The ACKnowl-EJ aims to develop two frameworks to understand Conflict and Alternatives Transformations.
A Conflict and Alternatives Transformations Framework is one of the important contributions of the ACKnowl_EJ Project. It has been designed to help learn from conflict transformation practices across the globe that have been brought about by resistance movements, and to gain more in-depth understanding of alternative transformations in political, economic, social, cultural and ecological fronts, and of the worldviews that underlie or inform such transformations.
Apart from assisting in the analysis of individual conflict transformation cases, this framework can help share knowledge between different initiatives, narratives and well-being alternatives emerging from ground movements that seek to bring about needed societal transformations for sustainability and learn from the impact there are having in practice. It brings together two separate but complementary frameworks developed in the Global South: the Conflict Transformation Framework developed by Grupo Confluencias in Latin America and the Alternatives Transformation Framework, developed by Kalpavriksh, India.
These frameworks are being used in the project to analyze transformative conflicts in the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice, where 1900 cases have already been collected (see EJATLAS section), and in a number of selected case studies from India, the Americas, Lebanon and Turkey, South Africa, etc (see case study section).
It was developed by Grupo Confluencias to learn from transformations brought about in Latin America by resistance movements, activists, academics and policy makers that are trying to engage with the roots causes of environmental conflicts in the region, but also to help enhance these processes of change through helping vulnerable and other key actors conceptualize and strategize conflict transformation. The framework seeks to answer the following two questions:
- How is an environmental conflict transformed towards greater social and environmental justice? And, most importantly, what is transformed?
- What are the major challenges for environmental conflict transformation in terms of overcoming power asymmetries, strengthening or generating social capital, creating stable and effective institutions, producing changes in public policies, helping to change the logic of development and international environmental policies, helping to build intercultural relations, and enhancing the role of transformative actors in these processes?
A central aspect of the Conflict Transformation Framework is the attention paid to understanding the role that power dynamics and culture play in environmental conflicts and their transformation. It seeks to help understand how hegemonic power is exercised in environmental conflicts at three levels (structure, actor-networks and culture) but most importantly, how such hegemonic power is confronted, contested and impacted in order to create more social and environmental justice. Thus, with a focus on power analysis, conflict transformation strategies and their impacts, it can help identify concrete processes of transformations brought about by resistance movements and other actors.
Through a set of Conflict Transformation Indicators, the framework can help assess how and when a transformative conflict is moving towards a situation of greater justice. These indicators include: reduction of violence (direct, structural, and cultural), increase in political participation, equitable distribution of harms and benefits from the environment, recognition of cultural diversity and rights, diversification/ and increased local control of means of production and technology, construction of interculturality, strengthening of environmental institutions and governance structures, and enhancing environmental integrity.
For more information on how the framework is applied, see Case Study section.
- Rodriguez, I., Inturias, M., Borel, R., Cabria, A y Sarti, C. 2016. Justicia Ambiental y Autonomías Indígenas en América Latina: avances y desafíos. En: Inturias, M., Rodriguez, I., Valderomar H. and Peña, A. (Eds) (2016). Justicia Ambiental y Autonomia Indigenas de Base Territorial en Bolivia. Un dialogo político desde el Pueblo Monkox de Lomerio. Ministerio de Autonomía, Bolivia.
- Rodríguez, Iokiñe, Mirna Inturias, Juliana Robledo, Carlos Sarti, Rolain Borel, Ana Cabria Melace. 2015. Abordando la Justicia Ambiental desde la Transformación de Conflictos: experiencias en América Latina con Pueblos Indígenas. Revista de Paz y Conflictos, 2(8):97-128.
- Rodriguez, I. et al. 2015. Transformación de Conflictos Socio Ambientales e Interculturalidad. Explorando las Interconexiones. Grupo Confluencias, Centro de Estudios Políticos y Sociales (Universidad de los Andes), Organización Regional de Pueblos Indígenas del Amazonas (ORPIA). Mérida, Venezuela.
Vikalp Sangam meeting
By ‘alternative initiatives’ is meant those practical and conceptual processes that are aimed at or bring about systemic changes in political, economic, social and cultural structures that cause social injustice, inequities and ecological unsustainability. The motivation behind the ATF is the quest to answer the questions: what is a systemic or transformative alternative, distinct from a change that is merely reformative within the existing system? what are the key elements of such an alternative, and how can one assess which elements are being transformed in an initiative? what about if one element is being transformed, but another remaining the same or regressing? how can those taking part in the change assess for themselves whether their process is holistic, and if not, how to make it so? And in all this, what kinds of worldviews, cosmologies, frameworks of values and ethics underpin such a transformation?
The ATF is arranged according to (a) the key spheres of transformation: political democracy, economic democracy, social justice, cultural and knowledge diversity, and ecological wisdom; (b) the specific elements of which each of these sphere is comprised, and (c) the key indicators to enable assessment of whether positive transformation is taking place in each of these elements. Indicators are oriented more at outcomes than at processes, but the latter can also be built into the assessment as appropriate.
The ATF stresses that the primary users of the framework must be those involved in the transformative initiative; it is not meant to be a means by which external researchers or government officials or others ‘judge’ the initiative, nor is it meant to be used to compare one initiative with another. Specific methodologies by which each element can be assessed need to be worked out as relevant in that context.
‘The search for alternatives: Key aspects and principles’, 4th draft for discussion in Vikalp Sangam process