Extractive activities, including mineral, biomass and fossil fuel extraction, cause wide-ranging social and environmental impacts, from the depletion of natural resources to social tensions and conflicts through threats to territories, communities and lifestyles. Community responses to these activities call into question who has the right to decide and whether any one vision of development should be imposed over others. At times these responses also present alternative perspectives on well-being.
The ACKnowl-EJ project analysed the transformative potential of community responses to extractivism and alternatives born from resistance. The project aimed to co-produce knowledge that could empower communities to push for change and that was geared towards the needs of social groups, advocates, citizens and social movements.
The ACKnowl-EJ network conceived of social movements struggling for environmental justice as potential agents in radical transformation, considering that the role of resistance to environmental exploitation and ecological violence, often manifested through ecological conflicts, was under-examined. The project included perspectives from activism, political ecology, social movement studies, environmental justice and conflict transformation praxis and theory to understand how social change that prefigures more sustainable practices emerges from social movements and how alternatives emerge from them. Ten case studies were carried out in India, Bolivia, Turkey, Venezuela, Lebanon, Belgium, Canada and Argentina.
The project made it possible to expand and improve the Atlas of Environmental Justice, developing, in particular, special content and analysis on environmental justice in the Arab region. The project developed two conceptual frameworks, the Alternatives Transformation Format and the Conflict Transformation Framework, that guided the field work and analysis on just transformations. A book is being produced which will bring together the case studies, the frameworks and the theory of transformation developed in the project into a comprehensive analysis of just transformations to sustainability from the ground up, which should be ready for publication by 2021.
Read more on the ACKNOWL-EJ website.
Highlights of ACKNOWL-EJ outputs
- An open access collective book will present the main results of ACKnowl-EJ frameworks, case studies and outcomes: Rodriguez, I., Temper, L, Walter, M. (eds.). Just Transformations: Grassroots Movements for Sustainability. Pluto Press (expected 2021).
- This scientific paper reflects the aims of ACKnowl-EJ and some of its key outcomes: Temper, L., Walter, M., Rodriguez, I., Kothari, A., Turhan, E. (2018). A perspective on radical transformations to sustainability: resistances, movements and alternatives. Sustainability Science 13(3):747-764. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0543-8.
Innovative frameworks to approach transformations
Key case study outputs
- A film by KV on a federation of 90 gram sabhas (village assemblies) in Korchi taluka of Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra State in India. This is a story of these gram sabhas, supported by their federation moving towards social, political, economic and ecological transformation and re-defining development and wellbeing. Recognition of their community rights over their traditional forests was one of the important triggers for these transformative processes to unfold.
- Scientific publications (book chapter) on case study results. Korchi case study results, which were also published in the WRM Bulletin, have been used in a compilation of best practices for gender responsive pathways for developing CBDs post-2020 Biodiversity Framework: Pathak Broome, N., Bajpai, S. and Shende, M. (2020). Forest rights act, local collectivisation and transformation in Korchi. In Anders Breidlid, Roy Krøvel (eds.) (2020). Indigenous Knowledges and the Sustainable Development Agenda. ISBN 9780367425968. Routledge.
- Report published with the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation with case study results: Pathak Broome, N., Bajpai, S. and Shende, M. (2020). Mining Conflict and Transformative Alternatives in Korchi. Heinrich Boll Stiftung, India.
- This report is the first time the Alternatives Transformation Format has been used systematically in a case study: Kothari, Ashish, Durgalakshmi Venkataswamy, Ghatit Laheru, Arun Dixit, Kankana Trivedi, and Radhika Mulay (2019) Sandhani: Weaving Transformations in Kachchh, India: The Full Report, Kalpavriksh, Pune, Khamir, Bhuj, and Vankars of Kachchh. (English and Gujarati versions),
- A six-film series made during an intensive two-year research project. The study, called Sandhani, was conducted by Khamir (a craft resource centre in Bhuj), Kalpavriksh (environmental action group in Pune), and the Kachchh vankars (weavers): Sandhani – Transformation amongst handloom weavers of Kachchh, India: A series of six films in two languages.
- This report and film on women from a pastoralist community in Western India present a snapshot narration of the articulations of women from a community called the Raika that practices pastoralism in the state of Rajasthan in Western India.
- Publication in The Ecologist with case study results: Kothari, Ashish. 2019. ‘Weaving transformations’, Ecologist, 18 April: (reprinted in Village Square).
- The introduction to a special issue that presents a collection of compelling empirical evidence of how claims for energy infrastructure’s national significance and/or necessity intersect with the (re)production of political and economic power: Bridge, G., Özkaynak, B. and Turhan, E. 2018. Energy infrastructure and the fate of the nation: Introduction to special issue. Energy Research and Social Science 41:1.
- A scientific paper that analyses indigenous peoples’ resistances and transformations in Canada: Gobby, J. Temper, L. Burke, M., & von Ellenrieder, N. (Forthcoming) Resistance as Governance: Transformative Strategies Forged on the Frontlines of Extractivism in Canada. Extractive Industries and Society.
- A scientific paper that analyses the Transformative processes led by anti-mining movements in Argentina: Walter, M and Wagner, W. (under review). Mining struggles in Argentina. Analysis of a successful story of mobilization. Extractive Industries and Society.
Key Environmental Justice ATLAS outcomes
Work based on the Environmental justice Atlas that was supported by ACKnowl-EJ has
resulted in key scientific and non-scientific publications in high-impact journals:
- This paper explores the EJAtlas database of environmental conflicts, its key actors, strategies and outcomes: Scheidel, A., Del Bene, D. Liu, J., Navas, G. Mingorría, S., Demaria, F., Avila, S., Roy, B., Ertör, I., Temper, T. Martínez-Alier, J. (2020). Environmental conflicts and defenders: A global overview. Global Environmental Change 63.
- This paper discusses the different environmental conflicts that emerge against fossil fuel and low-carbon energy projects. It aims to broader our approach to the socio-environmental consequences of Climate Change adaptation and mitigation policies: Temper, L, Avila S., Del Bene, D., Gobby, J., Kosoy, N., Lebillion, P., Martinez Alier, J., Perkins, P, Roy, B., Scheidel, A., Walter, M., (Nov 2020). Movements shaping climate futures: A systematic mapping of protests against fossil fuel and low-carbon energy projects. Environmental Research Letters.
- This paper presents a compelling critique to SDG goals and their contradictions from an Environmental justice approach: Menton, M., Larrea, C., Latorre, S., Martinez-Alier, J., Peck, M., Temper, L., Walter, M. (2020). Environmental Justice and the SDGs: from synergies to gaps and contradictions. Sustainability Science.
This network received seed funding under phase 1 of the Transformations to Sustainability programme.