PhD Candidate, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney
This research examines various factors that govern the effectiveness of environmental justice movements in developing countries. Environmental justice movements relate to protests organized by local communities against adverse environmental impacts, and the lack of their involvement in the process of developmental projects-governance. The people in the communities around the Koshi River in Nepal have been demanding compensation from a project, the Koshi River Project, for many years. The river is a transboundary river between India and Nepal, and is a major tributary to the Ganges. The project was developed in the 1950s following an international agreement between the countries to construct a barrage and other structures in an area located in Nepal close to the border between the countries. The objectives of the project were to irrigate land and to control flood in the downstream country, India. Apart from these, the project also aimed at producing electricity from the stored water in the barrage. Ironically, many people in the communities around the river lost their house, land and crops due to floods resulting from the construction. The collection of data has been done through interviews conducted with the people in the communities, local political party leaders, local NGO representatives, national level bureaucrats and national level politicians. Depending upon the data, this research has explored various factors that explain the failure of environmental justice movements. The study shows that an environmental justice movement is a time-taking process that depends upon commitment of political leaders, efficiency of bureaucrats and clarity of policies and regulations. Furthermore, the pain that the people in the communities suffer during the movements sometimes becomes gain for the political leaders as the leaders take advantage of the movements for gaining power.
Abstract: Hydropower dams have been criticised for their social and environmental implications. There have been attempts to create international social standards for hydropower dam projects, but these standards have had limited impact. This article uses an extended environmental justice framework to make sense of the resettlement and compensation schemes for Indigenous peoples who were resettled for the construction of the Bakun dam in Borneo, East Malaysia. The article therefore analyses the social protection measures designed for the protection of Indigenous peoples and their livelihoods. The case study is based on in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with local communities, institutional actors in Malaysia, Chinese actors and dam builders. The article concludes that the social protection policies did not protect Indigenous people and their land sufficiently, but it facilitated a commodification process of both land and people. This should also be understood as a colonisation of their land and their cultures.
Pub.: 04 Jul '17, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
Abstract: River floods usually do not stop at administrative borders. The respective location of municipalities along a river creates different options and dependencies, commonly referred to as upstream–downstream relations. This regional dimension of flood risk calls for catchment-based approaches in flood risk management as advocated by the EU Flood Directive. In this article, we present and assess the case of an intermunicipal cooperation in Austria which aims to alleviate flood risk and coordinate planning activities based on a catchment approach. The authors apply an established model of water governance to characterise the governance features and to assess the governance qualities and governance capacities of the intermunicipal cooperation. Findings show that the selected case qualifies as a suitable governance instrument to address the main policy objectives. Existing functional ties, shared (flooding) experiences, and mutual trust mark key success factors, indicating that proximity – in its many different forms – is crucial to overcome power asymmetries and spatial misfits in catchment-based flood risk management. However, intermunicipal cooperation is weak when it comes to ensuring binding land use regulations, showing the need for a complementary use of governance arrangements and formal instruments of regional land use planning in flood risk management.
Pub.: 21 Sep '16, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
Abstract: I assess the outcomes of issues related to environmental justice under conditions of scientific uncertainty and cultural diversity using the case of the Tseng-Wen Reservoir Transbasin Water Diversion Project, Taiwan, to explore policy stakeholders’ perceptions and the policy implications of indigenous struggles and local action. This water conflict reflects the expansion of a development-focused and resource-securing state, and represents a pattern of exclusion and control that disturbs traditional indigenous land and water systems. This study underscores the interrelationship among problems related to the inequitable distribution of interests and risk; the lack of recognition of cultural differences, local knowledge, and perspectives; and exclusion from the environmental impact assessment and decision-making processes. The findings also highlight local distrust of experts and the conflicts and confrontations among experts in differing disciplines. I argue that in order to reach a consensus through intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogue, local circumstances and knowledge must be included in knowledge production and policymaking.
Pub.: 11 Aug '16, Pinned: 31 Aug '17
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