funding programmes and the integration of energy access and clean cooking strategies through multi-sector approaches, the paper illustrates potential steps to enhance the impact of RBF in this sector in the future.
... Carbon offsetting's virtuous spectacle arguably creates a fictive 'economy of appearances' based on circulating virtual representations, generating a commodity fetishism that obscures the material features of the socioecological relations involved in the production of carbon credits (Igoe 2013, Cavanagh andBenjaminsen 2014). Contested cultural imaginaries, and the dynamics of neoliberal climate science, are inter-related with the political economy of the offset markets, amidst the broader dynamics of capitalism (Levy andSpicer 2013, Lohmann 2017). ...
Article
Carbon offsetting has been beset by problems and failures, and relies on the mobilisation of supportive discourses and knowledge-claims to retain a sense of credibility. Psycho-analytical ideology critique can help explain how these processes interact with questions of subjectivity. Analysis of interviews with carbon offset market practitioners suggests that identification with carbon offsetting is only partial, and that it is sustained through disavowal, through trust in the authority of the Other, and through desire for carbon offsetting’s unrealisable promises. It is important to grapple with the fantasy that sustains carbon offsetting in order to better understand, and indeed contest, its enduring appeal and its continued inclusion in climate governance.
... One increasingly prominent route through which international-level formalization is taking place is charcoal's incorporation into REDD+ initiatives and flows of finance, as global authority is exerted over African landscapes and people [177], often in collaboration with states. Caution is warranted here as well, since research has shown the social and environmental harms that REDD+ and carbon forestry initiatives can cause, as local people may pay a steep price for global emissions mitigation through loss of land, forest access, livelihoods, or autonomy [122,[177][178][179][180][181]. This takes on added relevance given the call for REDD+ initiatives in Africa to focus further on degradation instead of deforestation [61], which could lead to even more invasive systems of surveillance and discipline required to measure and curb degradation [182,183]. ...
Article
Is charcoal a sustainable energy source in Africa? This is a crucial question, given charcoal's key importance to urban energy. In today's dominant policy narrative – the charcoal-crisis narrative – charcoal is deemed incompatible with sustainable and modern energy, blamed for looming ecological catastrophe, and demanding replacement. However, an emerging sustainability-through-formalization narrative posits that charcoal can be made sustainable – specifically, through formalization of production, trade, markets, and consumption technologies. This represents an important opportunity to go beyond the crisis narrative and to engage productively with charcoal. However, this ascendent narrative also risks misrepresenting the reality of charcoal on the continent and leading to inappropriate policies. The narrative's designation of the African charcoal sector as unsustainable at present obscures charcoal production's diverse and uncertain impacts across the continent; moreover, the association of informality with unsustainability obscures a similarly complex and diverse social reality as well as the ways that social processes and relations of power and inequality determine charcoal's sustainability. We argue that charcoal needs to be considered within its historical, social, and environmental contexts to better understand its present and the emergent pathways to sustainable energy futures. We draw upon research that is raising questions about both the charcoal-crisis and the sustainability-through-formalization narratives to argue for a new narrative of charcoal in context. This approaches charcoal as a politically, ecologically, and historically embedded resource, entailing significant socio-ecological complexity across diverse historical and geographical conjunctures, and calling for new agendas of interdisciplinary research with an orientation towards sustainability and justice.
... Different applications of compensating for impacts are exemplary of more quantitative takes. Offsetting of carbon emissions by increasing carbon sinks, for example, has become a mainstream, though contested approach in mitigating climate change (Cavanagh & Benjaminsen, 2014;Gössling et al., 2009). There have also been discussions of water offsetting, but the context-and time-specific nature of water resources and water uses limits the applicability of the concept (Sojamo, 2015). ...
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In environmental management and sustainability there is an increasing interest in measurement and accounting of beneficial impact—as an incentive to action, as a communication tool, and to move toward a positive, constructive approach focused on opportunities rather than problems. One approach uses the metaphor of a “handprint,” complementing the notion of environmental footprints, which have been widely adopted for impact measurement and accounting. We analyze this idea by establishing core principles of handprint thinking: Handprint encourages actions with positive impacts and connects to analyses of footprint reductions but adds value to them and addresses the issue of what action should be taken. We also identify five key questions that need to be addressed and decisions that need to be made in performing a (potentially quantitative) handprint assessment, related to scoping of the improvement to be made, how it is achieved, and how credit is assigned, taking into account constraints on action. A case study of the potential water footprint reduction of an average Finn demonstrates how handprint thinking can be a natural extension of footprint reduction analyses. We find that there is a diversity of possible handprint assessments that have the potential to encourage doing good. Their common foundation is “handprint thinking.”
... Although there is scope for significant private finance in these types of schemes, private companies will be seeking assurances on good governance and guarantees that the ES they are paying for are being delivered. At the same time, there is considerable risk that offsets will not be ecologically equivalent and provide few or no social benefits (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014;Maron et al., 2015). ...
Article
Forests generate a range of ecosystem services at global, local and regional scales but deforestation and forest degradation is increasing in many regions of the world, with primary forests under particular threat. At the same time, the communities that own and live in and around these forests are seeking incomes for development in an increasingly globalised world. The failure to comprehensively recognise, demonstrate and capture the value of the ecosystem services of forests, means that forests are seen primarily as a source of timber, or forest land as simply an opportunity for agriculture and mining. Forest communities, that have often harnessed the forest for centuries, are often faced with a false choice between conservation and development. A number of mechanisms exist to create incomes from the forest through more sustainable activities that recognise and seek to capture forest ecosystem service benefits beyond timber. This paper examines the literature on four key mechanisms – (i) forest certification, (ii) non-timber forest products, ecotourism and eco-labelling, (iii) payments for ecosystems services and (iv) forest carbon mitigation schemes (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) to determine how they recognise, demonstrate and capture ecosystem services and to identify their strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats. It is argued that while the mechanisms recognise multiple ecosystem services, they struggle to demonstrate their value, and thus ineffectively capture them in forest management and income-generation for forest stewards. The paper uses the analysis to propose the essential requirements of a ‘Basket of Benefits Approach’ that provides guidance for more comprehensive valuation of forest ecosystem services, inclusive of ecosystem integrity, that enables just benefit sharing. This Approach considers all the benefits and the beneficiaries to be within the ‘basket’, and therefore that agreement on values and equitable sharing of the benefits, through participatory planning and governance, is essential
... Since its inception, REDD+ has been widely studied. Issues identified in the literature are diverse, ranging from land dispossession (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Furtado 2017), local political instability and social-economic disruptions (Asiyanbi et al. 2019;Corbera and Schroeder 2017) to food insecurity (Bayrak and Marafa 2016) that all too often impact Indigenous peoples and other traditional forest-dependent communities. Of particular concern is how REDD+ projects have been associated with forced evictions (Lyons and Westoby 2014;Milne et al. 2019) land conflicts (Dunlap and Fairhead 2014;Hunsberger 2015), contentions between and within communities (Bayrak and Marafa 2016;Osborne 2015), centralization of forest governance (Bayrak and Marafa 2016;Hunsberger 2015), and failure in providing socioeconomic benefits to locals (Osborne 2015;Schroeder and McDermott 2014). ...
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This article contributes to political ecologies of forest-based climate change mitigation strategies by assessing Brazil's first subnational jurisdictional REDD+ program. Proponents of jurisdictional REDD+ argue that the approach brings more social and environmental benefits than small-scale REDD+ projects and addresses negative socio-economic impacts of deforestation pressures on forest-dependent communities. Our analysis tell a different story. We assess Acre's sub-national jurisdictional (SNJ) program to show that reworking the scale of REDD+ is not only key to its persistence and stabilization but also how implementation politics often further environmental injustice. We draw qualitative field research in the state of Acre into conversation with a critical analysis of SISA and the ISA Carbono program implementation. Our findings illustrate two interwoven points vital to political ecologies of REDD+. First, the socio-environmental ambitions of Acre's SNJ REDD+ program were strongly influenced by the political ecologies of popular movements and a history of state-led environmental governance initiatives. Second, Acre's SNJ REDD+ has not met several of its social-environmental goals like bolstering forest-dependent peoples' rights or equitably distributing program benefits across sectors despite most extensively operating on the lands of forest-dependent communities. Consequently, we argue that Acre's SNJ REDD+ track record has reinforced rather than alleviated injustice against Indigenous peoples and traditional forest extractivist communities.
... Although the success of private supply chain sustainability initiatives depends upon clear property rights, including the recognition of local and customary land tenure rights (Lambin et al., 2018), as instruments, they have also created new forms of land enclosures in some cases (Johnson, 2014). In the case of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), REDD+ specifically and carbon forestry more broadly, this has resulted in conflicts in places as diverse as Uganda (Bachram, 2004, Cavanagh & Benjaminsen, 2014Edstedt & Carton, 2018), Mexico and Bolivia (Leach & Scoones, 2015) and Southeast Asia Howson, 2018;Milne et al., 2019). In contexts of high inequality, low levels of literacy and an absence of accountability to and within communities, scope for corruption, misinformation and appropriation of forest land is rife. ...
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Non-technical summary Despite efforts to address the global forest crisis, deforestation and degradation continue, so we need to urgently revisit possible solutions. A failure to halt the global forest crisis contributes to climate change and biodiversity loss and will continue to result in inequalities in access to, and benefits from, forest resources. In this paper, we unpack a series of powerful myths about forests and their management. By exposing and better understanding these myths and what makes them so persistent, we have the basis to make the social and political changes needed to better manage and protect forests globally.
... This often results in engagement with proxy institutions in the target countries -for instance domestic executive agencies or environmental NGOs -and in shifting responsibilities to the local level (see 2017 on diffusion of responsibility). Still, REDD+ governance is designed to ensure that reliable means of control are in place that guarantee effective monitoring and certification, and may be enforced in case of conflict (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Cavanagh et al. 2017;Howson 2018). Thus, REDD+ programs are shaped by distinct dynamics of flexibility and control (Astuti and McGregor 2015a,b). ...
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REDD+ regimes are accompanied by capacity-building and educational practices, which play an important role in REDD+ governance. These practices address subaltern local and indigenous actors, seek their compliance and thereby contribute to the stabilization of otherwise all-too-fragile global carbon governance systems. In this article I analyze the governing effects of such practices by drawing on Robert Fletcher's concept of "multiple environmentalities" and Tania Murray Li's "analytic of assemblage." Empirically I focus on educational materials that have been designed for REDD+ projects in cooperation with one of the world's largest REDD+ funds, Norway's International Climate and Forest Initiative. I identify several strategies that aim at aligning diverse actors, seek to de- or re-politicize REDD+ concepts, authorize knowledge, and, most significantly, address local actors as responsible ecological stewards, who contribute to stabilizing REDD+ regimes on the ground. In total, these strategies promote programmatic subjectivities among indigenous 'stakeholders' and contribute to a new, 'glocal' understanding of nature-society relations. Keywords: global environmental governance, REDD+, governmentality, environmentality, capacity-building
... The fact that the behaviour of transnational companies is not necessarily aggressive, but often follows legal procedure and adapts to political conditions, can in some instances provide conservationists with an effective means to prevent its occurrence inside protected areas. Also interesting is the fact that large-scale mining has managed to establish itself when it is has offered conservationist packages, such as in the form of integrated mining and biodiversity offsetting projects (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Brock 2020;Enns, Bersaglio, and Sneyd 2019), in an act of adaptation and reconfiguration of its practices. ...
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This article contributes to the literature on commodity frontiers by providing evidence from locales where two different frontiers overlap. We focus on intersecting commodity frontiers produced through biodiversity conservation and mineral extraction that increasingly compete for control over land and resources. We frame commodity frontiers as organised through the territorialisation of rural landscapes via different types of protected areas (strict, flexible) and various scales of mining activity (artisanal, semi-industrial, industrial). With reference to case studies from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and northern Madagascar, we disaggregate the processes of territorialisation both at and between conservation and mining frontiers. It is argued that flexible approaches to protected area management and artisanal and semi-industrial modes of mining can be viewed as territorial adaptations to enable frontiers to co-exist where strict conservation and large-scale mining would otherwise exclude one-another. We conclude that contexts where state power is limited, and the boundaries between legal and illegal become blurred, are likely to be especially conducive to the emergence of double frontiers.
... Conservation programs often end up promoting commodification of nature and marginalize the identity and livelihoods of resource-dependent communities, thus entrenching recognitional injustice (Srivastava & Mehta, 2017). For example, in the case of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), REDD+ specifically and carbon forestry more broadly, this has resulted in conflicts in places as diverse as Uganda (Bachram, 2004;Cavanagh & Benjaminsen, 2014;Edstedt & Carton, 2018), Mexico and Bolivia (Boyd, 2009;Corbera & Brown, 2008), and Southeast Asia (Howson, 2018;Milne et al., 2018). ...
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Calls for climate justice abound as evidence accumulates of the growing social and environmental injustices aggravated or driven by climate change. There is now a considerable and diverse literature on procedural, distributional and intergenerational dimensions, including questions of recognition in climate justice. Yet its meaning, scope and practical implications are still contested. Importantly, the broader landscape within which climate justice is situated is rapidly changing, bringing new challenges to the understanding and practice of climate justice. This review takes stock of climate justice literature in view of this new context. We find several disconnects and tensions between more philosophical and academic treatments of the subject on the one hand, and “activist”‐oriented approaches to climate justice on the other. Scholarship often falls into silos around scales from global and local, between mitigation and adaptation or draws distinctions between climate justice and other forms of (in)justice. This inhibits an understanding of climate justice that can address more directly its underlying root causes in an historically constituted global economic system and intersecting set of social inequalities. We propose a research agenda centered on a transformative approach to climate justice, placing analysis of power in its various guises at the center of its enquiry, and subverting and moving beyond existing distinctions by focusing on the social and institutional relations and inequalities that both produce climate change and profoundly shape responses to it. We elaborate on three key strands of such an approach: inclusive climate justice, deepening climate justice and governance for climate justice. This article is categorized under: Climate, Nature, and Ethics > Ethics and Climate Change Climate, Nature, and Ethics > Climate Change and Global Justice
... Green militarisation combines general tendencies of militarism-an ideology that privileges military culture and values, and justification of the extension of these values and culture-into nominally civilian spheres, as well as the Tanzania's Militarised Wildlife Conservation Sector actual use of militarised techniques and actions in the name of protecting wildlife (Lunstrum 2014:819). Violence in the name of conservation is often promoted through the "spectacularization of green militarisation" (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Marijnen and Verweijen 2016), meaning the presentation of militarised conservation actors, such as rangers, as selfless champions or "green martyrs" (Marijnen and Verweijen 2016). ...
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This paper examines the ways in which Tanzanian conservation authorities utilise biodiversity "extinction narratives" in order to legitimise the use of violence in redrawing protected areas' boundaries. Militarisation and violence in conservation have often been associated with the "war on poaching". Drawing on the history of conservation and violence in Tanzania, and using an empirical case from Loliondo, the paper suggests that violence in conservation may be legitimised when based on extinction narratives and a claim that more exclusive spaces are urgently needed to protect biodiversity. It argues that the emerging militarisation and use of violence in Tanzania can be associated with both global biodiversity extinction and local neo-Malthusian narratives, which recently have regained predominance. When combined with "othering" of groups of pastoralists by portraying them as foreign "invaders", such associations legit-imise extensions of state control over contested land by any means available, including violence.
... Neoliberal conservation goes hand in hand with spectacular media presentations of nature (Brockington and Duffy, 2010) and the spectacularisation of the 'performance' of conservation (Igoe, 2010). Offsetting projects hinge on win-win-win spectacles that allege to solve ecological, social and economic crises in order to secure investments while obscuring social and ecological conflicts (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014). They feed into the creation of 'desire' and inform particular representations and narratives around nature. ...
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German energy giant and coal mine operator RWE makes two products: cheap electricity and ‘pretty new landscapes’. These ‘pretty new landscapes’ are biodiversity offsets to compensate for the destruction of the ancient Hambacher Forest for the world’s largest opencast lignite coal mine in the German Rhineland. Drawing on in-depth fieldwork including participant observation and interviews in and around the mine and its offset sites, this paper explores the relationship between coal mining, spectacularisation of conservation, the ecotourism–extraction nexus and accumulation by restoration. I illustrate the historic and contemporary importance of restoration activities to the accumulation process and explore the recent engagement of mine operator RWE in the provision of restored nature (in the form of ‘eco-points’), which constitute new business opportunities. The significance of RWE’s biodiversity work for accumulation by restoration lies not only in its profit opportunities but its productive power: the legitimation of coal mining and the making of new, ordered ‘ecologies of repair’. This productive power operates through the mobilising function of RWE’s offsetting work, which forms the foundation for corporate partnerships and alliances with conservation groups and volunteers. These lend legitimacy to RWE’s ‘repair work’ and form the basis for the ecotourism–extraction nexus by turning the mine and its offsets into ‘extractive attractions’ for visitors and ‘nature lovers’. Its power further manifests in the way it captures imaginations through novel imaginaries and narratives of sustainable coal mining, supposedly creating not only a ‘better nature’ but a ‘better future’. Positioning offsetting as social technology of governance, I explore RWE’s spectacular performance of sustainability and the ontological flattening to facilitate claims of commensurability and ‘offsettability’ of nature. These are integral to the ecotourism–extraction nexus and grounded in the belief in the human/corporate ability to recreate nature, a fascination with huge earth-shifting machinery and a commitment to high-modernist ideologies of control.
... This has resulted in an even greater turnover of conservation fads, with each failure explained by simplistic factors, such as lack of implementation capacity or interference of non-market factors in market mechanisms, as opposed to deeper questioning of the solutions themselves and their win-win discourses (Li, 2016;Lund et al., 2017;Redford et al., 2013). Numerous studies have demonstrated the ease and frequency with which organizations manage to 'sell success' despite substantial conservation failures and social harms on the ground (Büscher, 2014;Cavanagh & Benjaminsen, 2014;Mosse, 2004;Moyo, Ijumba, & Lund, 2016;Singh, Liebrand, & Joshi, 2014;Svarstad & Benjaminsen, 2017;To & Dressler, 2019;Warner & van Buuren, 2011). ...
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A growing body of critical research interrogates the tendency within international conservation circles to present interventions as successful, even when evidence points to substantial negative impacts. The flip side of this 'selling' success is a growing emphasis on the importance of embracing and even celebrating failure. Yet this important trend in international conservation policymaking has yet to be examined in depth. We address this research gap by first tracing the origins of the embracing failure narrative, linking it to the historical handling of failure in conservation and in fields such as business management and international development. We then explore the implications of this framing of failure for international conservation policy and practice by examining relevant policy literature and illustrative case studies in Tanzania and Peru. Based on this analysis, we demonstrate how a 'right to fail' can justify both continuing and discontinuing conservation interventions in highly problematic ways. We show how the framing of failure as a positive outcome for global learning can reduce accountability for significant and long-lasting negative consequences of failed interventions. Furthermore, the emphasis on approaches to learning that employ narrow technical frames can depoliticize issues and limit possibilities to fundamentally question and transform dominant conservation models with histories of persistent failure. Consequently, we argue that by affording interventions the 'right to fail', conservation actors with a stake in dominant models have taken control of failure discourse in ways that reinforce instead of undermine their ability to 'sell' success amidst negative (or limited) local outcomes. While it is of course important to acknowledge failure in order not to repeat it, we caution against embracing failure in ways that may further exacerbate conservation injustices and hinder transformative societal change. We advocate instead for an explicitly political approach to addressing failure in conservation.
... Informed by these conceptualizations, studies by Political Ecologists have criticized the structural violence behind an economic functionality of tourism to conservation areas as exemplifying the profit-maximizing logic of the capitalist system feeding into exploitative practices in form of natural and cultural commodification with detrimental effects on local populations (Brockington et al. 2010;Büscher and Fletcher 2017). Specifically engaging with the conservation contexts in the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, other Political Ecologists applied these definitions of violence to call out the direct acts of violence such as beating, rape, imprisonment as well as eviction and dispossession executed by conservation actors against local communities (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014;Clay 2019;Marijnen 2018;Verweijen 2020). ...
... In parallel, the poor execution of NCS could create new trade-offs, particularly when safeguards are not properly designed into voluntary standards. Site-specific forest carbon projects, like some projects promoting reforestation actions for carbon offsetting in Uganda's Mount Elgon National Park, may have historically resulted in uncompensated dispossession of local residents and smallholder farmers (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen, 2014). Such negative consequences can often be avoidable with a careful investigation on a system-wide basis. ...
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We critically examine the tradeoffs and synergies between the UN SDGs and delve into Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) as a possible resolution to these trade-offs. NCS pathways are a combination of conservation, restoration, and improved land management interventions on natural and agricultural lands. Via the provision of ecosystem services, NCS pathways deliver many co-benefits by interconnecting the environmental and human well-being across social, cultural and economic dimensions. We also illustrate the ecosystem service-NCS pathway interconnections based on climate mitigation potential. Overall, we conclude that NCS has the potential to strengthen the linkages between climate mitigation and sustainable development, and make five recommendations to take advantage of the potential NCS may offer in the SDG context.
... Let us have a look at an early use of the carbon market. In 1993, the Dutch foundation 'Forest Absorbing Carbon Emissions' (FACE) started to sell carbon credits from forest plantations at the slopes of Mount Elgon in Uganda (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014). According to the plan, the project should result in the capturing of 3.73 million tons CO 2 from 1994 to 2034, but already in 2003, the project fell apart. ...
Chapter
Continuing the focus on conservation, this chapter introduces feminist political ecologies, which combine elements of feminist thinking and political ecology. Studies in countries in the Global South tend to reveal large gender inequalities in local governance on questions about conservation, and the chapter provides examples of such inequalities from Senegal, India and Nepal. In the Global North, however, many take it for granted that women have gained a high degree of equity in political representation in all fields. However, through studies of local representation in processes to extend protected areas, the chapter shows how rural Norwegian women have systematically been denied their legal rights of representation. The use of a ‘chain of explanations’ reveals how elements from different local and national levels together have caused this discrimination.
Article
The making and survival of capitalist conservation depends upon the creation and maintenance of contradictory class relations based on alienated labour. The literature has, however, often ignored this aspect. Looking at capital as a contradictory class relation and through the study of a tourism-oriented protected area and three reforestation payment for ecosystem service projects in Senegal, this article shows how capital’s instrumentalisation of conservation requires a constant adaption to workers’ struggles against alienation. In the case here analysed, this adap- tation manifests in the avoidance, silencing and appropriation of workers’ mobilisations against forest privatisation and labour exploitation. This resistance to workers’ disalienation reinforces not only capitalist class relations but also state, neo-colonial and white people’s power.
Article
Although many governments, financial institutions, and corporations are embracing nature-based solutions as part of their sustainability and net-zero carbon strategies, some nations, Indigenous peoples, local community groups, and grassroots organizations have rejected this term. This pushback is fueled by (i) critical uncertainties about when, where, how, and for whom nature-based solutions are effective and (ii) controversies surrounding their misuse in greenwashing, violations of human rights, and threats to biodiversity. To clarify how the scientific community can help address these issues, I provide an overview of recent research on the benefits and limits of nature-based solutions, including how they compare with technological approaches, and highlight critical areas for future research.
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This chapter demonstrates how choices of climate mitigation may be examined in critical and constructive political ecology contributions. Based on ideas of ‘international cost-effectiveness’, some governments in the Global North aim to outsource climate mitigation to countries in the Global South. Typically, this happens through forest-based conservation under the label REDD. The chapter presents a case study of a Norwegian REDD project in Tanzania, and argues that in-depth case studies provide crucial knowledge for decision-making on issues such as REDD, although this is not prioritized by governments providing the funding for REDD. In addition, leading discourses on REDD, carbon trade, and climate mitigation are discussed, and the chapter also shows how Norway’s climate policy has become significantly influenced by the fossil fuel lobby.
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Interest in carbon offsetting is resurging among companies and institutions, but existing offerings fail to make continued use of fossil fuels compatible with a credible transition to sustainable net zero emissions. A clear definition of what makes an offset net-zero-compliant is needed. We introduce the ‘proset’, a new form of composite offset in which the fraction of carbon allocated to geological-timescale storage options increases progressively, reaching 100% by the target net zero date, generating predictable demand for effectively permanent CO 2 storage while making the most of the near-term opportunities provided by nature-based climate solutions, all at an affordable cost to the offset purchaser.
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The establishment of protected areas (PAs) is often promoted as an effective way to address environmental degradation and the loss of certain endangered species. PAs are typically predicated on the fortress conservation philosophy that perceives human habitation as a contributory factor to biodiversity loss. Thus, to offset the rate of biodiversity loss and minimise anthropogenic impacts, there has been a resurgence of the creation of strictly protected conservation areas. Nation-states have renewed their PA creation strategies and set aside portions of land to protect unique species and habitats. However, the strict protectionist paradigm that underpins PAs is unjust and unethical, as is more clearly the case when it is associated with the resettlement of human populations from conservation spaces. Strict conservation strategies also have adverse impacts on the livelihoods of the rural poor and may lead to their impoverishment, social disarticulation and political disempowerment. This research examines the resettlement of the indigenous Basarwa peoples from their traditional homelands for the establishment of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana. The research uses a case study approach to scrutinise the implementation of the resettlement policy and to understand its impacts on the displaced Basarwa communities. To inform this evaluation, the study explores Michel Foucault's biopolitical theory and reveals the extent to which nation-states assert power over human mobility and the populations affected by the creation of PAs. Although the CKGR resettlement was intended for biodiversity conservation and rural development, the government justified the intervention on the basis of certain benefit flows in favour of the Basarwa. Yet, the Basarwa were disenfranchised by their loss of resource territories, the disruption of their traditional activities, social exclusion and political disempowerment. Their life changes have also been transformed through greater exposure to disease, impoverishment and alcoholism.
Article
Offsetting is widely embraced as a market-based solution to global warming. Governments, universities, and businesses of all sorts have pledged to achieve “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions partly or entirely through offsetting projects, many of which rely on so-called nature-based solutions (NBSs). Offsets are meant to compensate for damage caused by emissions from one place by absorbing or preventing the release of an equivalent amount somewhere else. At best, offsetting results in no change in total emissions, but as theory predicts and experience shows, that best result is rarely attainable. Meanwhile, both land-based and industrial offsets legitimize continued emissions. There is active debate in Paris-pact talks and in climate politics more broadly over how much fossil-fuel industries and industrial countries will be allowed to delay real climate action by representing offsets as if they were emissions reductions. The American Association of Geographers should not contribute to this illusion by endorsing offsetting. Instead we should take steps to reduce our own emissions and speak out clearly when our work has bearing on policy decisions and public perceptions about the climate crisis.
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In this chapter, I would like to take stock of the situation in broad terms upon the historical link that unites geography and philosophy. This review will identify therefore some stages of a common historical framework, from antiquity to the present day. Of course, these two knowledges did not always dialogue, indeed. However, today geographers are now able to converse on equal terms with philosophers, and work on critically and theoretically wide-ranging theories, issues, and topics. Currently, in the Anthropocene era, marked by the awareness of the common destiny of humanity and Earth, geography and philosophy form a rich field of discussion. It is impossible to predict where this debate will lead to; however, there is hope that both geographers and philosophers will be able to take advantage from it in their investigations.
Article
Markets in carbon offsetting have, since their inception, been defended by their proponents as ‘experiments’ when it comes to the scale and the scope of their purpose of governing climate mitigation. Yet, different counter-narratives or ‘tales of defiance’ have been mounted as critiques of offsetting. This article focuses in particular on a tale of defiance, which continually has dismissed offsetting as a form of indulgence payment. While acknowledging that there are clear similarities between offsets and indulgence payments, the article argues that the indulgence payment metaphor glosses over the complexity of both types of transactions. The historical development of indulgence payments in the past demonstrates the difficulty of using them as simple models for understanding the problems inherent to offsetting, even if both types of transactions have been controversial. The debates over carbon offsetting continue to evolve, however, and recent developments seem to suggest a third tale, where the funding of emission-reducing projects are seen as donations of development aid, instead of being assumed to compensate for the donor’s emissions.
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This Handbook provides an essential guide to the study of resources and their role in socioenvironmental change. With original contributions from more than 60 authors with expertise in a wide range of resource types and world regions, it offers a toolkit of conceptual and methodological approaches for documenting, analyzing, and reimagining resources and the worlds with which they are entangled. The volume has an introduction and four thematic sections. The introductory chapter outlines key trajectories for thinking critically with and about resources. Chapters in Section I, “(Un)Knowing Resources,” offer distinct epistemological entry points and approaches for studying resources. Chapters in Section II, “(Un)Knowing Resource Systems,” examine the components and logics of the capitalist systems through which resources are made, circulated, consumed, and disposed of, while chapters in Section III, “Doing Critical Resource Geography: Methods, Advocacy, and Teaching,” focus on the practices of critical resource scholarship, exploring the opportunities and challenges of carrying out engaged forms of research and pedagogy. Chapters in Section IV, “Resource-Making/World-Making,” use case studies to illustrate how things are made into resources and how these processes of resource-making transform socio-environmental life. This vibrant and diverse critical resource scholarship provides an indispensable reference point for researchers, students, and practitioners interested in understanding how resources matter to the world and to the systems, conflicts, and debates that make and remake it.
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Over the past two decades, the incorporation of market logics into environment and conservation policy has led to a reconceptualization of “nature.” Resulting constructs like ecosystem services and biodiversity derivatives, as well as finance mechanisms like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, species banking, and carbon trading, offer new avenues for accumulation and set the context for new enclosures. As these practices have become more apparent, geographers have been at the forefront of interdisciplinary research that has highlighted the effects of “green grabs”—in which “green credentials” are used to justify expropriation of land and resources—in specific locales. While case studies have begun to reveal the social and ecological marginalization associated with green grabs and the implementation of market mechanisms in particular sites, less attention has been paid to the systemic dimensions and “logics” mobilizing these projects. Yet, the emergence of these constructs reflects a larger transformation in international environmental governance—one in which the discourse of global ecology has accommodated an ontology of natural capital, culminating in the production of what is taking shape as “The Green Economy.” The Green Economy is not a natural or coincidental development, but is contingent upon, and coordinated by, actors drawn together around familiar and emergent institutions of environmental governance. Indeed, the terrain for green grabbing is increasingly cultivated through relationships among international environmental policy institutions, organizations, activists, academics, and transnational capitalist and managerial classes.
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Global green grabs are facilitated by a logic in which environmental damage of economic growth is putatively mitigated by environmental repair elsewhere (Fairhead, Leach, and Scoones 2012:242). A remarkably similar logic informs green consumption, whereby "the very consumerist act buys your redemption from being a consumer" (Žižek 2009).1 Indeed, experiences of consumer redemption are visually linked to environmental repair at a distance. While direct causation between these experiences and grabbing green are practically impossible to discern, their parallels and interactions reflect larger shifts in the political ecology of capitalism. I situate these parallels and interactions in my introduction, before turning in detail to visually mediated relationships between consumers and conservation, based on promises of redemption and repair.I conclude with the relationships of green consumption to realignments of conservation and capitalism, and their implications for environmental awareness and collective political action.
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We analyze institutional challenges for a joint transboundary protected area regime. Employing the case of Mt Elgon in Uganda and Kenya, we use the concepts of fit and interplay to guide our examination in the challenges of the establishment of a transboundary protected area management (TBPAM) regime. Although transboundary regimes are thought to provide better fit for the resources, fitness is a contested phenomenon. The findings are critical to the perceived benefits of the TBPAM strategy in the form of one, fully integrated regional regime. We reveal how such a regime will be seriously constrained by the interplay of complex institutional factors. We moreover find evidence that TBPAM entails a reintroduction of the old top-down conservation paradigms, counteracting the community conservation attempts. Therefore, policy makers are encouraged to approach critically the daunting exercise of a continuum of TBPAM governance toward fully integrated management within a joint TBPAM regime. Instead, the focus should be on identifying the issues that are truly transboundary in nature and construct governance structures that directly address these. In this paper we suggest that policy makers carry out a clear institutional analysis: disaggregate the real transboundary objects, identify common interests, and look for appropriate content and levels of cooperation. It is no panacea to establish an integrated transboundary regime, even if two protected areas happen to be adjoining.
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This U4 Brief extracts lessons from recent Ugandan experiences with conservation areas and corruption. A case involving the World Bank/Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Ugandan Ministry of Trade, Tourism, and Industry (MoTTI), and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), illuminates how corrupt processes can unfold across multiple governance levels in the Ugandan context. Based on qualitative fieldwork, it offers monitoring and evaluation considerations for donors seeking to support both schemes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and other conservation efforts in East Africa. Climate change, biodiversity decline, and deforestation present donors with an implementation paradox. In order to mitigate these processes, development agencies fund governments and civil society groups to manage significant portions of Sub-Saharan Africa's forest resources. Simultaneously, donors are aware both of the management challenges faced by many of these same actors and of experiences with corruption in the region's natural resource sectors. East African countries that score highest on biodiversity, wildlife, and forest indices – Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda – have also been ranked as corrupt and poorly governed states.
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Carbon forestry represents a degree of continuity and discontinuity with traditional conservation practices, rescripting forestry management/governance and land access through projects on the ground in variegated, context-dependent ways. Utilising the comparative lens of two distinct projects operating on state-led protected areas in the east of Uganda, and focusing on their contested boundaries, this paper reflects on these dynamics and tries to make sense of the implications for the rural communities within the project vicinities. The projects and their framings reassert the claims to territory of the state in different ways which are contingent upon and emergent from the local institutional and historical context, or ‘legacies of the land’, which can be seen in context to be disputed and contested. Whilst it must be said that there can be selectively progressive elements within carbon forestry initiatives, it can be observed that techno-centric interventions, which depoliticise their local contexts and selectively transnationalise access to land and forestry resources, can further marginalise local communities in the process.
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In this paper I emphasise the financialisation of environmental conservation as 1. the turning of financiers to conservation parameters as a new frontier for investment, and 2. the rewriting of conservation practice and nonhuman worlds in terms of banking and financial categories. I introduce financialisation as a broadly controlling impetus with relevance for environmental conservation. I then note ways in which a spectacular investment frontier in conservation is being opened. I highlight the draw of assertions of lucrative gains, combined with notions of geographical substitutability, in creating tradable indicators of environmental health and harm. I disaggregate financialisation strategies into four categories — nature finance, nature work, nature banking and nature derivatives — and assess their implications. The concluding section embraces Marx and Foucault as complementary thinkers in understanding the transforming intensifications of late capitalism in environmental conservation, and diagnosing their associated effects and costs.
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Transboundary protected area governance is on the rise in Africa. There is still a scarcity of well-documented success stories on how to design and deliver institutionally consistent transboundary outcomes concerning biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods. This article focuses on institutional challenges of such governance at the local stakeholder level on Mt. Elgon in Uganda and Kenya. A stakeholder analysis was conducted in border communities to analyze institutional frameworks of different protected area regimes coordinating local people's forest resources access, focusing on rights, returns, relationships, and responsibilities at the local stakeholder level. On the basis of the analyses we find that institutional complexities constrain an ideal of joint transboundary protected area management regime with a joint approach to local livelihood improvements. If institutional complexities lead to a lower priority on other concerns than biodiversity conservation in transboundary protected area programs in Africa, there may be an erosion of future support for such programs.
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Demands for economic growth are often visibly at odds with public concerns about what this growth portends for the future of our planet. In this context the production and dissemination of images not only shape people’s perceptions of the world, but mediate social and human—environmental relationships. Debord saw such mediation as a central feature of late capitalism, in which images become commodities alienated from the relationships that produced them and consumed in ignorance of the same. As biodiversity conservation and capitalism become increasingly intertwined, human— environmental relationships are being spectacularized in a proliferating smorgasbord of images and media. This article presents a theoretical framework for thinking about these transformations as they pertain to biodiversity conservation, consumerism and the environmental contradictions of global neoliberalism. I then use fieldwork from Tanzania to demonstrate the value of this approach. I conclude by discussing the larger social and theoretical implications of this material.
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This paper traces the institutionalization of Environmentalism as a precondition for the production of 'The Green Economy,' particularly the containment of the oppositional possibilities of an environmentalist politics within the institutional and organizational terrain of a transnational managerial and capitalist class. This is a context in which many environmental organizations – once the site of planning, mobilizing and implementing opposition and resistance to the environmentally destructive practices of corporate industrialism – have become part of a new project of accumulation grounded in enclosure, access and the production and exchange of new environmental commodities. This transformation reflects what Sloterdijk (1988) has termed cynical reason – an enlightened false consciousness; and my concern in the paper is to think through 'The Green Economy' and its coin-cident instrumental ethics as an iteration of cynical reason and an expression of institutionalized power. Specifically, I focus on the development of 'global environmental governance' as a statist project that concentrates sanctioning authority and resource allocation in centers of accumulation (e.g., the Convention on Biological Diversity and its funding mechanism the Global Environment Facility) and facilitates the containment of Environmentalism as an oppositional politics through demands that it assume conventional forms of organization, projectification and professionalisation and through facilitating a redefinition and redeployment that shifts environmentalism from a space of hope to an instrumentalist mechanism in rationalist projects of accumulation.
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The unfolding of a juridico-cadastral system in present-day Cambodia is at odds with local understandings of landholding, which are entrenched in notions of community consensus and existing occupation. The discrepancy between such orally recognized antecedents and the written word of law have been at the heart of the recent wave of dispossessions that has swept across the country. Contra the standard critique that corruption has set the tone, this paper argues that evictions in Cambodia are often literally underwritten by the articles of law. Whereas 'possession' is a well-understood and accepted concept in Cambodia, a cultural basis rooted in what James C. Scott refers to as 'orality', coupled with a long history of subsistence agriculture, semi-nomadic lifestyles, barter economies and – until recently – widespread land availability have all ensured that notions of 'property' are vague among the country's majority rural poor. In drawing a firm distinction between possessions and property, where the former is premised upon actual use and the latter is embedded in exploitation, this paper examines how proprietorship is inextricably bound to the violence of law.
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This article shows how wildlife and marine conservation in Tanzania lead to forms of ‘green’ or ‘blue grabbing’. Dispossession of local people's land and resources has been gradual and piecemeal in some cases, while it involved violence in other cases. It does not primarily take the usual form of privatization of land. The spaces involved are still formally state or village land. It is rather the benefits from the land and natural resources that contribute to capital accumulation by more powerful actors (rent-seeking state officials, transnational conservation organizations, tourism companies, and the State Treasury). In both cases, restrictions on local resource use are justified by degradation narratives, while financial benefits from tourism are drained from local communities within a system lacking in transparent information sharing. Contrary to other forms of primitive accumulation, this dispossession is not primarily for wage labour or linked to creation of a labour reserve. It is the wide-open spaces without its users that are valued by conservation organizations and the tourism industry. The introduction of ‘community-based conservation’ worked as a key mechanism for accumulation by dispossession allowing conservation a foothold in village lands. This foothold produced the conditions under which subsequent dispossessions could take place.
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‘Green grabs,’ or the expropriation of land or resources for environmental purposes, constitute an important component of the current global land grab explosion. We argue that international environmental institutions are increasingly cultivating the terrain for green grabbing. As sites that circulate and sanction forms of knowledge, establish regulatory devices and programmatic targets, and align and articulate actors with these mechanisms, they structure emergent green market opportunities and practices. Drawing on the idea of primitive accumulation as a continual process, we examine the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity as one such institution.
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In this article we unpack the ‘black box’ of carbon offsetting through a critical examination of the technologies and techniques that create carbon credits. Drawing on empirical research of compliance (Clean Development Mechanism) and voluntary carbon offset markets, we highlight the diversity of technologies, techniques and devices involved in carbon offsetting, ranging from refrigerant plants to systems of calculation and audit. We suggest that polarised debates for and against offsetting do not adequately reflect the considerable variations between types of offset project and governance practices in the compliance and voluntary offset markets. Using conceptual insights from governmentality theory and science and technology studies we assess the tensions in making standard, fungible carbon credits. In conclusion, we suggest attention to the technologies and materiality of carbon offsetting allows a fresh perspective on somewhat entrenched debates about the advantages and disadvantages of offsetting.
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In agrarian societies land is not only the main means for generating a livelihood, it is also a means to accumulate wealth and transfer it between generations. In Uganda, it is a basic source of food, employment, a key agricultural input and a major determinant of a farmer's access to other productive resources. The nature of land tenure, therefore, has profound implications for the development process of nations. As the historical experience of Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa indicates, land tenure can either impede or facilitate positive socio-economic change in a given economy. The Land Act (1998), which aims at reforming land tenure relations in Uganda, is therefore one of the most far-reaching legislation enacted by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government. The new tenure system aims at supporting agricultural development through the functioning of a land market, establishing security of tenure and ensuring sustainable utilisation of land in order to bring about development. This paper discusses three major issues. First, the extent to which the new Land Act (1998) ensures security of tenure to the peasant majority in the country. Second, the issue of its capacity to resolve the long-run contestation between the mailo landowners and tenants (bibanja) holders. And third, the ambiguities and difficulties facing the Act in the process of its implementation must be confronted. The article is based on the textual analysis of the various land laws in Uganda historically. The literature brings out several constraints and ambiguities regarding the land reform process in Uganda. Africa Development Vol. 31(1) 2006: 1-26
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ABSTRACT Nature™ Inc. describes the increasingly dominant way of thinking about environmental policy and biodiversity conservation in the early twenty‐first century. Nature is, and of course has long been, ‘big business’, especially through the dynamics of extracting from, polluting and conserving it. As each of these dynamics seems to have become more intense and urgent, the capitalist mainstream is seeking ways to off‐set extraction and pollution and find (better) methods of conservation, while increasing opportunities for the accumulation of capital and profits. This has taken Nature™ Inc. to new levels, in turn triggering renewed attention from critical scholarship. The contributions to this Debate section all come from a critical perspective and have something important to say about the construction, workings and future of Nature™ Inc. By discussing the incorporation of trademarked nature and connecting what insights the contributions bring to the debate, we find that there might be what we call an intensifying dialectic between change and limits influencing the relations between capitalism and nature. Our conclusion briefly points to some of the issues and questions that this dialectic might lead to in future research on neoliberal conservation and market‐based environmental policy.
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Protected areas (PAs) are a country's key strategy to conserve and manage forest resources. In sub-Saharan Africa, the effectiveness and efficiency of PA institutions in delivering sustainable outcomes is debated, however, and deforestation has not been avoided within such formal regimes. This paper analyzes the processes that led to deforestation within the PAs on the transboundary Mt. Elgon, Uganda–Kenya, employing institutional theory. Landsat satellite imagery helped identify and quantify forest loss over time. The study showed how, since 1973, about a third of all forests within the PAs on Elgon have been cleared in successive processes. Within formal protected area regimes, complex political and institutional factors drive forest loss. We argue, therefore, that policies to counter deforestation using a PA model have to be considered and understood against the broader background of these factors, originating both inside and outside the PA regimes.
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Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is being proclaimed as “a new direction in forest conservation” (Anglesen, 2009: 125). This financial incentives-based climate change mitigation strategy proposed by the UNEP, World Bank, GEF and environmental NGOs seeks to integrate forests into carbon sequestration schemes. Its proponents view REDD+ as part of an adaptive strategy to counter the effects of global climate change. This paper combines the theoretical approaches of market environmentalism and environmental narratives to examine the politics of environmental knowledge that are redefining socio-nature relations in the Rufiji Delta, Tanzania to make mangrove forests amenable to markets. Through a case study of a “REDD-readiness” climate change mitigation and adaptation project, we demonstrate how a shift in resource control and management from local to global actors builds upon narratives of environmental change (forest loss) that have little factual basis in environmental histories. We argue that the proponents of REDD+ (Tanzanian state, aid donors, environmental NGOs) underestimate the agency of forest-reliant communities who have played a major role in the making of the delta landscape and who will certainly resist the injustices they are facing as a result of this shift from community-based resource management to fortress conservation.
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Despite a decade of rhetoric on community conservation, current trends in Tanzania reflect a disturbing process of reconsolidation of state control over wildlife resources and increased rent-seeking behaviour, combined with dispossession of communities. Whereas the 1998 Wildlife Policy promoted community participation and local benefits, the subsequent policy of 2007 and theWildlife Conservation Act of 2009 returned control over wildlife and over income from sport hunting and safari tourism to central government. These trends, which sometimes include the use of state violence and often take place in the name of ‘community-based’ conservation, are not, however, occurring without resistance from communities. This article draws on indepth studies of wildlife management practices at three locations in northern Tanzania to illustrate these trends. The authors argue that this outcome is more than just the result of the neoliberalization of conservation. It reflects old patterns of state patrimony and rent seeking, combined with colonial narratives of conservation, all enhanced through neoliberal reforms of the past two decades. At the same time, much of the rhetoric of neoliberal reforms is being pushed back by the state in order to capture rent and interact with villagers in new and oppressive ways.
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Land questions have invigorated agrarian studies and economic history, with particular emphases on its control, since Marx. Words such as ‘exclusion’, ‘alienation’, ‘expropriation’, ‘dispossession’, and ‘violence’ describe processes that animate land histories and those of resources, property rights, and territories created, extracted, produced, or protected on land. Primitive and on-going forms of accumulation, frontiers, enclosures, territories, grabs, and racializations have all been associated with mechanisms for land control. Agrarian environments have been transformed by processes of de-agrarianization, protected area establishment, urbanization, migration, land reform, resettlement, and re-peasantization. Even the classic agrarian question of how agriculture is influenced by capitalism has been reformulated multiple times at transformative conjunctures in the historical trajectories of these processes, reviving and producing new debates around the importance of land control.The authors in this collection focus primarily on new frontiers of land control and their active creation. These frontiers are sites where authorities, sovereignties, rights, and hegemonies of the recent past have been challenged by new enclosures, property regimes, and territorializations, producing new ‘urban-agrarian-natured’ environments, comprised of new labor and production processes; new actors, subjects, and networks connecting them; and new legal and violent means of challenging previous land controls. Some cases augment analytic tools that had seemed to have timeless applicability with new frameworks, concepts, and theoretical tools.What difference does land control make? These contributions to the debates demonstrate that the answers have been shaped by conflicts, contexts, histories, and agency, as land has been struggled over for livelihoods, revenue production, and power.
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Protected forests are sometimes encroached by surrounding communities. But patterns of cover change can vary even within one given setting – understanding these complexities can offer insights into the effective maintenance of forest cover. Using satellite image analyses together with historical information, population census data and interviews with local informants, we analysed the drivers of forest cover change in three periods between 1973 and 2009 on Mt Elgon, Uganda. More than 25% of the forest cover of the Mt Elgon Forest Reserve/National Park was lost in 35 years. In periods when law enforcement was weaker, forest clearing was greatest in areas combining a dense population and people who had become relatively wealthy from coffee production. Once stronger law enforcement was re-established forest recovered in most places. Collaborative management agreements between communities and the park authorities were associated with better forest recovery, but deforestation continued in other areas with persistent conflicts about park boundaries. These conflicts were associated with profitability of annual crops and political interference. The interplay of factors originating at larger scales (government policy, market demand, political agendas and community engagement) resulted in a “back-and-forth” of clearing and regrowth. Our study reveals that the context (e.g. law enforcement, collaborative management, political interference) under which drivers such as population, wealth, market access and commodity prices operate, rather than the drivers per se, determines impacts on forest cover. Conservation and development interventions need to recognize and address local factors within the context and conditionalities generated by larger scale external influences.
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In this essay contemporary Marxist writings on the commodification of nature in capitalist societies are reviewed systematically. Recent research on commodities in human geography, cultural studies and related fields have been largely post or non-Marxist in tenor and have paid relatively little attention to the ‘natural’ dimensions of commodities. By contrast, recent Marxist writings about capitalism-nature relations have tried to highlight both the specificity of capitalist commodification and its effects on ecologies and bodies. This fact notwithstanding, it is argued that the explanatory and normative dimensions of this Marxist work are, respectively, at risk of being misunderstood and remain largely implicit. On the explanatory side, confusion arises because the words ‘commodification’ and ‘nature’ are used by different Marxists to refer to different things that deserve to be disentangled. On the normative side, the Marxian criticisms of nature's commodification are rarely explicit and often assumed to be self-evident. The essay offers a typology of commodification processes relating to specific natures with specific effects to which a variety of criticisms can be applied. Though essentially exegetical rather than reconstructive, the essay tries to pave the way for a more precise sense of how the commodification of nature in capitalist societies works and why it might be deemed to be problematic.
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Emissions trading is rife with controversy and the potential for exacerbating environmental and social injustice. The changes necessary to avert climate catastrophe are simple enough, namely, a switch away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy like solar and wind, along with a reduction in energy use generally. Instead, world leaders have taken ten years to agree to inadequate targets and the deeply flawed mechanism of emissions trading. Although emissions trading is represented as part of the solution, it is actually a part of the problem itself. Despite the scope and gravity of the dangers posed by greenhouse gases, and the major role of emissions trading in compounding them, this arrangement has not been seriously challenged in any international forum. The continuing acquiescence toward emissions trading is not an accident or bureaucratic oversight. The smooth sailing of this arrangement is attributable to the arm-twisting tactics of the richer nations and their constituencies of corporate polluters whenever global treaties are hammered out. The failure of the Kyoto Protocol to deal adequately and effectively with climate change is also representative of wider issues of democratic decision-making and symptomatic of the injustices that permeate international relationships between peoples.
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A wheel turns because of its encounter with the surface of the road; spinning in the air it goes nowhere. Rubbing two sticks together produces heat and light; one stick alone is just a stick. In both cases, it is friction that produces movement, action, effect. Challenging the widespread view that globalization invariably signifies a "clash" of cultures, anthropologist Anna Tsing here develops friction in its place as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that make up our contemporary world. She focuses on one particular "zone of awkward engagement"--the rainforests of Indonesia--where in the 1980s and the 1990s capitalist interests increasingly reshaped the landscape not so much through corporate design as through awkward chains of legal and illegal entrepreneurs that wrested the land from previous claimants, creating resources for distant markets. In response, environmental movements arose to defend the rainforests and the communities of people who live in them. Not confined to a village, a province, or a nation, the social drama of the Indonesian rainforest includes local and national environmentalists, international science, North American investors, advocates for Brazilian rubber tappers, UN funding agencies, mountaineers, village elders, and urban students, among others--all combining in unpredictable, messy misunderstandings, but misunderstandings that sometimes work out.
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1. Neoliberalism and the environmentNeoliberalism is the most powerful ideological andpolitical project in global governance to arise in thewake of Keynesianism, a status conveyed by trium-phalist phrases such as ‘‘the Washington consensus’’ andthe ‘‘end of history’’ (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985; Jessop,1994; Harvey, 2000; Peck, 2001). Yet the neoliberalproject is not hegemonic: it has been roundly criticizedand attacked, and it has faltered in a number of respects.In fact, the most nakedly extreme forms of neoliberalstate rollbacks and market triumphalism may well bepast, beaten back in places by virulent resistance (asurprise to those who believed history was at an end);undermined by the spectacular failures of neoliberalreforms judged even by the standards of neoliberalchampions (as in Argentina, for example); and replacedby ‘‘kinder, gentler,’’ Third Way variants (Peck andTickell, 2002).Neoliberalism’s adventures and misadventures areincreasingly well-chronicled,
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This article expounds the traditional Marxist theory of the contradiction between forces and relations of production, over production of capital and economic crisis, and the process of crisis-induced restructuring of productive forces and production relations into more transparently social, hence potentially socialist, forms. This exposition provides a point of departure for an “ecological Marxist” theory of the contradiction between capitalist production relations and forces and the conditions of production, underproduction of capital and economic crisis, and the process of crisis-induced restructuring of production conditions and the social relations thereof also into more transparently social, hence potentially socialist, forms. In short, there may be not one but two paths to socialism in late capitalist society. While the two processes of capital overproduction and underproduction are by no means mutually exclusive, they may offset or compensate for one another in ways which create the appearance of relatively stable processes of capitalist development. Study of the combination of the two processes in the contemporary world may throw light on the decline of traditional labor and socialist movements and the rise of “new social movements” as agencies of social transformation. In similar ways that traditional Marxism illuminates the practises of traditional labor movements, it may be that “ecological Marxism” throws light on the practices of new social movements. Although ecology and nature; the politics of the body, feminism, and the family; and urban movements and related topics are usually discussed in post-Marxist terms, the rhetoric deployed in this article is self-consciously Marxist and designed to appeal to Marxist theorists and fellow travelers whose work remains within a “scientific” discourse hence those who are least likely to be convinced by post-Marxist discussions of the problem of capital’s use and abuse of nature (including human nature) in the modem world. However, the emphasis in this article on a political economic “scientific” discourse is tactical, not strategic. In reality, more or less autonomous social relationships, often non-capitalist or anti-capitalist, constitute “civil society,” which needs to be addressed on its own practical and theoretical terms. In other words, social and collective action is not meant to be construed merely as derivative of systemic forces, as the last section of the article hopefully will make clear.