Partners responsible: CDCA – Documentation Centre on Environmental Conflicts, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona – ICTA
Coordinators: Lucie Greyl, Salvatore Altiero, Giacomo Dalisa, Christos Zografos
Authors: Diego Andreucci, María J. Beltrán, Rita Calvário, Creighton Connolly, Julie De Los Reyes, Salvatore Paolo De Rosa, Irmak Ertör, Melissa Garcia-Lamarca, Marien González-Hidalgo. Amelie Huber, Panagiota Kotsila, Gustavo García López, Santiago Gorostiza, Felipe Milanez, Giorgos Velegrakis, Irina Velicu, Jonah Wedekind Editors: María J. Beltrán, Panagiota Kotsila, Gustavo García López, Giorgos Velegrakis, Irina Velicu
The study of human-environment interactions has a long history from different disciplines. Political Ecology (PE) is an emerging interinterdisciplinary approach to study human-environment interactions with a critical lens. In general, it is focused on how power inequalities relate to environmental changes, and to the distribution of their costs and benefits.
A central feature of political ecology is the politicization of environmental problems. This means that environmental problems are seen as problems of distribution and the exercise of political and economic power, marked by conflicts over alternative futures and clashes between alternative values and imaginaries. Recognizing this means that environmental problems one has to attend to political and economic problems: problems of democracy, of economy, of ideology, etc. Therefore, there is a crucial distinction between what PE calls political explanations of environmental problems and apolitical ones (also apolitical ecology).
Attempts to explain environmental degradation based on factors like “poverty” or “population” are understood as apolitical because they do not attend to the root causes of poverty or of population growth, nor do they consider the stark inequalities in resource consumption between rich and poor populations. PE emphasizes re-historicizing and re-contextualizing problems in the socio-ecological sphere. This means looking at these problems as historical processes and in a particular set of political and economic conditions that include national and international policies, balance of forces between different sectors of society, and conflicts. Some of the main theses studied in political ecology include the relation between social-ecological marginalization and degradation, the causes, characteristics and outcomes of environmental conflicts, the relation between environmental conservation and government control over territories, and the role of social movements in achieving more just and sustainable socio-ecological conditions.
This publication was made possible thanks to funding:
European Unionís Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration (Marie Curie Actions) under grant agreement no 289374 (ENTITLE)