CfP POLLEN20 – Conceptualizations and institutionalizations of variegated “green” economies in the global South

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Jill Tove Buseth (Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences & Department of Social and Educational Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences) and Mathew Bukhi Mabele (Department of Geography, University of Zurich & Department of Geography, University of Dodoma

Abstracts of 300 words must be sent to and no later than 20th of Nov.

Session description

‘Greening’ economies and development has been key in international politics since the converging triple f crisis and the subsequent Rio+20 meeting (UNEP, 2011). For many, this represented “a unique moment in history in which major environmental and economic challenges could be tackled simultaneously” (Tienhaara, 2014, p. 1). A growing body of research and policy reports discuss different aspects of green transitions and the global green shift. While the green economy unfolds in different directions, there are some tendencies at work in how the green economy is interpreted and implemented across the global North and South. Two key trends stand out. In the developed part of the world, green shifts seem to center around technological and market-based solutions to environmental challenges (Brown et al., 2014). In the global South, however, variegated green economies tend to imply modernization of natural resource management, or transformed control over or access to the use of natural resources such as land and forests (Bergius & Buseth, 2019; Bergius et al., 2017; Büscher & Fletcher, 2015; Ehresman & Okereke, 2015). A rich body of literature – often coming from political ecologists – scrutinize and criticize implications and outcomes of variegated green economies in the global South (Barkin and Fuente, 2013; Fairhead et al., 2012; Fisher et al., 2018; Mabele, 2019; Scoones et al., 2015). In order to understand green economy implementations, it is necessary to look beyond the policies and analyse the various conceptualizations from which the green economy materializes and institutionalizes. Indeed, the haziness and ambiguity of the green economy has resulted in a blending of green agendas in a fluid conceptual base that has consequences for how it is interpreted and implemented in practice. Powerful actors have thus managed to establish policies and schemes framed under the green economy umbrella, but which often represent nothing but business-as-usual under a different branding. Corson et al. (2013, p. 2) discussed this as “grabbing green”, referring to how the environment “is being used instrumentally by various actors to extend the potential for capital accumulation under the auspices of being green.” One evolving key contentious issue of such interpretation, of course, is the framing of social justice, which is predicated on material and economic dimensions of prosperity. Such “fuzzy” green conceptualizations also signify the inattention to contextual aspects such as power imbalances which shape access to targeted environmental resources. There is an overall tendency that variegated versions of “green” is interpreted and transformed in various contexts before reaching implementation level, thus leading to hybrid green economy materializations that may have unfortunate outcomes.

Based on this, we seek abstracts building on ideas related, but not limited to, the following thematic topics:

  • Case studies of green economy institutionalizations in the global South
  • Variegated conceptualizations, interpretations and/ or utilizations of the green economy in the global South
  • Case studies of “green” injustices predicated on hybrid interpretations of the green economy


Barkin, D. and Fuente, M. (2013) Community forest management: Can the green economy contribute to environmental justice? Natural Resources Forum 37, 200–210.

Bergius, M., Benjaminsen, T. A., & Widgren, M. (2018). Green economy, Scandinavian investments and agricultural modernization in Tanzania. Journal of Peasant Studies, 45(4), 825–852. Retrieved from

Bergius, M. and Buseth, J. T. (2019). Towards a green modernization development discourse: The new green revolution in Africa. Journal of Political Ecology, 26, 57-83.

Brown, E., Cloke, J., Gent, D., & Hill, D. (2014). Green growth or ecological commodification: debating the green economy in the Global south. Geografiska Annaler: Series B., 93(3), p. 245–259.

Büscher, B., & Fletcher, R. (2015). Accumulation by conservation. New Political Economy, 20(2), 273–298.

Corson, C., MacDonald, K. I., & Neimark, B. (2013). Grabbing “green”: Markets, environmental governance and the materialization of natural capital. Human Geography, 6(1), 1–15.

Ehresman, T. G., & Okereke, C. (2015). Environmental justice and conceptions of the green economy. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 15(1), 13–27.

Fairhead, J., Leach, M., & Scoones, I. (2012). Green grabbing: A new appropriation of nature? Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 237–261.

Fisher, J. A., Cavanagh, C. J., Sikor, T. et al. (2018). Linking notions of justice and project outcomes in carbon offset forestry projects: Insights from a comparative study in Uganda. Land Use Policy 73, 259–268

Mabele, M. B. (2019). In pursuit of multidimensional justice: Lessons from a charcoal ‘greening’ project in Tanzania. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, DOI: 10.1177/2514848619876544

Scoones, I., Newell, P., & Leach, M. (2015). The politics of green transformations. In I. Scoones, M. Leach, & P. Newell (Eds.), The politics of green transformations (pp. 1–24). Abingdon: Routledge.

Tienhaara, K. (2014). Varieties of green capitalism: Economy and environment in the wake of the global financial crisis. Environmental Politics, 23(2), 187–204. doi:10.1080/09644016.2013.821828

UNEP. (2011). Towards a green economy: Pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication. A synthesis for policy makers. Retrieved from

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