Land-based climate change mitigation, land grabbing and conflict

This is the first Working Paper of the MOSAIC project, a 4-year international research project aimed at studying the interesection between land-based climate change mitigation, land grabbing and conflict, in Asian countries in political transition, i.e. Cambodia and Myanmar. The project involves grassroots civil society organizations, NGOs and academic partners from these two countries, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Canada.

The Working Paper, led by Carol Hunsberger at the University of Western Ontario, introduces the research action framework that guides project development. Recent research highlights the potential for climate change mitigation projects and large scale land deals to produce conflicts over land and resources. However, this literature generally views climate change policies and land grabbing as separate processes, and focuses on discrete areas where displacement or contested claims occur. We argue that additional research strategies are needed to understand the social and ecological spill-over effects that take place within larger areas where land-based climate change projects (e.g. biofuel production, forest conservation, or hydroelectric projects) and large land-based investments (e.g. plantations or mines) are found.

We propose adopting a landscape perspective to study intersections and complex interactions within and across social, ecological and institutional domains. By co-producing knowledge with local actors, building capacity with civil society groups, and informing advocacy that targets policy processes at multiple scales, we suggest that such research could contribute to preventing, resolving or transforming conflicts – even in places where difficult political transitions are underway.

Download also the country-focused accompanying articles by Courtney Work and Kevin Woods, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague.


Valuing nature, paying for ecosystem services and realizing social justice

In the latest volume of the journal Ecological Economics, I contribute to ongoing debates about the role of economic valuation in market-based conservation. I respond to an earlier piece by Brett Sylvester Matulis, nuance some of his arguments and set what I believe should be the new agenda for critical scholarship of market-based conservation. I argue for more precision in the claims we make about the role of economic valuation and the impacts of payments for ecosystem services, distinguishing across market-based instruments and across types of outcomes, and for a more nuanced account of the ethical connotations of such instruments. I suggest that such analysis should entail understanding both unequal socio-economic relations and culturally bounded conceptions of justice. Overall, I advocate for the development of a more robust empirical basis to derive generalizations on the procedural, distributive and livelihood implications of market-based instruments for conservation.

The atmosphere business

Un nou llibre “El negoci de l’atmosfera” ha estat editat per l’Steffen Böhm, l’Anna-Maria Murtola i l’Sverre Spoelstra i publicat a finals de 2012. S’hi poden trobar articles sobre els últims avenços en les negociacions climàtiques i perspectives crítiques sobre diferents instruments per a la mitigació del canvi climàtic, incloent els mercats de drets d’emissions o els mecanismes per a la valoració del carboni forestal (REDD+). Hi contribueixo amb un article publicat a la revista Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization sobre els projectes de reforestació per a la mitigació forestal, i en el qual qüestiono (juntament amb la Charlotte Friedli) la seva integritat ambiental i la seva contribució al benestar de les poblacions local que hi participen. El llibre es pot descarregar gratuïtament o comprar a la web de May Fly Books.

Problematizing REDD+…

In a new paper entitled “Problematizing REDD+ as an experiment in payments for ecosystem services” and published in the leading journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, I shed light on a few problems and contradictions of the current global policy framework for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and sustainably managing forest (REDD+). I argue that REDD+ promotes the commodification of ecosystems’ carbon storage and sequestration functions on a global scale and it is consistent with market-based conservation approaches and the ‘neoliberalization canadian pharmacy of nature’. REDD+ is therefore problematized on the grounds that, first, eases a transition from an ethically informed conservation ethos to a utilitarian one that simplifies nature and undermines socio-ecological resilience; second, relies on a single valuation language that may crowd-out conservation motivations in the short and long term; and, last, is sustained on a ‘multiple-win’ discourse that in practice lacks procedural legitimacy in many developing countries and reproduces existing inequities and forms of social exclusion. The argument is developed drawing on PES literature and insights from critical theorists and practitioners of nature conservation.

You can already read the article online here

Cap a una economia real

El meu germà Carles m’ha fet arribar un article de reflexió d’en Kernan Heinz sobre l’economia finançera. L’he trobat interessant i molt divulgatiu. Explica de forma molt simple què fan els bancs amb els nostres diners i com es beneficien mitjançant la concessió de crèdits, i raona sobre perquè cal regular l’economia finançera i refocalitzar-nos en l’economia productiva.

Si us interessa la temàtica, féu un cop d’ull a un volum recent de la revista Ecologia Política on alguns articles aborden les contradiccions de l’economia finançera amb més detall i, en particular, des de la perspectiva de l’economia ecològica i l’ecologia política. Hi escriuen en Joan Martinez-Alier i en Herman Daly, entre d’altres.