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Abstract

Chinese investments in large hydropower dams have rapidly increased all over the world in the last 20 years. Some of these projects have been contested both from a technological and political point of view due to the ways in which decisions have been made, as well as in relation to the resulting social-ecological change and ecological distributional aspects. From an Environmental Justice perspective, this paper analyses the main drivers and contested aspects of Chinese hydropower investments in the global South. The paper builds on Chinese projects located in different regions of the world, by combining information from the literature and the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice – EJAtlas dataset. Based on the analysis of Chinese hydropower projects and environmental justice concerns, this paper sheds light on the current literature on drivers and multidimensional conflictive outcomes of these large hydropower dam investments.

                
 !


    !"#  $!% & 
'$'%
!()!*"+*,
  " -        
./-0
12(345"6766+6
#$%
(,8*898
&
          "        *    
*,*:"*
: ;2<6 !* "*,  *",  .=> 
*?33@4?32@,*"",*A>$1
"      )5
*5BB,,,6,"6"BBBB*,B%6  CD    6
;2<    *  A3>    *            
*,,,6
 *  ?333 * 1 '+ , * " E  "4
*,,6(,
*              ,*  "  
;?<*";.FF<*,
"*2==3G,6?333*
    +    "      "  *,  
    *+          *  H
,****?333I-"4J"*
?32.I')J;A<6!*" **,0
;@<6
!*""*4,'+$'%
$%    ,          ""    ,    
  ,***H  E
  *    "  ;/FF<6  "    *      
    *    ""    *,  $    
?32K%=/>**,G*
      ?333  ;A<6      *  "    G  *  
0  *      ""  4"  *"
"  G
";KL=23F22F2?F2.FF2A2@FF2/FF<6
*,:*D+
*  4  "    "  *"    *
"*"*61D*
**M""
  *    G      N  "    *  ,    "
  *  -        9  $9  
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
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*    *  + 
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$!2%61*A3>*,*G
*  *  ""*H  *
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;A<6
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*, G $    %  " ?33/4
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E @= 2
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  ! ? , "* , I*J  IJ  
*  4" N" , E  
*I*J*+*,
IJ***",*
*,6
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  *  .  
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.1
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IP"*J
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*""
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*  ,  
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(      *  -
*
      *  ""
4"  *"


  "    
*"  Q    
O*$O%G
""2===*-""*,**M?332
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 ) J *  ?32.   : *  
  "      *,  " *  4  I+4
)'J$)'%*4IO+)J$O)%6!*
+",
  +        :      4    
*  "*          "  ,
**6**,
"*****
*)*O;2K2LF<6
!* " * N 5    "6
R,****"
*",
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,%"";2K@2=<6R
,*****E+
,++
,*  *"*    :    N    *    *  *,
;?32@FF<6!*:**,E*"*
    *  +              
"*"**4,+
,4E*:'+*;/FF<
  *  +  )  R       *  ,  
+*'+$'%6O*
*  *,               
D "* * -" 
,***";2@FF<6**
*  4"  * "     
;?3<6  R  :  *        *,     
+"**,**
**N
,""*;?32LF<6
!*"**,
+"*+","
*",;2LF??
?.  ?A  ?@<  $9    )5 *5BBG6"BDB*"44
8 9    )5 *5BBG6"BDB444
,44%6**
*I4"*J,****4
,***
;?/82@<6!*N*
1*"H**1
'+OR,**
    "  E         $6"6  *
"*%;?K<6
,*
" E,* , 4 *  *
        ,*  *                "
*,   + *    
,*""",*
"          *  *  ,      *
        "    G  $!  ?%  ;2@FF  ?2F  ?L<6
(,                  
      *"  "  "    ,      
  *"*  *    PM  4N"  *  
  O*  $O%          *"*  *  -
R;?=<6**"*"*G*O
        "  *,        
0*;.3.2<6*"*
*""**O;.?..<6
   *    " "
 " ,    * ;.A .@<6 S
            *,    *  
"  *    P    OH0      "4  
, +   46 R     , "
        I,          
"*""J;./<,
6
26*
2
G"*,
","*E;?L.K.L.=A3A2.FF@3/A<6O","
"*,*"**
,**"D;.FF<6*D
      G      *  ,  *,  
E        "          N  
"    ,          66  *,      ,
**4+";A?A.2/FF<6
  G              G  
G;/@//F/K<6G*
*0,*"
+**,0
TMT"M6G
   4+"        *    ;//F  /K<6
*"  "  *         "    
      *  G ;//F<6 
*"G*",**
*0*E"
  $*    "  G%    ,        
"4+" $*"G%;/L/=<6
*"O$?32L%"***,
          "  *        
"*""*
;K?<6
***
,H
"  "  ;2@FF<6    !  .  ,          *  
      *,    *  *      
      G     D  ,  4
*"6
+ 7 D    *,   *
"4*
 #$6
-"* "$+%
)4
!
"$6"6"
%
) 


-, 
!G

4$%
"
O""*
,

!*" !:++,"

 *
*
)"N,,
(

!*        "    *        H  
:  "   G  ;A@<6
*H"**H
*  4    $  G  %    *  0
    E  ,      N  ""*  
$  G  %  ;A.<      ,      
,;AAFF<6
!*""*,G"
H  *            *      
"    "*        D    E    *
"*"*6R*'+
    O          *    '  ,"  *
    6  23333  "  *          ""
",*"P-;A/AKF ALF<
$9)5*5BBG6"BDB%6S
+,"***EE,
:O*'+ "6*
*,          4        *
    0  0          *  
"M-*;K3K2<6
"  *        E  *      "  
              *    GE    "  
    ,        6        "
*,  G    *  "  *  +        "
;A=F@3F<6*D*
,***"
   :       
"    ;@2F  A/<6  !*    +    G
:**P"*O
,**=3>*:*
*  "M        OM  ","  "  6  
H  "  *      *  *    $9 
)5 *5BBG6"BDB"4*444*4,44*44
 G%6
"  *,      *  "  *    *  
  D  *   ,  ,
"*" * *O+"' ;2LF @?<6
U  *M "   * O+" 
",
 ",*,;22F<6
)  "  * 
  *        "4
*,  G                  *  
6?32L6)**"*
4+"G*H
***""
      *  H      *  V  H    !GW
*,;?.<  -*  ' ;??<
         4  
;?A<6

              *
N"G*G"4
+";A.<6O*"4
" G ;@.<6R 
*          ,*  *      4
    $%    "  ,+   
"4""*
,*4+";?<6
R"*"***
"* " * *  "6!* 
*,**;L<,**
*6P*
*""*
E"  *  66 '  !
$'!% ""    $% 6  
    $+  %  *          *
    *    ,*  *  *    + *    
"*"***"
  *  "  *"        
* 6  '! "*
4"      *        
        :*"    "  "*        
?34A3;@AF<6!***+*,*
***"6
"    ) *  
       G * 
*,          '!      *
    G  6  "  *        *  
  0    "4    *  '!        
      "6  !*  *"*"*  *  *"    *
      *      *     , 
 ,* "**   ,+;@AF
2.FF<6
  :    *      *  *        ,*  ,
,+;/FFL<6!**?33K
*, *  ,    ?32?6 9  ,
  *        N    "    *
  *    +"      
"    "    ;@2F  @@F<6    *      
  *    *  '      -*    '+      O
  *   *  , * 
                
 H 0 *  
+   *,* +  + 
    "   *   ;2?F
ALF<6

6;@/F<**'!,**0"4
      *  4    *  *      *
    *"  $*,%  *      +    +,4*,  
*+,"  :  
*,          
'!,*:**,6!*
 ,+
*4,4+***
6 O* "  N G   G 
****6

!* "N ,,
***"
G;A.<6';.FF<"*"
0N"*,,
"6"("*
;@KFF<  *    +"  ""    *    ,*  
*"*N+*
:D,*""6
        "  *,      *  -  O+"  )"  
:  *  *,  *    "        "  N
   N  "   "
"D;@KFF<6R*,?
    *  +  D    *  "*      
"    ,  "  "  "  *  
*    *    ;@KFF<6    *    S,      O
        *    *    
,D*
$9  )5 *5BBG6"BDB4,44
4*444*44%6
*DM"*:*
I: J  ;@L@=<6 *
"      "G    "
"?33L;/3<GE"E"
"*";/2<6!*G
*H*)'';/2<*"
  *  :    *    )    (  ;/?< 
:*E*4M""*",**
*           "      *      
6  *      ,        : *
              "  H     ;/@<6
: *OM ,  *
D  *    *  ("          $9    )5
*5BBG6"BDB*"44%    *  "      *
  $9    )5 *5BBG6"BDB+4"444*4
,44%6,*""
 D  * "   ,* 
"*O;/.F<6

*  "       E    *    "
*,H""6
!***"*,
"6?3*1
  M    *    *  ,**      *  "
    "            *  
GD,*"
*"*6!*,*"",**
*"**I4"*J
"    ""
,**4:4""
"H**
,,* "H61** *
* " *,        "
*    *,** +   G  *
""**6!*+
        "          *  
G     *  4* "
*,:*"*6
 %
!*,+,*U+,"R*1!
*+)++9"*-!
*-*$-!%G8*)*
$)%"**M""G;"B932.?3XB2<8
*)**9G!4';"
-/=@AA/<6!**,+*+9OH4
,**"*6
-*
;2<CD'+9!+!+56
$%6 !8852/2Q2K3
;?<1$%5"#"#$%&#'"('6
) * 1  6 * 
"U8?3336
;.FF<'*!5/9
$6
 %6 ),7.715/2KQ/..6
  *      0      ??3  4    D
*-9$9%
+,"4,H6
;A<  94  5 -6      :  
&;$%%4<<=4<,8
*?32K6
;@<*?32K5>%$
'G"*6
;/FF<!4OO5 :+"! &
* -    ($ % 6 +  
, -?=.715.Q.?6
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$    6 +$  .$  ($  / B<  .715  ?=AQ.3?6
*5BB:66"B236232/BG6G6?33L63K63?.6
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  :    6 .# "#    0
,D.415?L@4.3365236233KB23//L432?4=A234A
;=< R P 9  -  '5 $%
$"+#$
61232 !4.715@K.4@L=6
;23F<*15$%/$
 /$$"  A
  6 2$ *$  -5 ,E,F6
*5BB:66"B23623L3B3=@2?KAL6?32K62?=.K2A6
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O**,*,",*
,*
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"$ L7?.D15KAK4KK3*5BB:66"B23623L3B3K=33/?K6?32K62.?=2.L6
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"M*,"
U6
;2?F< S+ 1   ,   R  -5 + 
*   *    2  
 * "$2*$ 5 7=5AK/4A=A
*5BB:66"B2362222B62??@=6
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:****"
*  * '*, G * ,**
,   *   * * 6 !*   *
,** Y  G  E" " *
Z *-* "",   
"***"6
;2.FF< ** 9 O*, P * 9 1 O95 '  ;
0$)"*2/$
    6 . 2  - ,<45  @?=Q@.=6
*5BB:66"B236232/BG66?32/62?63@L6
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O      6  !*    E  *       *
" +  6 !* * "
** **" H "*
G6
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/  ;$%" (     +
&0$C@> 4 ! -5/?/=4
/?LA5236..=3B,K22/?/=6
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 $%2 *6
6$ -47<5A/A4ALL*5BB:66"B236232KB3.3@KA232/3323A2
!*:*  *+*" *
,      *      *        
:6  !*      *  *  "  "    "
"    *  4"              
  ,  *  +           *
**6
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8      9        "#:;6
)"8?32L6
!*  +  :  *  "    4      "
* M   ,4  4    
  +  *, * "  G  
*6
;2K<   OO5 A  'G    G  -)  "  @  *
    6 $ +$ $ $  5 45  .3QA.6
*5BB:66"B23622/.B?.@?@?3K42?.A332A6
;2LF< O  O*, P5 -%- *;$%
/ ./167"#
   8   9    "#:
;6-R6)"8?32L5?2
!*  *  :  *        +    O+"
"  **,*
-O+"4"[)O!*
UP6
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?3.3%6  ?32K  'G"  *  )5
*5BB,,,6"6B:,B?32K3AB?@B@?.3@/LBEB?L/@2A.@AA2@KL@K.L
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-6 .$ "$   0 ,D5  .32Q.?A6
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$"  $ *   :   
6.2 ),,75@A/4@@L6
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;?@<OO5+% >:%
   * $%    / 
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;?/< O    '*    ',  P5 @  "  A
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2   4 <  55  )5
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    6   2$  2  $   ! 45  @K.Q@L=6
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)*6P^O6"*8?32A52A=42/L6
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;.?<,    P^  )5 GK          
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2.*: :  5'+6
;.A< R  O    6     *  
6%# .=15.L?
;.@< O+    !O-  RR*  (R  *  ORH+
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.$ 0=?8.,D15L2.34K6523623?2BA33.=3K
;./< P^ O '"* )5 + *$
"$$*
6  7'   6 1'6 ,4
"8?32K5287–301.
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;.=< OH U  5 +  $ * $%" 
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*5BB6"B236232/BG66?32/63L63?.
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 $ @  + $: 
$%       +    +  
 582@2342@?@6doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2017.1368465
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;ALF< R    5      *9" + % 
@%6+, -?=.715A=6
!*  +   " *  *  
   * '+(    ,+
O6)*,*"
N" ,* "     "6
",*N"*
**6
;A=F< ,    S+  1    '    '5 -  I
6    %      *        
6%$*$&# -A25?..4?A.6
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' 6  E   D  * Y 
,*.3_+*"**'+U),*6
;@3F<OG+RP9'-R-5+
*    "      *  $%      
  6   2$ 2 $  - ?.715  A.K4A@3
*5BB:66"B236233?B@62LK6
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"*****'+
    O6  !*    E  *  *  "    *      
E*
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      *    #$  6 4  5 F45  A3@6
*5BB:66"B236..=3B,L3=3A3@6
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*M      *     "  M        
*  *, "
*"6
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+K+C;$%&5
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8?32K52KA42L36
;@.< (N  )9  O  5 +    *  $  2    
6.2 -,<D5/@L4//K
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6
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523623L3B2@@K@..36?32K62.3AA.?6
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6
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P**"6
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, -?=7L@Q22L6
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:"*+,,**"*
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;@L<  $%5    ,8    ##    6
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;@=<(!aHO#R$%5.>2>?#6
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P*Q96* =.8,15
..4/36
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P,"?3226
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     !6   
?32K.715.A=Q./A6*5BB6"B23623L3B2A/K?K2@6?32K62.?L?LA6
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?@/6
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... Although evidence of widespread harm in the World Commission on Dams (WCD) (2000) report contributed to a shift away from support for large dams (Gerlak et al., 2020), they were repopularized a decade later with promotion of hydroelectricity as a carbon mitigation strategy Millikan, 2014). The largest funder of large dams, the World Bank, embraced hydro as climate friendly, only later reversing this stance (Gerlak et al., 2020;Siciliano et al., 2019). Dam building can be categorized as green grabbing, or claiming resources through the effective manipulation of ineffective environmental policy when dams are justified to reduce dependency on fossil fuels (Fearnside, 2016(Fearnside, , 2017a(Fearnside, , 2017bFinley-Brook & Thomas, 2011;Millikan, 2014). ...
... Although the World Bank pulled back its support for large hydro, dam building continues with private and bilateral funds (Siciliano et al., 2019). Since 2015, a majority of international big dam construction occurred with Chinese sponsorship (Gerlak et al., 2020;International Rivers, 2019). ...
... Without competitors bidding for CCS contracts, Chinese developers put forth a number of requirements privileging their partners in supply, construction, and operation. Ecuador had to renounce standard operating procedures, reinforcing Chinese advantage (Siciliano et al., 2019). ...
... Dams have formed a central part of China's 'Going Out' strategy and the 'Belt and Road Initiative'. Currently Chinese companies and banks are the biggest builders and financiers of hydropower dams in the global South while the largest share of the projects is concentrated in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Mekong Region (Urban et al. 2018, Siciliano et al. 2019. At least 40 percent of the on-going or proposed tributary and mainstream Lower Mekong dam projects are to be carried out by Chinese state-owned companies (Hirsch 2011, IR 2014 (Geheb andSuhardiman 2019, WLE 2018). ...
... While the Chinese state-owned hydropower companies mostly operate with similar commercial considerations as those in the private sector, the state backing they receive allows them to carry out less profitable projects as well. Indeed, sometimes they are encouraged to do so if the broader packages of aid, investments, trade, resource access and geostrategic deals, of which the projects form part, yield opportunities that China's government considers geoeconomically and/or geopolitically important (Lee 2014, Siciliano et al. 2019. In terms of controversy concerns, while Chinese hydropower SOEs have encountered opposition and increasingly subscribe to international standards on environmental and social safeguards to increase their reputation (Kirchherr et al. 2017), this is not yet consistent; the main position they still assume is to follow host country laws and law enforcement practices, which means that their adherence to environmental regulations depends on the host country's authorities (Hensengerth 2017, Siciliano et al. 2019. ...
... Indeed, sometimes they are encouraged to do so if the broader packages of aid, investments, trade, resource access and geostrategic deals, of which the projects form part, yield opportunities that China's government considers geoeconomically and/or geopolitically important (Lee 2014, Siciliano et al. 2019. In terms of controversy concerns, while Chinese hydropower SOEs have encountered opposition and increasingly subscribe to international standards on environmental and social safeguards to increase their reputation (Kirchherr et al. 2017), this is not yet consistent; the main position they still assume is to follow host country laws and law enforcement practices, which means that their adherence to environmental regulations depends on the host country's authorities (Hensengerth 2017, Siciliano et al. 2019. Overall, they seem to still remain less pressurised by international campaigns and thus less preoccupied with reputational risks than, for example, the World Bank (Urban et al. 2019), which also means that they are less concerned over distancing them from surrounding governing practices by adhering to transnational technical zones of governing (Barry 2006 While not necessarily entirely profit-driven, Chinese overseas SOEs often try (and are incentivised to do so) to optimise the economic viability of their contracts (Lee 2014). ...
... Researchers have adopted an energy justice framework to analyze issues related to large-scale hydropower dams. This includes the decision-making processes associated with the construction of large dams in Cambodia, Malaysia, Ghana, and Nigeria [33], and IDPs caused by the construction of dams that violate procedural justice [34]. Myanmar possesses abundant hydropower resources [35], and relies on hydropower for 56% of its power generation [36]. ...
... Although not within the framework of energy justice, there has been some research on Chinese-led dams located in Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia from a social justice perspective [37]. There has also been an analysis of dams in the global South, including Myanmar, from an environmental justice perspective where there is mention of the fact that dam construction may exacerbate tensions [34]. ...
... Several procedural justice issues that have been identified in existing studies [34] were also highlighted in the interviews (e.g., GM-1, NGM-8). Local communities were neither informed nor consulted regarding plans for power plants, such as capacity and fuel. ...
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Myanmar has been suffering from ethnic conflicts for approximately 70 years. The instability remains ongoing, and villagers in ceasefire areas are vulnerable. To ensure that no one is left behind, sustainable development in these areas should consider local needs. The objective of this study was to identify the living conditions required by local villagers such that they do not exacerbate conflicts. We interviewed stakeholders related to the peace process and rural electrification in Myanmar to identify the needs in conflict-affected areas. Needs were identified using the decent living standard (DLS) as the main analytical framework and energy justice as a complementary framework. The results show a strong local need for mobile phones and the importance of access to information provided by mobile phones and other dimensions of DLS, such as education and health care. For electrification options, off-grid solar products were found to be less likely to exacerbate conflicts compared to large-scale power plants. Historically, the latter has caused many issues related to energy justice.
... In an attempt to turn hydropower dams into an attractive asset for foreign investors and business consortiums, the twenty-first-century dams are shaped by neoliberal, investor-friendly policies advanced by international development banks (Merme et al., 2014). The involved actors have also changed because of China's new infrastructural foreign policy, which has made Chinese state-owned banks and enterprises (SOEs) the biggest financiers and builders of dams, particularly in contexts where damming is dependent on external infrastructural capacities, 1 making use of investor-friendly policies albeit with distinctive viability rationalisations (Siciliano et al., 2019). The justificatory discourses have also shifted; in an attempt to re-legitimise hydropower, previously predominant and still-important dam proponents such as the World Bank have attempted to replace exhausted promises with more enchanting ones, including a 'green economy', sustainability, and climate change mitigation and adaptation (Ahlers et al., 2017;Käkönen & Kaisti, 2012;Sneddon, 2015). ...
... Attracting foreign private investors and developers, however, has been challenging because of less clear profit-prospects. The BOT dam contracts have been taken up instead by state-owned Chinese banks and companies, which operate with a post-neoliberal rationale in the sense that they may undertake not-so-profitable projects if they yield other opportunities that China considers geopolitically or geoeconomically important (Lee, 2018;Siciliano et al., 2019). Chinese state-owned enterprises are, however, expected to optimize the economic viability of their not-so-profitable contracts (Lee, 2018). ...
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This article explores continuities and changes in the damming of rivers in the global South. By the 2000s, the infrastructural promises of large dams seemed exhausted. Yet, currently dams are making a strong comeback with new justifications highlighting their capacity to produce low-carbon energy and climate-proofed waterscapes, while the harms they generate are being presented as fixable. Through cases from the Mekong (Laos and Cambodia), and the Grijalva (Mexico) River Basins, we problematize these claims. Despite changes in the aspirations and agencies that foster damming, obdurate dam materialities and the new profit-maximizing operation modes provoke violent continuities of infrastructural harms and hinder the repurposing of dams to serve climate combat. Neoliberalised dams even augment climate vulnerabilities, as the more volatile rivers increasingly exceed their ordering capacities. We also show how the new dam assemblages continue dispossessing riverine residents while divergently strengthening corporate and state powers and obscuring relations of responsibility.
... Dams also negatively impact the physical and mental health of local communities, leading to environmental justice concerns (Siciliano et al. 2019). Coupled with environmental and socioeconomic impacts, the lack of local stakeholder involvement and the inexistent representation of local communities in the planning and development processes of dams indicate inadequate institutional and political organization (Marmulla 2001). ...
... This lack of proper engagement and participation of local stakeholders in the decision-making process surrounding dams causes long-standing issues of energy justice, including unfairness of the process, inequitable distribution of energy services to the local population, improper mitigation of social-ecological impacts, human rights violations, and societal struggles (Sneddon and Fox 2008;Siciliano et al. 2018Siciliano et al. , 2019. For example, the neglect of local communities in planning and development processes is often followed by increased conflicts, but without conflict resolution mechanisms, tend to generate a chaotic scenario where decisions and policy-making are made under the influence of interest groups, jurisdictional, and conflictual situations (Araujo and Moret 2016;Doria et al. 2018b). ...
Chapter
The dilemmas of population growth and increasing energy demands are worldwide concerns. The Amazon Basin has immense hydropower potential, but is vulnerable to the social-ecological and economic impacts of large dam construction and consequent changes in the landscape, biodiversity, and livelihoods of local communities. In this region, local communities have been ignored in decision-making and mitigation processes around the construction of dams. This chapter investigates two traditional fishing communities that have been impacted by the implementation of a large dam, their perceptions of the resulting conflicts, and how fishers self-organized to cope with the impacts and lack of engagement from responsible authorities. Local stakeholders debated the lack of social justice on the mitigation actions and suggested a collaborative mechanism for conflict resolution and negotiation measures to address fisheries-related issues, improve livelihoods, and guarantee fairness mitigation measures for the impacted population.KeywordsSmall-scale traditional fisheriesMadeira RiverRiverine communitiesDam impactSocial justiceConflictsLivelihoods
... The result often decimates local livelihoods, circumvents social justice, and compromises environmental quality. Unfortunately, there seems to be no shortage of examples of these dynamics, as illustrated by Thai investments in hydropower in Lao PDR (Mathews, 2012), Chinese state-owned enterprise investments along the Upper Mekong River (Mathews & Motta, 2015), and Chinese hydropower investments more broadly across Asia and Africa (Siciliano et al., 2019). Work in Colombia, on payment for ecosystem service programmes, also highlights these types of power dynamics and has led to calls for the "politicizing" of the nexus "to trace both the flows of resources and the flows of power" (Rodríguez-de-Francisco et al., 2019, p. 1). ...
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The water‐energy‐food (WEF) nexus is a prominent approach for addressing today's sustainable development challenges. In our critical appraisal of the WEF, covering different approaches, drivers, enablers, and applications, we emphasize the situation across the Global South (Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean). Here, WEF research covers at least 23 focal domains. We find that the nexus is still a maturing paradigm primarily rooted in a physical and natural sciences framing, which is itself embedded in a neoliberal securities narrative. While providing insights and tools to address the systemic interdependencies between resource sectors whose exploitation, degradation, and sub‐optimal management contribute to (un)sustainable development, there is still insufficient engagement with social, political, and economic dimensions. Progress related to climate, urbanization, and resource consumption is encouraging, but while governance and finance are central enablers of current and future nexus systems, gaps remain in relation to implementation and operationalization. Harnessing the nexus for sustainable development across the Global South means recognizing that it is more than a biophysical system, but also a multi‐scale complex of people, institutions, and infrastructure, affected by history and context. Addressing this complexity requires alternative and possibly challenging perspectives to counter dominant narratives, and manage problems associated with policy integration, trade‐offs, and winners and losers. We outline 10 emergent research areas that we think can contribute to this endeavor and enable the nexus to be a stronger policy force.
... There are at least three hypotheses for this phenomenon. First, the construction of hydroelectric dams in democracies of the Global South and emerging economies with lack of participation processes reflect governments' prioritization of large scale development projects because they are seen as critical for the construction of the nation, fit Western notions of the Modern state, and provide them with international reputation and political credibility at the national level (Blake and Barney, 2018;Hausermann, 2018;Mohamud and Verhoeven, 2016;Siciliano et al., 2019;Wang et al., 2013). Second, public interest stakes in large dams are very high, meaning that dam builders prioritize building a project over its ecological and social costs, including the well-being of communities living at the site of planned construction (Flyvbjerg, 2007). ...
Article
Construction of large-scale hydroelectric dams has increased in recent decades in the Global South and emerging economies. Population resettlement is one of the most severe socioeconomic impacts caused by dam construction. Processes aiming to mitigate its impacts and restore livelihoods are often described as inadequate. The resettlement process’ ineffectiveness could be explained by persistent deficiency in citizen participation, which is also a sign of the impacted population not being able to participate in the process affecting their lives. Our research presents a medium-N comparative study showing the pathways explaining deficiency of participation across 23 large-scale hydroelectric dams in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We conducted a fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis based on information from a qualitative meta-analysis and secondary sources. Our results suggest that there are at least two scenarios to explain deficiency in participation. The first scenario includes dams constructed during autocracies, mostly before the release of the World Commission on Dams guidelines. The second scenario involves the largest dams in our analysis, with high economic and political interests at stake built under both autocratic and democratic regimes, despite the presence of what we categorized as effective forms of public opposition to the project and resettlement process. We discuss features that make large hydroelectric dams less participatory or inherently undemocratic in the Global South.
... 5 As the biggest Chinese investment project in Ghana at time of the construction, the Bui Dam has received wide media coverage and scholarly attention over the years. Some scholars have looked at the environmental impacts of the dam (Hensengerth, 2013;Siciliano, et al 2019). Some have also examined the livelihood challenges of resettled communities (Yankson et al, 2018;Asiama et al, 2017) while others have explored the impact on Ghana's economy (Rupp 2013;Amoah 2014;Odoom, 2015;Tsikudo, 2020), the region's social welfare (Tang and Shen, 2020) and labour relations (Baah and Jauch, 2009;Otoo et al, 2013). ...
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This chapter explores the labour practices of Sinohydro vis-à-vis the resistance and activism of Ghanaian workers at the Bui Dam. Framing Ghanaian workers’ labour activism as a form of agency, the study examines it effects on employee-management relations. It draws on data from field research at the Bui Dam site to explore both the antecedents and outcomes of union activities. The study uncovers dynamic interactions, influence, resistance, and different forces that shape the terms of Ghanaian and Chinese encounters thereby challenging the dominant representations of China and Chinese entities as all-powerful always capable of imposing themselves on African actors who wield no autonomy, influence or leverage.
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Vietnam has experienced rapid economic growth over the past few decades, as well as growing environmental pressures. The country is therefore pursuing strategies for green transformations, which are the processes of restructuring to bring economies and societies within the planetary boundaries. This article addresses the opportunities, barriers, and trade‐offs for green transformations in Vietnam's energy sector and examines them from an energy justice perspective. The article draws on in‐depths expert interviews with representatives from government agencies, private firms, academic institutions, and multilateral institutions in Vietnam. The article finds that Vietnam is undergoing efforts to move away from business as usual by promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as aligning energy and climate plans with national development priorities such as energy security and economic growth. Yet there is a need for more coordinated, integrated approaches and policies that span across the 3 areas that address green transformations in Vietnam: green growth, sustainable development, and climate change. Finally, although key actors seem to be aware and may be critical of major trade‐offs such as land grabs for energy projects, the impacts on affected people need to be better understood and mitigated.
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President Xi Jinping announced the above at the 19th Communist Party Congress as an affirmation that China had “arrived” as a great power in the world. With a population of 1.3 billion, China became the world’s second-largest economy and contributed 39 per cent to world growth in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund (World Economic Forum 2017a). China is the largest investor in renewable energy, having invested more than USD 100 billion in 2015 (World Economic Forum 2017b). China also spearheaded the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a global financing institution with 57 member countries, including developed countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany. With China’s increasing economic and diplomatic presences in the world, coupled with its directive of “Going Out,” which was intensified by the recent Belt Road Initiative (BRI), China’s rise will inevitably impact the world in terms of competition for resources, market share, and political influence. In particular, China’s insatiable appetite for natural resources to fuel its domestic growth and satisfy its energy needs has left an unparalleled and deepening footprint on the world’s environment (Liu and Diamond 2005; Mol 2011).
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This paper investigates from a socio-technical and energy justice perspective the lack of coordination of international, national and local developmental priorities and inclusion of local needs in the decision making process of large dam construction in the global South. The paper argues that the analysis of energy infrastructures as socio-technical systems requires an energy justice approach to capture the true environmental and social nature of energy production and consumption. In doing so, this paper proposes a conceptual framework called “The Energy Justice Framework for Dam Decision-Making” as a tool to inform energy decisions on infrastructure development based on energy justice principles and social impact assessment. The proposed framework is used in this paper to analyse distributional, procedural, restorative justice, and power relations throughout the entire dams’ energy system in the case of four large dams located in Africa and Asia, namely Kamchay dam in Cambodia, Bakun dam in Malaysia, Bui dam in Ghana and the planned Zamfara dam in Nigeria.
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