Abstracts Special Sessions  

Author(s) Affiliation(s) Title
Christina Ankenbrand and Julia Renner Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate
University of Koblenz-Landau
Natural Resource Governance in Africa – Needs, Challenges and Opportunities for the International Community
Martin Coy & Damien Arvor
University of Innsbruck
BR-163: A hot spot of socio-environmental change in the Brazilian Amazon. Drivers of regional development and governance conditions for social-ecological transformation
Stefan Giljum Vienna University of Economics and Business FINEPRINT: geospatial assessments of the environmental impacts of global resource extraction
Christoph Görg University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna Analyzing stocks, flows and services for a social-ecological transformation
Anne Hennings, Janpeter Schilling, Nina Engwicht & Christina Saulich University of Muenster A local to global perspective on resource governance and conflict
Michael Klingler  University of Innsbruck Frontier spaces: Discussing new forms of territorialization, resource control and social imaginaries
Oliver Pye & Stefania Barca Bonn University
University of Coimbra
Labour and Social-Ecological Transformation
Fernando Ruiz Peyré & Felix Dorn
University of Innsbruck Political ecology of lithium. Between e-mobility and social-ecological conflicts

Natural Resource Governance in Africa – Needs, Challenges and Opportunities for the International Community

Chairs: Christina Ankenbrand (Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate) & Julia Renner (University of Koblenz-Landau)

Session Description

Poor natural resource governance has been linked to numerous threats to peace and human security. On the one hand, natural resource abundance has been linked to a number of institutional, political, economic and societal problems. In addition, on the sub-national level the consequences of resource extraction can also endanger peace and human security because of conflicts between investors, governments and local populations. On the other hand, scarcity in natural resources can also stimulate societal conflicts, especially on the sub-national level. In general, an unsustainable and discriminatory handling of resources like land, water, timber and minerals but also the capitalisation of land contributes to increased inequalities and generates regional instabilities, particularly in Africa. It was especially the emergence of resource-based conflict financing that sparked the debate on good natural resource governance and corporate social responsibility. As of today, the debate about how to properly manage both scarce and abundant natural resources so that violent conflicts not only are avoided but economic development and human security are improved is still ongoing. In this context, the role and responsibility of the international community is of fundamental importance.
As a result, a number of global governance initiatives and national reform processes that involve different constellations of international governmental and non-governmental organisations, globally acting companies and national governments are targeting conflict-prone natural resource sectors. Popular examples on the global level are the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) or the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). On the national or sub-national level, initiatives support legal reform processes, provide financial assistance, for example to environmental protection projects, or aim to enhance the capacity of local communities. Whether these interventions are successful depends on their effective implementation on the international as well as on the national level.
This Panel addresses how the international community can and should contribute to reforming Africa’s natural resource sector drawing on case studies from East and West Africa. The authors present various cases of natural resource governance and analyse needs, challenges and opportunities for the international community to contribute to a sustainable and development-promoting management of resources. They reflect on the policy implications of measures taken so far, and develop policy recommendations for natural resource governance.


The Space of Post-Conflict Law-Making: the Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent in Liberia

Author: Ricarda Roesch (Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

As Liberia’s bloody civil from 1980 to 2003 was, to a considerable extent, funded by the exploitation of its forests, the UN Security Council in 2001, for the first time, imposed logging sanctions. Consequently, after the end of the war, international actors, including US agencies, transnational and national nongovernmental organizations and the Liberian government embarked upon a post-conflict legal reform process that, unlike in other cases, targeted not only the rule of law, but also natural resource governance. The reform of the forestry sector was declared to be a matter of national emergency. The dominant narrative at the time was that peace-building and -keeping in Liberia required a community based approach to forestry. Consequently, the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) became an important buzz word. FPIC is a concept of international indigenous law, according to which communities have to consent to measures that affect them in a considerable way. It is most commonly discussed in relation to land and natural resources. This article explores (1) how FPIC was negotiated in the legal reform process, (2) the position of the different actors in the reform process and (3) how the reconceptualization of FPIC in Liberia was ultimately a compromise between different actors, discourses and also reflected hierarchies within the space of post-conflict law-making.


What Makes Reforms Effective? A Human Security Perspective on Natural Resource Governance

Authors: Nina Engwicht (Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate/University of Koblenz-Landau) & Jan Grabek (Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate)

As the European Union is intensifying its efforts to curb the negative externalities of natural resource extraction on producing countries the question arises what it can learn from earlier initiatives that have aimed to address the challenges of the so-called resource curse. Present and former reform schemes alike are based on the premise that changes in natural resource management can enable societies to mitigate the negative effects of global demands for their resources. Based in a critique of formalization-oriented approaches to resource sector reform, this article employs an analytical perspective of human security to investigate the impact of transformations in environmental governance on the wellbeing of populations affected by resource extraction. It analyzes the successes and shortcomings of reforms in natural resource governance across two cases: The forestry sector in Liberia and the diamond sector in Sierra Leone. The study develops recommendations for future strategies striving to improve resource governance.

Water Shortages at Watery Bodies – The Impacts of Man-Made Activities on Resource Induced Conflicts in Kenya

Author: Julia Renner (University of Koblenz-Landau)

Much has been written on climate change, its impacts on the availability of natural resources, and challenges of contestation over these resources in the Global South. Multiple studies link
environmental changes to resource degradations, scarcity and violent conflict. Sub-Saharan Africa and especially the Eastern African Community is widely recognized as a region most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and therewith to experience resource related conflicts more often. Hence, the geographical focus of these studies is mostly concentrated on areas which experience resource shortages and conflicts most time of the year, e.g. the Turkana Region in Kenya, the Kenyan-Ugandan border region Karamoja as well as the Ilemi Triangle (Kenya-Ethopia-South Sudan). The increased concentration of the Kenyan government to promote economic development in order to create employment opportunities but also to strengthen the Kenyan GDP, more often contributes to inequality, generates instability, and challenges the relationship between different local actors but also the nature-societal relations. One of the hotspots of this economic upgrading can be found in central Kenya, in Nakuru county, in particular around Lake Naivasha. As a result of these industrial promotions, a growing number of national and multi-national companies have arrived around Lake Naivasha since the late 1980s. My findings illustrate how these national and multi-national companies impact on land degradations, de-forestations, over-abstraction of water but also of pollution of the lake’s water. Thus, they lay foundations for resource induced conflicts in an actually resource rich area. Drawing on my research trip to Kenya and Uganda in July and August 2018, I examine to what extent water shortages at watery bodies impact on local and sub-national conflict levels.

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BR-163: A hot spot of socio-environmental change in the Brazilian Amazon
Drivers of regional development and governance conditions for social-ecological transformation

Chairs: Martin Coy (University of Innsbruck) & Damien Arvor (University of Rennes 2)

Session description

Over the last decades, the struggles around the pavement of the BR-163 highway from Cuiabá (Mato Grosso) to Santarém (Pará) represented one of the most emblematic conflicts in the Brazilian Amazon between a globalization-driven regional development on the one hand, rainforest conservation and sustainability-oriented strategies on the other. The dynamics of highly modernized soy farming and cattle ranching, as well as the implementation of large dams for energy production stand for the main driving forces of recent frontier expansion from the Cerrado-regions of Mato Grosso towards Southern Pará and the consequent incorporation and transformation of rainforest areas. Efforts of the Lula-governments to implement innovative measures of environmental governance for the BR-163 corridor led to a rapid decrease of deforestation after 2004. However, enormous economic and political pressure of agribusiness and related groups associated to global market conditions indicate that the agricultural frontier is still very dynamic so that long term reversions of the mentioned trends of frontier expansion are not to be expected. However, perspectives for a social-ecological transformation are urgently needed considering the environmental impacts of frontier expansion and its implications for (regional and global) climate change. In this sense, the BR-163 is much more than a specific regional socio-environmental conflict. It stands for the multi-scalar entanglement of economic and political interests, power relations and logics of action of the involved stakeholders. The Special Session aims at joining results from recent empirical research in and about the study area from different conceptual and methodological perspectives, generated under the EU-financed ODYSSEA network (Observatory of the dynamics of interactions between societies and environment in the Amazon). Analyses of recent land-use and land-cover change and its driving forces come into dialogue with investigations about the expansion strategies of the agribusiness, conflicts between land-use tendencies and the implementation of environmental governance, perspectives of climate change as well as studies on changing rural-urban interactions. Building on this interdisciplinary dialogue, the objective of the proposed Special Session is to identify resources, potentials and blockades for initiating processes of social-ecological transformation under the conditions of a highly contested hot spot of men-environment contradictions.


Climate Change in the Br 163 Region: A Multiscale Analysis

Authors: Vincent Dubreuil; Damien Arvor; Beatriz Funatsu & Vincent Nédélec (University of Rennes 2)

Climatic resources, especially a long and regular rainy season, represented a favorable context for migrants moving along the BR163 road in Mato Grosso to develop agriculture. In return, this region has undergone profound landscape changes including deforestation, agricultural expansion and urbanization that led to climate changes via the modification of surface conditions (roughness, albedo, soil moisture). In this presentation, we propose a multi-scale analysis of these changes using in-situ and remote sensing data:

  • At the scale of Mato Grosso, the trends of changes in rainfall volumes and rainy season dates show sometimes divergent evolutions to which producers try to adapt, for example by multiplying farm dams and irrigation pivots.
  • At regional and local scales, significant differences are observed between forest and pasture or croplands, especially during the dry season.
  • At local scale, the extension of cities such as Alta Floresta, Sorriso or Sinop contribute to generate urban heat islands, well marked during the night and the dry season.

We show that, beyond the global effects of deforestation on the water and carbon cycles in the Amazon, the climate consequences of such geographic transformations are reflected first on local and regional scales and are particularly spectacular in northern Mato Grosso.


Along the BR-163 in Mato Grosso: Regional implications of coupling with Global Production Networks of soybeans

Author: Christoph Huber (University of Innsbruck, ÖAW)

Brazil has seen an unprecedented rise in soybean production in the last decades and became the world’s largest soybean exporter. One of the expansion corridors of soybean production runs along the BR 163 in the north of Mato Grosso. The soybean production has created regional highly complex socio-economic arrangements that assemble integration into a global production networks. Although global transnational corporations (traders, agrochemical firms) have a position of power in these global production networks, also Brazilian farmers have become large-scale producers and also Brazilian megafirms have emerged with vertical integration into global production networks. The mono-structural economic focus on soy has turned the soy producers into regional influential elites which have taken up central political positions and therefore have become key players for regional development. As a consequence regional development strategies are highly aligned with the logic of global production networks of soybeans. Against such a background, this contribution focus on the different strategies of soybean agribusiness actors, depending on their power and position in global production networks of soybeans and the resulting implications for possibilities and limitations of sustainable regional development.


Agribusiness, rural-urban relations and social-ecological transformation: The case of the Sinop region in Northern Mato Grosso

Authors: Martin Coy, Tobias Töpfer (University of Innsbruck) & Frank Zirkl (University of Innsbruck; Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt)

In Northern Mato Grosso, the expansion of the soybean agribusiness caused deep transformations of economic, social and territorial structures. This is especially true for the BR-163 corridor. Under the influence of a highly modernized and globalized production system regional and local actor constellations, social and power relations, as well as the societal relations with nature have been subject to profound changes. Due to the specific character of the soy business – local-global entanglement, high degree of mechanization, frequent use of different urban based services – rural-urban relations are submitted to specific re-configurations: Increasingly, new regional centres and “agro-towns” such as Sinop, the case study of this contribution, exert the function of powerful multi-purpose “command centres” whereas the countryside is more and more reduced to serve as a “production machine”. These constellations influence local perceptions and discourses of the need for, as well as the feasibility of a social-ecological transformation.
This contribution is based on extended fieldwork in the Sinop region (surveys, expert interviews, thematic mappings) and aims to scrutinize determining elements of the regional “societal relation with nature” in order to uncover, in this way, the potentials and blockades for a (regional) social-ecological transformation.


From zero deforestation to zero illegality. Discussing practices of territorialization in Southwest Pará.

Authors: Michael Klingler & Philipp Mack (University of Innsbruck)

Environmental policy changes and supply chain interventions greatly influenced the post-2004 deforestation slowdown in the Brazilian Amazon. Nevertheless, since 2012 deforestation rates are on the rise again. Especially in Southwest Pará, where the frontier dynamics of speculative deforestation and illegal cattle ranching are ubiquitous, deforestation is far from ‘zero’. Even though a series of governmental command-and-control actions to control illegal deforestation have been implemented, especially the situation of land tenure insecurity dulls the story of governance success in the region.
We argue that the rural environmental registry (CAR) is a significant practice of territorialization to establish control over people and resources in space. In this context our analysis highlights contradictions of zero deforestation strategies and efforts to strengthen zero ‘illegality’ by developing rural economy in terms of socio-ecological sustainability.


Local initiatives to promote the implementation of the Brazilian Forest Code in the Amazon: a focus on the BR-163 region, Mato Grosso

Author: Marion Daugeard (CREDA, Univ. of Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Six years after the Brazilian Forest Code has been reformed (May 2012), much remains to be done to ensure its implementation, especially in the Amazon. Although officially 100% of rural landowners have registered their properties in the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), efforts are still insufficient to achieve environmental compliance. Since it is often considered that environmental compliance must be pushed "from the top", most studies on the Forest Code focus on discussions and commitments led at national or federal levels to enforce compliance and rely on macro analysis combining remote sensing and qualitative data to identify changes in behaviors and assess the landowners’ compliance. However, initiatives are also being implemented locally, especially at municipality level, following a “bottom-up” approach. Although the role of such local initiatives to control deforestation has been clearly highlighted (for example through pilot initiatives such as in Paragominas, Pará), their potential to support environmental compliance is little emphasized. In this study, we identified and analyzed municipal initiatives through online surveys and telephone interviews of 68 municipalities in the Amazon part of Mato Grosso state and collection of data on the internet and fieldwork. The aim of this contribution is (i) to present our results, particularly in the area of the BR 163 road, a very strategic agricultural region, and (ii) to discuss the role played, and the potential role to be played by municipalities to encourage Forest Code compliance.


Perceptions, politics and municipal public action: agriculture and climate variability in Mato Grosso

Neli Aparecida de Mello-Théry (University of São Paulo), Vincent Dubreuil, Beatriz Funatsu, Damien Arvor (University of Rennes 2) & Eduardo Caldas (University of São Paulo)

The problematic analyzed is the insertion of new concepts of perception and adaptation to climate change in policies and public actions, based on the positions of key actors in agriculture in Mato Grosso located in some municipalities of the State. Aiming to understand the effectiveness of municipal policy by incorporating factors of climate variability, semi-structured interviews with key actors and fieldwork in the region, complemented by information and data obtained in official institutional documents are the elements of the analysis of perception and public policy. In addition to the local scale, the aim is to identify as well regional and national positions.
Some conclusions point out that, although municipal government reaffirms in its mission and values the objectives of economic, social and sustainable development, and public institutions and actors repeat in their speeches the main terms of international agreements and protocols, there are insignificant changes in their institutional behavior.

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FINEPRINT: geospatial assessments of the environmental impacts of global resource extraction

Chair: Stefan Giljum

Session description
Today, the world economy uses more than 90 billion tonnes of renewable and non-renewable raw materials each year, compared to around 27 billion tonnes in 1970. This remarkable growth in resource flows strongly increased environmental pressures and impacts related to resource extraction. Large-scale mining of metal ores and non-metallic minerals leads to degradation, fragmentation, or even complete destruction of natural habitats and is characterised by high energy and land requirements as well as high levels of water use and pollution. Growing biomass production in agriculture and forestry causes pressures through high water use for irrigation, disturbance of nutrient cycles and land use changes, with negative biodiversity impacts. This rapid growth in resource extraction is accompanied and accelerated by a transformation of the international trade system, leading to a shift of resource extraction activities away from the industrialised countries to the Global South. Today, already more than a third of globally extracted materials serve as direct and indirect inputs for the production of internationally traded products.
Methods to assess raw material flows on the national level, covering extraction, trade and consumption have been standardised in the past two decades. Today, the UN International Resource Panel maintains and regularly updates a global reference database on national material flows (http://www.resourcepanel.org/global-material-flows-database). However, this level of spatial detail is not sufficient to allow assessing the often regionally, or even locally, specific environmental impacts of resource extraction. New approaches are therefore required that enable moving material flow analysis from the aggregated national level to a high spatial detail.
This special session presents results from the ongoing project FINEPRINT (www.fineprint.global) funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The overall objective of FINEPRINT is to develop a spatially explicit and highly detailed global material flow model covering extraction, transportation, processing and final consumption, in order to perform fine-scale assessments of Europe’s global material footprint and the related environmental and social impacts.
The four presentations in this special session focus on ongoing research related to spatially explicit assessments of global resource extraction and resulting environmental impacts, such as water scarcity or deforestation. The session discusses new methods to create time series of global resource extraction maps on a detailed (10 x 10 km) grid, including maps for agricultural production and metal mining. The session also illustrates how new environmental data sets related to resource extraction can be created, taking the example of water use in global metal mining. Finally, presenters also introduce concepts and methods to analyse spatially explicit resource extraction data in combination with environmental impact data, in order to identify global impact hotspots.

Moving material flow analysis from the national to the spatially explicit level

Author: Stefan Giljum (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

A wide range of case studies has been published in recent years, which illustrate the various impacts of material extraction, including deforestation and biodiversity loss due to agriculture or land degradation and water pollution from mining activities. However, the global picture of how the extraction of certain commodities is linked to specific impact patterns is still missing. In the first presentation, we introduce the FINEPRINT project and the methodological approaches to move the analysis of material flows from the aggregated national level to a grid cell level on a world-wide scale. This is a necessary step for properly connecting data on material extraction with spatial information on environmental and social impacts and performing geospatial assessments.

Using global crop maps to improve the estimation of impacts associated with biomass production

Author: Victor Maus (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

After most space agencies adopted open data policies, a deluge of new datasets for spatially explicit analysis of crop production and related impacts has become available in recent years. Here we present a set of global crop maps openly available as well as the potential of novel remote sensing approaches to providing high-resolution crop maps. We illustrate how these spatially explicit datasets can be combined to reduce the uncertainty on environmental and social impacts associated with global biomass production. Our approach provides more accurate information for the design of international policy instruments aiming at sustainable biomass production.


Creating global extraction maps for non-renewable resources

Author: Mirko Lieber (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

In order to assess the potential environmental impacts of both mining and oil and gas production on a spatiotemporal level, comprehensive datasets are needed. This requires the inclusion of a variety of information about each production site, e.g. location, amount and type of production or processing, as well as surface area. Focusing on mining activities we present a method to combine input data from a variety of primary data sources, considering the relevance for assessments of respective environmental or social impacts. We also illustrate, how this openly available data might be useful for other research communities to base further research upon.

Assessing water inputs of global mining activities

Author: Stephan Lutter (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

In comparison to other economic sectors, metal mining is not using the largest quantities of water for its extraction activities. However, due to the geographic location of mine sites, the impacts of water use on local habitats and societies can be immense. As real data on water input in metal mining is still scarce, we present an approach to estimate water requirements in metal mining. Based upon data reported by mining companies and in scientific literature we use information on metal ore grades, production methods and quantities as well as climatic conditions to approximate water input in metal mining around the globe.

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Analyzing stocks, flows and services for a social-ecological transformation

Chair: Christoph Görg

Session description

The extraction and increasing use of natural resources has been discussed increasingly over the last years. Resource extraction and waste discharge have led to social-ecological conflicts while attempts have been made by international agreements such as the Sustainable Development Goals to confront sustainability problems. There is an expanding debate on more radical approaches taking socioeconomic and political-institutional patterns of production and consumption into account when examining potentials for a social-ecological transformation. Yet, the material and historical dimensions of possibilities for a social-ecological transformation and their interlinkages with the institutional need greater attention.
Natural resources, conceptualized as material stocks are key for understanding openings for socialecological transformation. These stocks, which are for example buildings, infrastructure or machinery, can be characterized as hybrid. This means they are grounded in a biophysical materiality and they are socially defined, power relations are being inscribed into them. Stocks are linked to material and energy flows, which are needed to maintain stocks. Together, stocks and flows provide services such as food, shelter or mobility mediated by provisioning systems. How these provisioning systems are structured impacts on transformation strategies. In the same way, not only stock building but also the legacy of stocks defines pathways and therefore may hinder or advance transformation. Focusing on stocks and their interaction with flows, services and provisioning systems including their historical development helps thus identifying different strategies of how to possibly transform (e.g. via efficiency, sufficiency) or why these strategies fail.
This interdisciplinary session will discuss natural resources understood as material stocks and the flows and services related to it from a social ecology perspective. It will introduce a conceptual framework how to analyze the stock-flow-service nexus and its potential for analyzing socialecological transformation. Furthermore, it will present global data on stock building. An analysis of the Marshall Plan will serve as a concrete example of how infrastructure structures and organizes future pathways.


The stock-flow-service nexus: The role of provisioning systems and its implications for a socialecological transformation

Authors: Christina Plank (Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), Stefan Liehr (ISOE – Institute for Social Ecological Research) & Christoph Görg (Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

Natural resources and man-made structures, understood as material stocks, predefine the use of resources in society. Stocks, for example infrastructure, buildings, machinery or oil fields are interlinked with material and energy flows and produce services. These services such as food, housing or mobility are offered by provisioning systems. We argue that how provisioning systems are constituted is crucial for understanding the stock-flow-service nexus and its transformation. In our contribution, we therefore present a conceptual framework how to comprehend provisioning systems with regard to the stock-flow-service nexus for analyzing possibilities for social-ecological transformation.
Different strands in the literature have discussed provisioning systems. Sustainable consumption literature has highlighted the role of consumers and their practices. From social-ecological systems research, provisioning system are always biophysically and socially defined. Frankfurt school of Social Ecology understands provisioning systems as specific arrangement of patterns and modes of regulation and put up four dimensions for analysis – institutions, technology, practices and knowledge. Drawing on this, we combine this understanding of provisioning systems with elements of the Systems of Provision approach developed by Fine. This allows for refining criteria for the analysis of social relations of a specific provisioning service within the nexus, which include structural elements such as ownership or control but also agency and power relations.
As a result, services can be understood as defined by structure and agency, and the associated power relations and materially by stocks and flows. Services are multidimensional and contested, i.e. not all stocks provide services that fulfill people’s needs (e.g. military). They can transform into disservices or provide “hidden” services, which do not serve the purpose they are defined for but rather as a means of representation or oppression (e.g. Olympics) or a mechanism of expansion of capital and power. Once, stocks are in place (e.g. incineration plants), they rely on material flows and energy regardless of the service required. In addition, stocks and thus services are not equally distributed over space and reinforce social inequality.


A century of global material stock accumulation: implications for sustainability transformations

Authors: Helmut Haberl, Dominik Wiedenhofer & Fridolin Krausmann (Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

A transformation toward sustainability requires far-reaching changes in the patterns of societies’ use of biophysical resources. Current socio-metabolic research is focused on the flows of energy, materials or substances: input of raw materials or energy, their fate in production and consumption, and the ensuing discharge of wastes and emissions. This approach has been successful in bridging social and natural sciences in inter- and transdisciplinary analyses of society-nature interactions. It has yielded important insights into eco-efficiency and long-term drivers of resource use. However, socio-metabolic research has not yet fully incorporated material stocks or their services, hence not fully exploiting the analytic power of the metabolism concept. We will present a quantification of the global accumulation of material stocks in the last century based on an input-driven modelling approach that combines data on material flows with data on the average lifetimes of stock-building materials. We show that the mass of global socioeconomic material stocks now amounts to 800 Pg, almost as much as the mass of all plants on the earth’s lands ( 900 Pg). During the last century, material stocks were highly correlated to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), suggesting the pivotal role of material stocks for enabling economic activity. The fraction of the global socioeconomic material inflows added to stocks each year has risen from 20 to over 50%, implying the emergence of global “stockpiling” societies. A regionalization of the data to 10 world regions reveals huge inequalities in terms of per-capita stocks. Based on the empirical findings of several studies to quantify material stocks as well as conceptual considerations on the stock-flow-service nexus, we will discuss the relevance of these stocks for sustainability transformations. For example, material stocks result in situations of lock-in and path-dependencies by providing incentives for resource-intensive ways of providing essential services to society, such as shelter, mobility, hygiene, food or others. Spatial patterns of stocks play a decisive role in that context. For example, spatial patterns of residential areas and the places of production can require long commutes. Roads incentivize car use whereas public transport infrastructures may support less resource-demanding mobility. Overall, we argue that analyzing the interrelations between stocks, flows and services will allow researchers to develop highly innovative indicators of eco-efficiency and society-nature interaction and will open new research directions for understanding of the biophysical foundations of
sustainability transformations.


The Marshall Plan and its socio-ecological side effects. Conceptual and case based considerations

Authors: Robert Groß (University of Innsbruck and Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna) & Dominik Wiedenhofer (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

The European Recovery Program (ERP), also known as Marshall Plan has been studied over decades from perspectives of economic-, social- and cultural history, or as a program that emphasized the shift in U.S.-foreign policies and catalyzed the Cold War. However, scholars overlooked one aspect of the ERP so far, that is the biophysical impact the program had on the environment. In our paper we propose three different starting points for such a research. Firstly, taking stock of models provided by earth system science, we can observe that the post-WWII shift in human-nature relations that has been described as the “Great Acceleration” took off in parallel to the massive shipping of raw materials, fuel, machinery and technical expertise worth US $ 13 billion into 16 war-damaged European nations. Secondly, the outlet of the ERP forced European nations to organize themselves in novel transnational institutions e.g. OEEC and UNECE, whose aim was not only to coordinate the reconstruction of war-damaged provisioning systems but also the transformation of mobility and energy infrastructure according to the U.S. model of a “fossil democracy”. The latter translated, thirdly, into production practices by obliging receiving governments to install a system of counterpart-funds providing incentives for efficiency increases in industries that either produced exportable consumer goods, or extracted exportable resources including energy.
Considering these three levels, we suggest that by means of the ERP provisioning system boundaries were scaled up by material infrastructure. Based on the analysis of original material from the National Archives in Washington DC, we will discuss how this built an important cornerstone of a novel dynamic in Western Europe that has later been termed the “Great Acceleration”.


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A local to global perspective on resource governance and conflict

Chair: Anne Hennings (University of Muenster)

Session description

In contrast to promised development and employment opportunities, the capitalisation of land and natural resources more often contributes to increased inequality, generates instability, and challenges societal-nature relations. The aim of this special session is to advance our understanding of the linkages between natural resource governance and conflict. We develop an analytical local to global framework and bring together three different strands of literature, namely; (1) the resource curse, (2) environmental security, and (3) large-scale acquisitions of land and natural resources. The concrete interplay between actors of resource governance and conflict across different scales largely remains a background note in the literature and its complexity therefore underexplored. On the one hand, studies in the fields of environmental security and the resource curse tend to focus on global processes, such as climate change or global demands for oil and their impacts on the national level while neglecting local resource governance and conflict realities. For instance, the state does often not present itself as a homogenous agent on the local level of resource governance. Instead, a variety of state (and customary) actors at different scales determine and implement a broad spectrum of formal and informal governance practices. On the other hand, most studies of the land grabbing literature focus on the local level of resource conflict, in particular on contesting communities, while often neglecting how these relate to political and economic processes on national and global level. The result is a significant gap in the field of natural resource governance and conflict across scales which negatively impacts the formulation of strategies to remedy natural resource related conflicts. The special session addresses this gap by drawing on case studies in Southeast Asia, East and West Africa. The paper givers present conflicts and transformations emerging from agricultural plantations, oil, wind and diamond extraction and reflect on policy implications thereof. All presented papers are part of a special issue called “A local to global perspective on resource governance and conflict” due to be published in Conflict, Security and Development in November 2018.


A local to global perspective on resource governance and conflict

Authors: Janpeter Schilling (Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate/University of Koblenz-Landau), Christina Saulich (University of Applied Sciences Berlin) & Nina Engwicht (Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate/University of Koblenz-Landau)

This article advances the debate on natural resource governance and conflict by bringing together three different strands of literature with the aim of developing a local to global research perspective and framework for analysis. First, this article reviews and identifies research gaps in the literatures on (1) the resource curse, (2) environmental security and (3) the large-scale acquisition of land and natural resources. Second, it addresses the previously identified research gaps by developing a local to global research perspective and a corresponding analytical framework. The final section of this contribution summarises the key findings of the articles presented in the special issue and outlines their policy implications.

The Local Translation of Global Norms: The Sierra Leonean Diamond Market

Author: Nina Engwicht (Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate/University of Koblenz-Landau)

Shortcomings in natural resource governance leading to economic mismanagement, political clientelism, underdevelopment and civil conflict, have caused an increase in global norms of ‘good governance’ of natural resource sectors. As a result, a growing number of global governance initiatives are targeting conflict-prone natural resource sectors. Whether these regulatory efforts stand a chance of being successful depends on their implementation in producer countries. As the transnational regulatory framework aimed at curbing the trade in conflict minerals is expanding, this article investigates the local translation of global norms of resource governance. Drawing on the ‘local-to-global’ research perspective developed in this special issue and norm diffusion theories, the article examines one of the most prominent cases of governance reform targeting conflict affected natural resource sectors: The Sierra Leonean diamond market. Based on extensive field research, the article analyses the implementation of KPCS requirements on the national and subnational level of governance institutions. It evaluates the accomplishments, the challenges and the local adaption to and (formal and informal) interpretation of KPCS norms.

Plantation assemblages and spaces of contested development in Sierra Leone and Cambodia

Author: Anne Hennings (University of Muenster)

Much has been written on land deals, their impact, and challenges of contestation in the Global South. Multiple studies show that communities are high-spirited as long as they oppose the actual conversion of their land. My findings illustrate how companies, local authorities, communities, civil society, and the government mitigate conflicts, re-shape resource governance, and negotiate terms of development in operating plantations and local-global dynamics thereof. Drawing on extended ethnographic research in Cambodia and Sierra Leone between 2016 and 2018, I examine two plantation assemblages linked in time and across space. Although run by the same company, the different set-ups and socio-political contexts have a bearing on community resistance. Based on Nail’s assemblage framework, I start out by defining the territorial assemblages prior to the companies’ arrival. Next, I illustrate the emerging plantation assemblages’ statist and capitalist features with emphasis on the repercussions of monitoring and patronisation dynamics on the communities’ dependency and leverage. Thirdly, I highlight the resulting differences in the communities’ struggles and the potential of emerging alliances, before concluding and reflecting on policy implications.

A local to global perspective on oil and wind exploitation, resource governance and conflict in northern Kenya

Authors: Janpeter Schilling (Peace Academy Rhineland-Palatinate/University of Koblenz-Landau), Raphael Locham (Danish Demining Group, Kenya) & Jürgen Scheffran (University of Hamburg)

In north-western Kenya, significant oil reserves have been discovered and production is about to start. On the east side of Lake Turkana, the largest wind power project on the African continent was completed in June 2017. This paper applies a local to global perspective to explore the benefits and externalities for the local communities living in close proximity to the oil and wind exploitation sites. A particular focus is placed on governance of energy resources, water and employment opportunities and its impacts on new and existing conflict dynamics. The paper is based on extensive field research conducted in 2016 and 2017. Results suggest that similarities between oil and wind exploitation can be identified in terms of unmet promises of compensation for land and community expectations for employment which cause conflict between the operating companies and the local communities. Differences exist with respect to externalities such as environmental pollution which are expected to be higher for the production of oil than for wind energy.


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Frontier spaces: Discussing new forms of territorialization, resource control and social imaginaries

Chair: Michael Klingler (University of Innsbruck) 

Session Description

Frontiers pop up across the globe. From Frederick Turner’s description of the American West as a wilderness to be colonized to more recent territorialization perspectives of resource control, the concept of frontier is discussed consistently. Especially resource relationships negotiated under the signs of the neoliberalisation of nature have greatly coined the image of the frontier. Despite the ongoing advances in the field of environmental governance, the capitalist valorisation of the resource frontier is still driven by occupation, extraction and commodification of ‘free’ land and natural resources – frequently framed by conflict and violent accumulation. Yet, it is increasingly contextualized as an arena for alternative dynamics that connects the presumably inexhaustible resource pool with new discourses and imaginaries. In this way, the frontier myth has begun to oscillate between modernist ideas of resource extraction and modes of protection according to sustainability as a new development paradigm.
The objective of this special session is to present new approaches to the concept of frontier, to highlight critical aspects of current discussions and to integrate empirical findings.


Sustainability as a new paradigm in telecoupled systems of (post-) frontier spaces

Authors: Heiko Faust & Yvonne Kunz (Department of Human Geography, University of Göttingen)

Current debates on the negative impacts of climate change have led to an increased demand for sustainable commodities. Serving this demand, sustainability certification schemes and eco-friendly labels become prominent mechanisms of environmental governance in (post-) frontier spaces. Smallholder farmers in Jambi province, Indonesia, dominantly producing palm oil and rubber, are strongly affected by this distant telecoupled demand. Following Zimmerer et al (20181) we analyze the scope and implementation of sustainability criteria by applying a multilevel telecoupling framework for two case studies. Our first case reveals that smallholder certification for so called sustainable palm oil does not necessarily influence smallholder management practices. One explanation might be a discrepancy in sustainability perception between sender and receiver systems. The second case is the set up of an allegedly eco-friendly rubber plantation by various companies and the involvement of nature conservation organizations, affecting access to land for adjacent smallholders. The concept of sustainability as demanded by the receiving system (i.e. Europe) does not seem to mirror management practices in the sending system (Indonesia), even though the products reach the Global North as supposedly socially and climate friendly. We argue that within this smallholder telecoupling framework the sustainability paradigm creates new arenas of conflictive spillovers, transforming perceptions of resource use and control, hence reshaping the frontier.


Armed and Dangerous: A Mugshot of the Frontier in the Global South

Author: Daniel Geiger (Department of Ethnology, University of Lucerne) 

Frontiers are strategically significant or economically promising areas remote from political centres that are contested by resident indigenous peoples and actors structurally connected to the nationstate. As resource-rich out-of-the-way-places attracting non-residents, we find them in the developing world and also in post-industrial countries of the North. Far from being the wellspring of civic virtues and democracy, as the concept’s best-known proponent had it, the frontier stands for continuous and often violent ethnic and environmental conflict, precipitates “resource curses” and either threatens – where it exists – democratic governance or impedes the prospects of democratic transitions. Based on fieldwork in Southeast Asia and a broad survey of social science literature on comparative frontiers elsewhere in the Global South, I introduce what I take to be their eight generic properties and the three major forms in which they come. An account of the state’s strategic interests and the policies it pursues at its frontier periphery rounds off my sketch of this remarkably resilient feature of present-day human territoriality.


Coloniality of ‘frontier’ concepts

Author: Martina Neuburger (University of Hamburg)

The ‘frontier’ concept was a very powerful approach in politics, society and science with changing meanings in specific historical and regional contexts. While frontier concepts of the early 20th century were based on the construction of natural spaces with unused or underused natural resources newer approaches integrated critical perspectives. However, colonial ideas in the construction of ‘free’ land remain in these studies. In the presentation I will give a critical overview of these historical studies and more recent works with a focus on literature about South American ‘frontiers’ and will develop an alternative approach with the idea of territorialities and their dynamics by conceptualising the frontier as area of very dynamic de-territorialisation and re-territorialisation processes and of spaces of multiterritoriality.


Lessons learnt from a transdisciplinary collaborative project on extractive and agricultural commodity frontiers in Latin America

Authors: Cristina de la Vega-Leinert (Geography and Geology Institute, Greifswald University) & Regine Schönenberg (Institute for Latin American Studies, Free University Berlin)

Extractive and agricultural commodity frontiers in Latin America are a core topic of a number of scientific disciplines, which investigate sustainability transitions to improve human well-being while respecting planetary boundaries. In this endeavour Land Use Science plays a prominent role, since it has proven to be a powerful approach to detect, explain and compare land use and cover transformations, and model their potential socio-ecological impacts spatially and over nested scales.
This discipline has rapidly gained weight at the science-policy interface. However, it often produces policy recommendations that are primarily based on top-down, natural science-based quantitative approaches. It therefore fails to incorporate key insights from a number of social science perspectives, which have a long tradition of addressing the societal root causes, processes and implications of land-use change. To address this gap, we launched a collaborative project, to reflect upon, discuss and perform cross-fertilisation between disciplines in an on-going special issue of the Journal of Land Use Science. Our aim is to analyse current socio-ecological, economic, political-administrative and cultural transformations at extractive and agricultural commodity frontiers in Latin America.
We focus here on agricultural commodity frontiers, which can be defined as areas, where commercial / export agriculture expand over natural, often ecologically rich regions that are economically marginalised and still primarily devoted to subsistence activities. Agricultural commodities include a wide spectrum of productive activities ranging from large-scale, agroindustrial systems (e.g. soybean, oil palm, cattle ranching), small-scale, high quality agro-forestry crops (e.g. organic coffee, spices) to non-timber forest products (e.g. açai). They have in common the general aim of producing goods for remote markets to generate income, goods which have little or no market, locally.
With our presentation, summarising preliminary insights from this collaborative project, we intend to contribute to the debate of new approaches of the concept of frontier by identifying commonalities emerging from the diversity of agricultural commodity frontiers in Latin America.

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Labour and Social-Ecological Transformation

Chairs: Oliver Pye (Bonn University) and Stefania Barca (University of Coimbra)

Session description

This session explores the dialectical relation between labour and social-ecological transformation. Labour as the process of social metabolism with nature is central for our understanding of the social relations of nature and their transformation. Within capitalism however, labour is an alienated process, driven by blind competition and the accumulation imperative. This leads to a contradictory role of labour vis-à-vis nature. The issues of jobs and livelihoods are often counterposed to ecological demands, suggesting that there is an unbridgeable gap between the labour and environmental justice movements. Other examples, in contrast, show that when labour adopts a strategy of de-alienation, it can become an important ally for environmental justice movements. The session aims to discuss this tension between alienation and de-alienation as a central political dimension of class struggle and argues that a serious discussion of labour is indispensable for any radical strategy of social-ecological transformation.


Miners against Hambi? Labour and Climate Justice in Germany

Author: Oliver Pye (Bonn University)

The tree house builders and their supporters in the Hambacher Forest in Germany lead a fight that has become one of the front-line struggles against the coal industry and for climate justice. Thousands of activists have engaged in tactics of civil disobedience that have temporarily halted the clearing of the forest and have put the issue of overcoming coal-based power generation on the political agenda. But the movement suffers from one serious weakness: the lack of support from the labour movement for a social-ecological transformation of the coal industry. Indeed, organized labour – in particular the miners and energy workers union Industrie Gewerkschaft Bergbau, Chemie und Energie (IGBCE) – has organized demonstrations for the coal industry and has denigrated the Hambacher activists as violent troublemakers. This paper seeks to explain this anti-ecological position as resulting from both the underlying problem of labour alienation within capitalism and from the political development of the IGBCE union. It then asks what lessons can be learnt in order to develop systematic alliances between the environmental justice movement and the labour movement for a social-ecological transformation of society.


Rethinking the “just” in Just Transition. Lessons from Amazonia

Author: Stefania Barca (University of Coimbra)

Mainstream versions of JT tend towards an excessive ‘realism’, i.e. they eschew from engaging with boldly transformative programs. This is due to various factors, among which there are the unresolved contradictions between the Sustainable Development goals of economic growth and climate action, as well as the implicit acceptance, in most labour organizations, of the absolute priority of economic growth over any other development goal, social or environmental. This acceptance rests upon the unquestioned assumption that GDP growth forms the main condition of possibility for the creation of wealth and, consequently, an unescapable companion to the implementation of green policies. My hypothesis is that framing climate action as subordinate to the economic growth imperative has a paralyzing effect upon the envisioning and
implementation of a more effective JT strategy. The latter could benefit from mobilizing a more boldly utopian praxis, such as those carried forth by radical labor movements such as La Via Campesina or Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, which are constituting a converging bloc with climate justice and eco-feminist movements. Based on the historical experience of the agroforestry conservation units (RESEX) of the Brazilian Amazon, this presentation will offer a reflection on the possibilities and constraints embedded in radical labour environmentalism.


Class and environmentalism in the UK: Trade unions in the energy sector

Author: Halliki Kreinin (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

Trade unions, as the bastions of worker rights in the class struggle, have historically fought for workers in the societal realm. However, workers movements have a more complicated relationship to environmental issues. The middle-class British environmental movement, from its very inception during the Industrial Revolution on the other hand, has always had a class problem. In a country as hierarchical and class-based as the UK, is there scope for worker-environmentalist solidarity for a social-ecological transformation, a ‘Just Transition’ to sustainability? The current politically fraught situation of trade unions in the UK, including a declining and aging membership, provides an undercurrent of urgency to the topic. How do trade unions officials in the UK negotiate the difficult challenge of squaring the short-term immediate aims of their members with the long-term aim of broad socio-ecological development – including social welfare and a habitable environment?

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Political ecology of lithium. Between e-mobility and social-ecological conflicts

Fernando Ruiz Peyré & Felix Dorn (University of Innsbruck)

Session description

Lithium is gaining importance in the global economy: Lithium is the lightest metal on earth and provides excellent energetic storage capacities. Thus, it is used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. While especially the microelectronics industry triggered the growth of lithium consumption in the past two decades, lithium now plays a key role both for new technologies such as electromobility as well as in the context of an energy transition towards renewable energy solutions. Consequently, lithium is commonly considered a strategic resource for the 21st century and often referred to as "white gold".
The Latin American lithium triangle is considered the world's most important lithium deposit. The three countries of the triangle (Argentina, Bolivia and Chile) use different strategies to take advantage of the resource. While Argentina and Chile rely on private investors, Bolivia is trying to keep production in national hands. Although lithium mining has the reputation for being sort of a soft mining, it causes concern in many respects: Lithium is extracted in very peripheral areas of the Andean high plateau. As these areas are characterized by extremely low precipitation regimes, the water demand for lithium extraction poses a major challenge. In many cases, the predominantly indigenous population remains excluded from this development process or finds itself in a field of tension between lithium mining and traditional economic activities. While national governments hope for future economic growth and try to promote industrialization processes, social-ecological conflicts and resistance are growing at the local level.
In this session, we aim to illustrate and explore the dynamics, driving forces, contradictions and perspectives of lithium from the mine to the end use.


Contested Lithiumscapes in South America. Nature, control and power in the Lithium-Triangle

Authors: Fernando Ruiz Peyré and Felix Dorn (University of Innsbruck)

Mining is deeply changing social, economic and territorial structures in the so-called lithium triangle, consisting of Northwest Argentina, Northern Chile and Southwest Bolivia. In this paper, inspired by the concepts of Waterscape by Swyngedouw (1999) and Resourcescapes by Coy/Ruiz Peyré/Obermayr (2017), we propose the concept of Lithiumscapes that aims at
a better comprehension of the multidimensional and often contradictory character of these natural resources. Using a holistic view, we address central concerns in political ecology research, such as access and control over natural resources, involved actors and power relations. At the same time, we challenge the hegemonic technocratic and economic views over lithium mining and energy transitions, to find possible paths for a social-ecological transformation towards sustainability. Only a comprehensive perspective will enable the recognition of advantages and disadvantages for all involved actors.


Contested natures: Cultural valuations of nature, environmental practices and salar mining in the Puna de Atacama (northwestern Argentina)

Author: Barbara Göbel (Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut Berlin)

The objective of the paper is to analyze the co-existence – partial transformation, overlapping and displacement – of divergent environmental notions and practices in the Puna de Atacama, a high altitude desert, of northwestern Argentina. In the last couple of years conflicts and disputes between local communities, private enterprises and the State on natural resources, territorial control and valuation logics have deepened This is related to an increasing commodification of nature. One driving force is the growth of international tourism in the Puna de Atacama, exploiting the aesthetic of a pristine and exotic landscape. On the other hand, the commodification of nature has been triggered by dynamic, unprecedented expansion of mining in the salt lakes of the region. In particular the lithium boom fostered by green technologies in the Global North has opened new arenas of negotiation for the local population. Although the paper focusses on the perspective of atacameño people, the interdependencies between the local, the national and the transnational dimension will be taken into account.


Towards a global political ecology of lithium

Authors: Morgan Scoville-Simonds, Jonas Köppel & Marc Hufty (Centre for International Environment Studies, Geneva)

Lithium is increasingly portrayed as a key resource for a socio-technical transition towards a low-carbon future. This paper intends to draw critical light on the global turn towards lithium by considering the metal as the center of a nexus of shifting social, political, and material relationships.
Transitioning to the use of lithium-based energy storage is portrayed as a relatively painless path toward low-carbon, green, clean and ultramodern transportation. Yet the promised decarbonization, dematerialization, and enhanced sustainability of the world economy to be
achieved through lithium deserves further scrutiny. We argue that the global turn to lithium necessarily implies shifting global energetic-material-political entanglements, reshaping relationships between peoples and places in ways that have only begun to be examined. Specifically, we argue that critical analyses of lithium can render visible what are otherwise obscured material and political articulations in the functioning of the global political ecology, such as the alienation of consumption from extraction, production and waste.
Due to the multiple relationalities in which lithium is imbricated, the material thus provides an ideal field of study for diverse disciplinary and transdisciplinary research. We propose a number of potential critical lenses to be brought to bear on lithium and its multiplex relations, from multi-sited ethnography (re)connecting the sites of production and consumption to analyses of the shifting role of lithium in the capitalist world metabolism.

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