Political ecology approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptive livelihood strategies

Andrew Newsham (SOAS, University of London )
Room 7 (Examination Schools)
Start time:
13 September, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel presents 'political ecology' analyses of power and politics at play in contexts of 'eco-system based adaptation' programs in Mexico, large dam construction in Asia and Africa, and practices of agro-biodiversity among indigenous smallholders in the Bolivian altiplano.

Long abstract:

This panel presents political ecology critiques of policies currently popular in the pursuit of sustainable development in three different national settings. The papers explore relationships between political, economic and social factors in relation to environmental issues and changes, analyse 'what people do' and 'why' in relation to natural resources, and highlight issues of 'power' in setting agendas and producing ecological outcomes. Newsham examines 'eco-system based adaptation' programs undertaken by multilateral agencies and international NGOs involved in conservation and development in three field sites in Mexico, and questions the rosy 'win-win-win' picture of these interventions. He argues that EBA obscures local alternatives, that population matters in shaping benefits of these programs, and that neoliberal dynamics shape and limit what these initiatives can achieve. Urban and Siciliano question the current favourable light in which hydropower is regarded as a less-harmful energy source, and based on the comparative analysis of 4 dams in Asia and Africa, they examine the role of Chinese dam builders, and of national host governments in determining how large dams and their environmental and social impacts are being governed and managed. They show how scale plays out in the distribution of costs and benefits and suggest some measures to balance out this distribution. Finally, Baldinelli examines how agro-biodiversity practiced by indigenous smallholders in the Bolivian altiplano maintains 'traditional practices', and how these practices have responded to new stimuli and priorities. In particular, she explores the role of migrants in generating and maintaining practices of agro-biodiversity.