By Leah Temper, Daniela del Bene and Joan Martinez-Alier
Mapping the frontiers and front lines of global environmental justice: the EJAtlas
This article highlights the need for collaborative research on ecological conflicts within a global perspective. As the social metabolism of our industrial economy increases, intensifying extractive activities and the production of waste, the related social and environmental impacts generate conflicts and resistance across the world. This expansion of global capitalism leads to greater disconnection between the diverse geographies of injustice along commodity chains. Yet, at the same time, through the globalization of governance processes and Environmental Justice (EJ) movements, local political ecologies are becoming increasingly transnational and interconnected. We first make the case for the need for new approaches to understanding such interlinked conflicts through collaborative and engaged research between academia and civil society. We then present a large-scale research project aimed at understanding the determinants of resource extraction and waste disposal conflicts globally through a collaborative mapping initiative: The EJAtlas, the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice. This article introduces the EJAtlas mapping process and its methodology, describes the process of co-design and development of the atlas, and assesses the initial outcomes and contribution of the tool for activism, advocacy and scientific knowledge. We explain how the atlas can enrich EJ studies by going beyond the isolated case study approach to offer a wider systematic evidence-based enquiry into the politics, power relations and socio-metabolic processes surrounding environmental justice struggles locally and globally.