Geopolitical Ecologies of Violence and Resistance

Call for Proposals: POLLEN20

Call for participants
Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers: Benjamin Neimark b.neimark@lancaster.ac.uk & Patrick Bigger, Lancaster University, p.bigger@lancaster.ac.uk; Oliver Belcher, Durham University, oliver.belcher@durham.ac.uk; and Andrea Brock, University of Sussex, A.Brock@sussex.ac.uk

In early October 2019, hundreds of frontline fossil fuel protesters took direct action against hard coal infrastructure across Germany. Under the banner of #deCOALonize, they blockaded railways, ports and utility companies, demanding an end to ‘coal colonialism’ and an immediate phase-out of coal combustion. The state response was predictable: physical violence by police officers, harsh policing and holding protesters for days in custody following nonviolent action. Still making the rounds in the same media cycle was the story of drone strikes targeting the Aramco oil facility in Saudi Aribia, knocking out 50 percent the Saudi’s capacity and 5 percent of global supply. While we generally understand the casual links between fossil fuels and geopolitics, less studied are the direct and indirect geopolitical entanglements of fossil fuel violence – violence against those resisting them, and the inherent violence to humans and ecosystems.

In this session, we look to these events and others as a way to bring together scholars’ understandings of violence, resistance and critical geopolitics of, and through, nature. Beyond direct violence, we also include more entrenched/indirect forms, such as criminalisation, stigmatisation and framings as domestic extremist or eco-terrorism and allowing for looking at more bureaucratic forms of violence, and everyday policing (by non-police – e.g. welfare state, teachers).

We hope to expand on work in geopolitical ecology and other similar frameworks to explore new considerations of contemporary violence and resistance – the role of institutional, state and non-state actors in violent encounters over planetary futures. We also hope to open up our geographic focus of fossil fuels to violence surrounding different forms of energy lock-ins and carbon-based infrastructures and discourses, including alternative energy and financial schemes around carbon trading and exchange. We are also interested in new forms of resistance to fossil-fuelled institutional violence – from digital (e.g., guerrilla archiving, hacktivists) to grassroots student strikes– are now being used to contest against such violence. In doing this, we aim to grapple with the complex picture of what successful resistance might look like. How can diverse coalitions be formed between environmentalists and anti-imperialism activists? How are environmentalists confronting militarism? How are anti-war activists confronting climate change? What political formations can be forged to facilitate a climatically changed future that is just, liveable, and sustainable? How do we envision a world of less violence – environmental and imperial?

Papers in any form may address a broad number of topics related to geopolitical ecologies of violence and resistance, including but not limited to:  

  • Pipelines and pumps
  • Theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological interventions that critically (re)assess the nature-state relationship regarding violence
  • Frontline and back-end resistance, from ‘tree-huggers’ to eco-hacktivists
  • Resistance to eco-state restructuring under multiple ‘Green New Dealings’
  • Paramilitarities and ‘ramping up’ by non-states
  • Climate change adaptation/mitigation, statecraft, and security
  • New hegemonies of ‘green’ political-economic power
  • ‘Green’ developmentalism and violent dispossession
  • War/violence and biodiversity/resource conservation
  • Settler-colonial environmentalisms
  • Financing violence through MDBs or transnational banks
  • Links between ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ violence

Please send abstract of 250 words or less to Ben Neimark, b.neimark@lancaster.ac.uk by November 4th 2019.

Political Ecologies of/at the Edge: Climate Futures, Marginal Landscapes, and Infrastructural Imaginaries

Call for Papers: POLLEN 2020

Brighton, United Kingdom

24-26 June 2020

https://pollen2020.wordpress.com/

Political Ecologies of/at the Edge: Climate Futures, Marginal Landscapes, and Infrastructural Imaginaries

Aurora Fredriksen (University of Manchester)

Nate Millington (University of Manchester)

Read more

Tropical Forest (Double) Standard – Dead on Arrival?

Kathleen McAfee

Professor of International Relations

San Francisco State University

kmcafee@sfsu.edu

September 25, 2019

On September 19, after a day of intense debate, the California Air Resources Board endorsed the contentious proposal for a Tropical Forest Standard (TFS) designed to allow California companies to offshore the consequences of their greenhouse-gas emissions to communities and ecosystems in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

The resulting document may mean little in practice: the vote of 4 to 7 with one abstention was the narrowest vote in the memory of the Board. To persuade reluctant Board members, the Chairperson insisted that there is presently no intention of applying the Standard in California. Even those voting for the TFS expressed serious misgivings about it, and growing numbers of California legislators are skeptical of expanding offsetting options in the state’s climate policy.

The TFS debate was dramatic, with moving testimony against the TFS by indigenous representatives from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, and Indonesia and a strong showing from environmental justice organizations, with the California Environmental Justice Alliance in the lead. These activists were supported by Friends of the Earth, Amazon Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, members of Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and 350.org among others, and by many academics who signed our scholars’ open letter, met with ARB members and legislators, and posted public comments.

The lead organizations promoting the TFS have been the Environmental Defense Fund and Earth Innovations Institute, along with emissions trading entrepreneurs, some indigenous and Latin American government officials, the oil industry lobby (Western States Petroleum Association), and others of the state’s biggest GHG emitters who are also the main users of offsets in California.

The TFS is a list of criteria that was meant to lay the groundwork for a Tropical Forest Sector Offset Protocol under which emitters of GHGs in California could buy offsets from rainforest regions. Under such a protocol, the ARB would allow the use of offset credits sold by national or subnational governments in developing countries that report reduced rates of deforestation if such claims of success are confirmed by technical consultants according to stipulations laid out in the TFS. Companies that buy the credits could then release more GHGs than they could otherwise legally emit under the state’s cap-and-trade system.

But the TFS may prove to be dead on arrival. It is doubtful that any jurisdiction in the global South can honestly comply with the TFS requirements in the present or near future, given their current rates of deforestation and the profitability of the forest-destroying agribusiness and mining that are the main direct drivers of tropical deforestation. It is nevertheless possible that some rainforest states may claim adherence with the TFS and request CA open its cap-and-trade system to their REDD+ credits, taking advantage of the TFS’s vague provisions for determining whether, when, and why deforestation has increased or decreased in their territories.

Similarly to other systems that have allowed trade in carbon credits, California law, restated in the TFS, requires that offsets be “real, additional, quantifiable, permanent, verifiable and enforceable”. The TFS would not be able to ensure that offset credits generated by states or provinces linked to California could meet these criteria, for reasons our researchers’ group has outlined in our submissions to the ARB.

Were a California offset protocol based on the TFS to be developed, it would need an administrative structure, procedures for monitoring implementation in the linked tropical jurisdictions, and a process for adjudication of the conflicts and grievances that would inevitably arise. No such structure exists, nor does the ARB have the mandate and capacity to develop one. But states or industry organizations might claim to be applying the California standard even apart from any formal protocol and oversight mechanism in California. In the likely event that any such offsetting schemes prove problematic, California’s claim to global climate leadership could be discredited.

Many of the TFS proponents argued that, with the Amazon on fire, “California must do something now” even if the TFS is imperfect. Those arguments obscured the fact that applying the TFS would mean doing something that allows emissions increases in exchange for reductions that might not last or might not work – instead of doing what is known to work.

We academics who have supported the “No-TFS Allies” agree with that coalition’s view that offsets are a false promise and a distraction from the real task of reducing our fossil-fuel production, importing, exporting, and consumption here in California and worldwide. 

Market-based finance of conservation is a losing strategy. Revenue from sale of offset credits – markets for which depend on cheap offset prices – cannot compete with the profits from soy, oil palm, beef, minerals, and other extractive industries that are subsidized and promoted by the same governments that seek TFS or REDD+ funding, ostensibly for forest conservation.

As action to reduce GHG emissions has become more urgent worldwide, the role of transnational trade in offset credits in global climate policy is increasingly being questioned. This is the case in California climate policy, too, where offsetting already contributes to the too-slow pace of emissions reductions, and as the environmental injustice consequences of offsetting in California have become more apparent.

Meanwhile in New York, the UN chief has reported that 77 countries so far have pledged to become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050. That’s not ‘zero carbon’, so it is a positive step but one likely to entail a lot more offsetting. As a research community, we will need to watch any proposed TFS programs carefully and share our results. We have plenty more work ahead.

Kathleen McAfee

Professor of International Relations

San Francisco State University

kmcafee@sfsu.edu

September 25, 2019

Empowering Producers in Commercial Agriculture (EPIC) International insight pooling workshop


Wed 13th – Fri 15th November, 2019 Blantyre, Malawi.
The EPIC project aims to empower rural producers and their wider communities to influence public decisions and private sector conduct in favour of bottom-up, locally beneficial and more sustainable investments in commercial agriculture.
The event
Hosted by IIED and EPIC partners from Malawi and Nepal1, the above event will take stock of and share experiences around the world of approaches to supporting rural producers in their commercial agriculture relations. It will span experiences of supporting producers in informal local markets through to those supplying highly structured or integrated global value chains. The workshop will:
• Gather insights on effective approaches to supporting rural producers and their communities in the context of commercial agriculture, agricultural investments and agricultural value chains.
• Pool experiences and ideas into what is working well, challenges, and important lessons to help guide different actors.
• Focus on practical approaches being applied across diverse geographies and contexts drawing out the contextual factors, enablers and constraints, and considering tips for uptake, scaling and replication.
• Highlight where certain conceptual or analytical frameworks can help strengthen practical approaches, for example in relation to social inclusion and understanding issues of power, agency and behaviour change.
Event duration and structure
The event will run over 3 days, including a field trip to allow time to share insights, interrogate lessons being learnt, generate new ideas and consider ways forwards to strengthen work in this area. It will include:
• Scene setting on challenges and opportunities;
• Participant exchange and skill sharing on a number of key pre-selected tools and approaches;
• Field visits to EPIC work with the Msuwadzi Tea Association and one other site TBC.
• Digging deeper on what is effective in meeting local priorities, generating bottom up approaches, addressing social inclusion and relevant policy and practice spheres ripe for influence;
• Taking forwards the agenda – by documenting and deepening the learning and sharing and engaging with key players.
1 Malawi: Women’s Legal Resources Centre (WOLREC), NEPAL: Centre for community self-reliance (CSRC), Nepal Agriculture Central Cooperative Federation Ltd (NACCFL)
Who is it for?
There will be up to 25 participants with representation from:
• Practitioners supporting rural producers, their associations and their wider communities (e.g. NGOs, development agencies);
• National and regional federations of small-scale rural producers;
• Best-practice agribusinesses and their investors and service providers;
• Policy makers, especially from low and middle-income country governments;
• Donors active in commercial agriculture.
Background to the event
Increased private sector investment in commercial agriculture – from production to aggregation, processing and distribution – has created both risks and opportunities for rural livelihoods in low and middle-income countries. Developing value chains and linking farmers to markets could transform the livelihoods of millions of rural people, expanding choice and creating income-generating opportunities. But there are also concerns about top-down approaches, unequal negotiating power, unfair business relations and social differentiation among rural people.
The ability of rural people to make informed choices, exercise rights and have their voices heard when dealing with the government or the private sector is a key factor in enabling, or constraining, fairer investments, which deliver positive sustainable development outcomes. Yet interactions between governments, companies and rural people in low and middle-income countries usually involve asymmetries in capacity, resources, influence and negotiating power. There is a need to develop, use and upscale innovative legal and other empowerment approaches that strengthen the position of rural people, particularly in their supply chain relations.
EPIC responds to this challenge. Through research and lesson-sharing, alongside testing approaches in two countries, EPIC is generating evidence on effective approaches to supporting rural producers in their commercial agriculture relations. EPIC is funded through the UK Department for International Development (DFID)’s Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme. For more information visit the webpage or read the latest research report sharing the conceptual framework being developed and interrogated through EPIC.
Event results
In addition to the learning and knowledge generation and networking amongst participants, the event will result in a briefing note to disseminate the discussions and findings widely and cases discussed may be further developed to contribute to the development of a practitioner toolkit.
Logistics
IIED will support travel and accommodation expenses associated with participating in the event
RSVP
Please RSVP to Jack Lloyd jack.lloyd@iied.org cc. Emily Polack emily.polack@iied.org

Chair/Reader in Political Ecology

Lancaster University

– Lancaster Environment Centre

Closes: 8th September 2019

https://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/BUB441/chair-reader-in-political-ecology

Lancaster University wishes to appoint an exceptional interdisciplinary academic in Political Ecology (broadly defined) at the Chair/Reader level. You will work within the Political EcologyResearch Group and in close collaboration with the Critical Geographies Research Group. You are expected to continue the Lancaster Environment Centre’s contribution to this sub-field of political ecology as a distinct and vibrant research cluster in the UK.

We seek an outstanding candidate whose research, engagement and teaching interests are in areas that offer critical perspectives on human-environmental issues and change. We understand political ecology to coalesce around critiques of the relationship between culture, politics and nature. Reflecting political ecology’s multi-dimensionality, relevant themes addressed at Lancaster Environment Centre include, but are not limited to, food security, environmental justice, conservation, resource extraction, bioeconomy, water, urban natures, climate politics, science and technology, and the Anthropocene.

Candidates’ research backgrounds may be in geography, anthropology, development studies, environmental sociology or cognate disciplines. We encourage scholars from backgrounds under-represented in these fields. We also welcome novel approaches around de-colonial and critical feminist thinking, both in teaching and in research. Community building within the respective research groups and wider Environment Centre is highly encouraged.

Lancaster University has a reputation for delivering research and teaching with impact at the highest level across the social sciences. We work nationally and internationally with a host of academic, government, civil society and private sector partners. It is expected that applicants will have a strong record of income generation, a demonstrated interest in mentoring and collaborating with junior colleagues, and a clear vision and plan for developing and promoting Political Ecology at the Lancaster Environment Centre. You will work within the dynamic, diverse and interdisciplinary research groups and engage with other clusters of expertise across the University. You will build upon recent initiatives such as the Department’s first political ecology conference and the international Political Ecology Network – POLLEN. Teaching responsibilities will initially be modest to enable the development of a world-class research portfolio. In the future, there will be the opportunity to contribute to a forthcoming Master’s programme in Political Ecology currently under development.

LEC offers a highly inclusive and stimulating environment for career development. We are committed to family-friendly and flexible working policies on an individual basis, as well as the Athena SWAN Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research.

Informal enquiries can be addressed to Professor Phil Barker (Head of Department) p.barker@lancaster.ac.uk, tel. 01524 510230, Dr Ben Neimark, Lancaster Environment Centre, tel. 01524 510592, b.neimark@lancaster.ac.uk or Dr John Childs, Lancaster Environment Centre, tel. 01524 510242, j.childs@lancaster.ac.uk

Assistant Professor (tenure track) in Societal Challenges of Climate Change Impacts – The University of Lausanne

Assistant Professor (tenure track) in Societal Challenges of Climate Change Impacts

The Faculty of Geosciences and the Environment (FGSE) of the University of Lausanne invites applications for a professorship in the Societal Challenges of Climate Change Impacts, to be based in the Institute of Geography and Sustainability (IGD).

We are looking for an excellent candidate with a background in the social sciences or humanities, working on the societal challenges raised by climate change, across a variety of spatial scales, perspectives, actors, and/or practices. Candidates should demonstrate research expertise in at least one of the following areas: spatial and/or intergenerational climate justice; adaptation strategies; territorial impacts of climate change and responses to climate risks; complex dynamics of knowledge, beliefs, and institutions in connection to climate issues. Candidates should demonstrate the capacity to develop interdisciplinary projects with earth and environmental scientists working on climate change, within the FGSE and beyond.

Information

Appointment will be at the Assistant Professor level (tenure track). However, exceptionally, we will consider outstanding candidates for direct appointment to the Associate or Full Professor level, notably if this corresponds with our equal opportunity objectives.

Starting date: August 1st, 2020 (or to be agreed upon)

Contract length: 2 years renewable twice (6 years) Tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor is possible after 5 to 6 years. Once tenured, contracts are renewed on a 6 year cycle.

Activity rate: 100 %

Workplace University of Lausanne (Géopolis building)

Your Responsibilities

The successful candidate will actively participate in the research activities of the Institute of Geography and Sustainability, will teach in the Bachelor of Geosciences and Environment and in relevant Masters taught by the FGSE, and will supervise masters and doctoral students.

Your Qualifications

Candidates must demonstrate a capacity to undertake high quality research, to obtain competitive research funding, and to publish in peer-reviewed international research journals. A demonstrated potential for teaching and for supervising master’s and doctoral theses is required. A good command of both French and English language is preferable. If French is not the native language, the ability to teach in French has to be acquired within two years of the appointment.

What the position offers you

The Faculty of Geosciences and Environment (FGSE) was created in 2003 and offers state-of-the-art equipment, incentives for projects, and excellent working conditions. It consists of three research institutes (Earth Science, Geography and Sustainability, and Earth Surface Dynamics) and a School that manages teaching and learning across these research domains. The FGSE specifically promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching, within and between the social and natural sciences. The Institute of Geography and Sustainability (IGD) includes geographers (human and physical), economists, and environmental philosophers. The approximately ninety employees of the Institute participate in one or more of the following research groups : Development, Societies, and Environment; Urban Studies; Environmental Humanities; Cultures and Natures of Tourism; Water Resources and Geoheritage; Geographic Information Science.

Contact for further information

Other useful information is available on the websites of the Faculty (www.unil.ch/gse) and the Institute of Geography and Sustainability (www.unil.ch/igd).

For further information, contact the Chair of the Selection Committee for this position: Prof. Frédéric Herman, Dean of the FGSE (frederic.herman@unil.ch).

Additional information

The University of Lausanne seeks to promote an equitable representation of men and women among its staff and strongly encourages applications from women. The FGSE’s strategy regarding equal opportunity, specifically with respect to the recruitment of professors, is described in point 2.2 of the FGSE’s Plan of action in favor of the equality of chances between women and men 2017-2020. Candidates are expressly invited to consult this document at the following website: https://www.unil.ch/gse/fr/home/menuinst/faculte/commissions/egalite.html