The case study component of our project seeks to gain in-depth and comparative understanding of the transformative potential of socio-environmental conflicts by looking out how, through resistance or political mobilization, different communities and civil society organizations across the globe are trying to produce a change in policies and projects in order to ensure greater social and environmental justice. We have selected a number of case studies in India, Latin America, Canada, Lebanon and Turkey to study and understand this process of change.
The case studies are analyzed with the aid of our Conflict Transformation and Alternative Transformation Frameworks. In order to help us understand what determines that in some cases more than others the transformative potential of conflicts is realized, we have selected a number of transformative and non-transformative cases. This selection is based in our previous experience and knowledge of the cases.
We also differentiate between in-depth case studies, where we carry out the analysis through a participatory research approach in conjunction with the communities and resistance movements participating in the conflicts, and satellite case studies, where the analysis is carried out by members of the research project as an “outsider” assessment.
Lessons learned from each case study will be shared among case study participants at the end of the project thorough an intercultural meeting. Participatory videos and photo-stories are among of the participatory methods used in the in-depth case studies to give public visibility to the outcomes and challenges of the transformative process and share lessons across case studies.
In the Indian context, local communities are resisting mining and also using the Forest Rights Act (FRA) to evolve alternative models of forest governance and forest-based livelihoods, particularly in Gadchiroli district which has emerged as one of the leading districts in the implementation of the FRA in India. Our objective is to understand how these communities are using FRA and other laws towards social, ecological, political and economic alternatives in their areas. Additionally to understand what narratives related to well being and development are directly or indirectly emerging through these processes and/or being articulated by the people. The case is being conducted in Korchi taluka (subunit of a District) in Gadchiroli District. Specifically three villages, namely, Jhendepar, Bharitola, and Sahle.
In Korchi taluka (a territory of 90 villages) almost all of the 90 villages have had their forest rights recognized. They are now in the process of forming a taluka level federation of gram sabhas (village assemblies) in a democratic and participatory manner. This has led to ensure that gram sabhas receive economic benefits from the forest produce which till now has been appropriated by state agencies and traders while local villagers working as daily wage labourers. These gram sabhas are also facing threats from mining leases and devising collective strategies of resistance, particularly led by women in the area. Apart from collective political processes, cultural expressions are also being used to resist mining and develop sustainable forest-based livelihoods and forest conservation practices. In the past, they have managed to get the government to withdraw the proposed mining but fresh mining continues to be proposed. In their efforts towards the alternatives, the communities continue to face numerous challenges from dominant political formulations, social structures and religious and economic powers. This study is being carried out in collaboration with Amhi Amchi Arogya Saathi (AAAS), an organisation working with the local communities for decades. Through the study we intend to help articulate alternative worldviews that are crucial in defining, living, supporting and propagating the paradigms of well-being that are just, equitable and ecologically wise, resulting in a coherent narrative that is an alternative to a seductive development discourse. In addition to this, the challenges that come up in trying to live these alternative paradigms, strategies deployed to address these challenges; and finally success and failures in addressing the challenges.
For more information on this case study, click here.
Khamir (a platform for handicrafts in Kachchh and our local case study partner) and other such organizations have helped in generating economic prosperity amongst the artisans by bringing market to the rural artisans in Kachchh. However, there is a need to move beyond the economics of the crafts. There is a need to look at the ecological handprint of the craft processes. Increasing tourism and market resulting in increasing demand for Kachchh crafts though beneficial from economic point of view is also resulting in issues related diminishing resources at the back end, negative impact on ecosystem and other issues. There is a need to look at the impacts of the increase in demand on the resource and the environment, and how do craftspeople address these issues.
Along with the issue of resource base, the increasing dependency on the external market might make the artisans vulnerable to the market shifts, might be increasing the issue of inequity within weaver community and between it and other communities. It might hence be important to explore the option of recreating local markets for the craft goods in order to make the artisans self-reliant and independent from the external market forces. While the external forces are affecting the weavers and their craft, the weavers are also interacting and participating in various changes thus, leading to various transformations within their craft practice and also their community. To study these changes and address these issues, along with an ecological study of a particular craft, there is also a need to look at a craft value chain not just from ecological and economic aspects but also from the social, political and cultural aspects.
Using Alternative Transformation Framework (http://www.vikalpsangam.org/static/media/uploads/Resources/alternatives_transformation_framework_revised_20.2.2017.pdf ) as an analysis tool, we are planning to study and understand handloom weaving craft through the lens of the five spheres.
Following are some of the elements which we propose to study in detail from amongst the 5 spheres based on the framework.
Ecological: Sustainability of resource use; and environmental factors esp. pollution (both relevant to the use of natural resources, dyes, water for textiles)
Social: Gender equity; and fulfillment of basic needs and well-being amongst the crafts persons
Political: Governance and use of the commons from where natural resources are taken
Economic: Self-reliance, generation of meaningful livelihoods, and social control over means of production
Cultural: Revival of knowledge commons, intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledge in modern context, envisioning of future
Specific methods for each of these are likely to be developed in association with the local groups from the region.
The TCO (Territorio de Comunidades de Origen) of Lomerio, is managed by the Monkoxi Chiquitano People, among the first indigenous peoples in Bolivia to fight for territorial autonomy. In 2004, after intense indigenous and wider social mobilizations, Bolivia changed its Constitution to become a Pluricultural Nation State, acknowledging differentiated rights for indigenous peoples and the recognition of their territorial rights through TCOs. The TCO model has important implications for the management of commons such as forests. Yet despite the Monkoxi success obtaining territorial property rights and the existence of a communal forestry model in place, the collective management of this vast territory is complex and challenging. The Monkox must cope with a persistent diversity of actors and public policies pressuring for extractive use of its rich natural resources, including mining. This case offers significant insights into the transformative role of the struggle for indigenous rights and autonomy in Lomerio, as well as into challenges that persist for advancing towards environmental sustainability and environmental justice despite, and as a consequence, of the recognition of territorial ownership.
Inturias, M., Rodriguez, I., Balderomar H. and Peña, A. (Eds) (2016). Justicia Ambiental y Autonomía Indígena de Base Territorial en Bolivia. Un dialogo político desde el Pueblo Monkox de Lomerio. Ministerio de Autonomía, Bolivia.
Rodriguez, Iokiñe and Inturias, Mirna (2016). Cameras to the people reclaiming local histories and restoring environmental justice in community based forest management through participatory video. Alternautas 3(1) 2016.
On the Road to Freedom – The History of the Monkox People of Lomerio : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdeWZXFqcWQ
Our Forest, Our Development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTBIgbx3wkQ
The Forest is Our Life, Our Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuUzTfFH6fM
Yeni Foça Forum is the newest offspring of neighbourhood forums (social movements established to protect their right to the city) established after Gezi in the industrial zone of Aliağa Bay. Aliaga is a key industrial site in western Turkey, transformed into an ecological sacrifice zone for shipbreaking, smelting facilities, oil refineries and massive coal-fired power plants since late 1970s. This region recently witnessed an exacerbation of fossil fuel investments making it also the host of global Break Free 2016 mobilization in Turkey. In July 2016 amidst this ‘carbon rush’. Yeni Foça Forum occupied an unused privatized beach (which by the Turkish constitutions needs to be public) and established new commons thus going beyond solely opposition to fossil fuel investments.
More information (in English) here:
More information (in Turkish) here:
This case addresses a particularly strong social mobilization against a mega-jail project that is planned to be built in Haren (Brussels’ region, Belgium) on a 20-ha natural site that provides a large array of ecosystem services to local inhabitants but also to the city of Brussels. The actors involved in the resistance are very diverse (local inhabitants, local NGOs, ZADistes who occupied the site, the syndicate of magistrates, a lawyers association, among others) and represent a “convergence of the struggles”. We claim that this movement is not a NIMBY but an act of “enlightened resistance”. Indeed, the process of enlightened resistance lead involved citizens at the local scale to challenge the legitimacy of authorities by contesting their definition of “common good” or “public interest” across scales. These acts of enlightened resistance create new terrain for a true democratic controversial public debate.
One of the most emblematic and widely known indigenous peoples’ conflict in Venezuela of the last two decades has been the Pemon struggle in Canaima National Park against the building of a high-voltage electricity power line to export electricity to Brazil in 1997. For five consecutive years, the Pemon fought determinedly against the project because they saw it as a threat to their cultural and environmental integrity. They systematically demanded territorial land rights in their struggle and were successful temporarily suspending construction on various occasions. In 1999 they forced a change in the National Constitution to include a chapter on indigenous rights, which now contemplates – for the first time in Venezuelan history – ownership rights for indigenous peoples over their habitats and traditionally occupied ancestral lands (Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, 1999, Art. 119). The constitutional reform was a vital condition in reaching an agreement in which the Pemon allowed the completion of the project (República Bolivariana de Venezuela 2000), conditioned, among others, to the initiation of a process of demarcation and titling of indigenous peoples’ “habitats” within a week of signing. Almost 20 years after, territorial property has not been granted and CNP is under an increasing pressure from illegal mining. Through revisiting the power-line conflict 20 years after, this case study will offer great insights into the opportunities and pitfalls of the Pemon indigenous struggle for transformations towards greater environmental justice in their territories.
Rodriguez, I. (2016) Historical reconstruction and cultural identity building as a local pathway to “Living Well” amongst the Pemon of Venezuela. In: White, S. and C. Blackmore (Eds). Cultures of Wellbeing. Method, Place and Policy. Palgrave MacMillan, Hampshire
Rodriguez, Iokiñe (2014). Canaima National Park and World Heritage Site: Spirit of Evil? In: Disko, Stefan and Tungendhat, Helen (Eds) World Heritage Sites and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. IWGIA, Forest Peoples Programme and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. Copenhagen, Denmark.
In a previous study we have estimated that from 2002 to 2012, 68 community consultations/referenda on large-scale mining activities have been conducted in Latin America challenging centralized consultation and decision making procedures. These consultations are fostered by communities and social movements and usually supported by local governments. Community consultations have contributed to ease local tensions temporarily, slowing down or stopping mining projects in some cases.
We have sustained that consultations constitute a strategy diffused and transformed in the midst of multi-scalar social learning processes where social movements exchange strategies and discourses and a hybridising process occurs in relation to political and cultural local features. Consultations are a strategic tool of social movements and a contested emergent institution – as different state bodies support or reject their validity – that reclaim the right of affected populations and indigenous peoples to participate, in empowering forms, in high-stake decisions that affect their territories, livelihoods and future.
This satellite case aims to deepen the examination of the different processes that led to the emergence and spread of this strategy among communities and how it has been transformative, or not, in time and space.
Walter, M. and Urkidi, L. (2015). Community consultations in Latin America (2002-2012):The contested emergence of a hybrid institution for participation. Geoforum
Documentary on the first local consultation in Tambogrande, Perú (Ernesto Cabellos and Stephanie Boyd, 2007)
Tambogrande: Mangos, Muerte, Minería: https://vimeo.com/14075010 (ESP)
Documentary on the third local consultation occurred in Sipakapa, Guatemala (Alvaro Revenga, 2005)
Sipakapa no se vende:. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfHDgWnBC5s (ESP)
This is a case study of Southern Regional Water Board, a commercialised water board providing water to rural and per-urban people of Ntcheu. Balaka and Mangochi in Southern Malawi. The price of water per household per month is about 8000 Malawi Kwachas whereas Mpira Water Authority, a national service provider located within the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development is providing water to similar residents for less than 50 kwachas per month. The communities embarked on a collective action and decided to boycott the services of Southern Regional Water Board and only get water supply from Mpira Water Scheme. By doing so, they frustrated the efforts of the Government of Malawi’s recognition of water as an economic good and managing water at the lowest level possible. The experience on the ground shows that the IWRM Dublin Principles of 1. Recognising Water as an Economic Good and 2 Decentralization is undermined by local communities, public hospitals and other state agencies and they all opt for supply led and not demand-led water provision strategies.
This study will help the community of these three areas to engage the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development and ensure that they remain in the supply of Mpira Water Scheme and not just the imposed Southern Regional Water Board. Recognising water as a common and public good, with strong subsidies from the state is what will form part of the campaign strategy of the community and other stakeholders. The Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development will surely explore supply led options and not just demand led approaches and also question the operationalization of the two controversial IWRM principles.
The complex political landscape that underlies the Proposed Fuleni Coal Mining Deal in the ecologically and socially sensitive Hluhluwe-Imfolozi region of South Africa has made navigating it a tremendously difficult and confusing task for the average person living in this region. Whether a mine is created or not, now rests on the shoulders of four communities: Novunula, Ocilwane, Nthunthunga and Nthuthunga Two. As it stands the Coal mining company “Ibuthu Coal” is bribing traditional leaders, and successfully fracturing community solidarity and trust. Unifying the community and making visible the many costs (social, economic, cultural and ecological) associated with this mine is of upmost importance. Understanding this we have developed an accessible alternative to community meetings, complicated PowerPoint presentations, and public arguments/stale-mates in the form of a transgressive Theatre, Radio Drama and a social learning project, that offers comprehensive participation of all those affected by the mine, and to develop a collective imagination for alternative forms of development in the region. This project and case study is not just an isolated event, but rather part of developing a long-lived sustainable ‘community-of-practice’ that can ensure the future welfare of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi region, and we see this initiative as the beginning of longer collaboration with these four communities, as well as Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Hluhluwe-Imflolozi parks and other parties. This project does not aim to stop development in this region, but rather find the most sustainable and appropriate form of development.
Short trailer on the initiative: