Violence against land defenders

There is important new work on the violence against land defenders worth reading over the summer. Here is a recent article in Global Environmental Change and a write up in The Ecologist with some background to it.

It is not easy reading; nor should it be owing to the continued violence against land defenders, many of whom are Indigenous peoples. Of course, land defenders face challenges on a variety of fronts and this new book on Berta Cáceres does a very good job of positioning land struggles in a broader context. Here is the blurb from the publisher:

Who Killed Berta Cáceres? Dams, Death Squads, and an Indigenous Defender’s Battle for the Planet


The first time Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres met the journalist Nina Lakhani, Cáceres said, ‘The army has an assassination list with my name at the top. I want to live, but in this country there is total impunity. When they want to kill me, they will do it.’ In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Prize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award, for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded hydroelectric dam on a river sacred to her Lenca people. Less than a year later she was dead.

Lakhani tracked Cáceres remarkable career, in which the defender doggedly pursued her work in the face of years of threats and while friends and colleagues in Honduras were exiled and killed defending basic rights. Lakhani herself endured intimidation and harassment as she investigated the murder. She was the only foreign journalist to attend the 2018 trial of Cáceres’s killers, where state security officials, employees of the dam company and hired hitmen were found guilty of murder. Many questions about who ordered and paid for the killing remain unanswered.

Drawing on more than a hundred interviews, confidential legal filings, and corporate documents unearthed after years of reporting in Honduras, Lakhani paints an intimate portrait of an extraordinary woman in a state beholden to corporate powers, organised crime, and the United States.


David Schlosberg: Climate Change, Non-humans, and Relational Impacts

New book on Water Justice

9781107179080This looks like quite a nice collection from Cambridge University Press.

Water Justice

Edited by Rutgerd Boelens, Tom Perreault, and Jeroen Vos

Book description

Water justice is becoming an ever-more pressing issue in times of increasing water-based inequalities and discrimination. Megacities, mining, forestry, industry and agribusiness claim an increasingly large share of available surface and groundwater reserves. Water grabbing and pollution generate poverty and endanger ecosystems’ sustainability. Beyond large, visible injustices, the book also unfolds the many ‘hidden’ water world injustices, subtly masked as ‘rational’, ‘equitable’ and ‘democratic’. It features critical conceptual approaches, including analysis of environmental, social, cultural and legal issues surrounding the distribution and management of water. Illustrated with case studies of historic and contemporary water injustices and contestations around the world, the book lays new ground for challenging current water governance forms and unequal power structures. It also provides inspiration for building alternative water realities. With contributions from renowned scholars, this is an indispensable book for students, researchers and policymakers interested in water governance, environmental policy and law, and political geography.


Advance praise:’This is a major book on the political ecology of water conflicts by the top experts in the field. It defines a new field of study, ‘water justice’. It’s a great addition to the study of local and global movements against environmental injustice with a focus on water-grabbing and unequal access to water for irrigation, mining, urban sanitation, and hydroelectricity.’

Joan Martinez-Alier – Emeritus Professor of Economics and Economic History, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Advance praise’Boelens, Perreault and Vos have assembled a genuinely impressive set of authors to tackle the nature, meaning, and drivers of water injustices across the world, and to explore the possibilities of water justice. While the picture is far from rosy, the book provides rich theoretical and empirical perspectives through which to understand the inequities surrounding the control and use of water and to imagine alternative futures. This text will be a point of reference for many years to come.’

Anthony Bebbington – Australian Laureate Fellow, University of Melbourne, and Milton P. and Alice C. Higgins Professor of Environment and Society, Clark University, Massachusetts

Advance praise:’This timely and engaging volume by some of the world’s foremost scholars on water constitutes a loud sound of alarm. Not only that, it shows why liberal and neoliberal water rationalities … won’t work. Proposed instead is a sophisticated approach to the question of water as nature, and of its relation to justice, from which emerges a powerful framework for alternative hydrosocialities. By reminding us that what is at stake … is people’s very right to exist, Water Justice enables us to imagine and construct other paths for fair and wise water policies.’

Arturo Escobar – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Advance praise:’It would be difficult to overstate the global significance of water injustice, which continues to be a major obstacle preventing millions of human beings from enjoying a dignified life. Water Justice addresses key aspects of this complex problem, bringing together a unique international team of scholars. This is not only a timely collection, but also one that provides access to rich theoretical arguments and empirical examples that allow an in-depth treatment of the topic. The book is a welcome contribution for academics, students, and practitioners, and will attract a wider readership among those concerned with the future of civilized human life.’

José Esteban Castro – Newcastle University

Advance praise:”Water justice!’ is the rallying cry of this book. It explores in a readable, illuminating and comprehensive way the multiple dimensions of water injustice and the diverse struggles to change these.’

Cristóbal Kay – International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Erik Swyngedouw: Urban water: urban environmental justice or POLITICAL ecology?

Interviews and proceedings from Hydro-Hegemony 6: transboundary water justice

The 6th Hydro-Hegemony conference was held last month. The proceedings are now available. Below is a summary from the website, and a set of interviews that can be found there as well.

Summary of the Sixth International Workshop on Hydro-Hegemony

The Sixth International Workshop on Hydro-Hegemony took place 12-13 January 2013, at UEA London. Over 100 researchers, practitioners and activists explored its theme: Transboundary Water Justice. With discussions enduring 10 hours each day – and then well into the night – we think a small step has been made towards investigating the merit of ‘justice‘ to serve transboundary water interaction, in both theory and practice.

While no agreement was reached (or expected), the healthy vigorous and respectful debate that was generated certainly pushed the limits of our collective knowledge. A number of novel ideas were explored – like ‘water sovereignty‘ (D’Souza) and ‘do I have the right to eat other people’s [virtual] water‘ (Greco) – while the favouring of efficiency over equitability in most political economies tested. While not everyone agreed what ‘justice‘ is or even that there is room for it in transboundary water interaction practice or analysis, there was consensus that transboundary water injustices are easy enough to spot – and all were motivated to act to address this.