DSA2016: Politics in Development
Analysing power and politics is fundamental to analyses of governance and livelihoods in environment, natural resource and climate change contexts. The panel draws on a range of analytical approaches and situations to investigate how power and politics influence decision-making and livelihoods.
The 2016 DSA Conference marks the re-establishment of a study group on environment, natural resources and climate change. Separate environment and climate change study groups have existed in the past in the DSA, but it's been some years since these groups were active and so we've brought environment, climate change and renewable natural resources together into one group. We welcome new and existing members to propose papers for our panel sessions on the politics of environment and natural resource governance and livelihoods.
Analysing power and politics is fundamental to analyses of governance and livelihoods in environment, natural resource and climate change contexts. The panel welcomes paper proposals that draw on a range of analytical approaches and situations to investigate how power and politics influence decision-making, and allocation of, and access to, resources, with implications for livelihoods, wider development and the status of the environment and natural resources. Such approaches might include political ecology, institutional analysis, analysis of power and gendered relations and analysis of social movements.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
"Not all land is the same": how land deals are changing access to natural resources and local practices in Mozambique
This paper will examine how farmland investments are changing access to natural resources, climate resilience strategies and livelihoods in Mozambique. It draws on qualitative fieldwork conducted in the country in 2015 and adopts the conceptual approach of environmental justice.
The "Green Revolution" narrative has been portraying Africa as a "sleeping giant" with vast underused arable land. Triggered by climate change, the 2007-2008 food price crisis and economic recession, large-scale acquisitions rose sharply over the last decade. Mozambique is amongst the top targets. Whereas legislation recognises land rights to rural communities, their effective access to productive areas has been a matter of concern for non-governmental organisations as well as academics.
This paper explores how agribusiness deals are influencing access to land and natural resources in Northern Mozambique. Drawing on concepts from environmental justice, I analyse how the misrecognition of local land uses influences the outcomes of participation processes and, ultimately, land distribution. This novel framework contributes to agrarian studies by further developing a local-based understanding of the dynamics behind land deals.
Through semi-structured interviews, I observe that both peasants and companies question the justice of each other's land use strategies. Agribusiness managers dismiss local practices as a waste of land. Local populations formally accept land deals expecting jobs and material benefits. But the terms of this acceptance are not set in stone. They also depend on whether the company occupies the land in a way deemed appropriate and just.
In the end, this dynamic struggle for recognition will influence the landscape, local practices and livelihoods. It may even constrain local resilience strategies - peasants had distributed the location of their plots in order to maximise access to the river, whilst minimising the risk of losing crops to floods.
Measuring the role of governance in environmental upgrading: the case of Kenyan horticulture farmers
Environmental upgrading is intrinsically linked to the ability of Kenyan fruit-vegetable farmers to participate in global production networks and hence their livelihoods. The paper studies the extent to which power and politics of stakeholders affect farmers’ decisions to environmentally upgrade
Upgrading is critical for farmers to participate in global production network (GPNs) as it permits upskilling and building greater value addition thus creating positive developmental outcomes. While significant research has been conducted on economic and social upgrading, relatively little attention has been directed towards environmental upgrading. Environmental upgrading has generally been examined as an outcome of the power and politics of lead firms i.e. systemic pressures that emanate from different forms of buyer driven governance in GPNs; and has not integrated aspects of climate variability and shocks, which also directly impact the ability of farmer to participate in GPNs and thus their livelihoods. This research endeavours to advance the concept of environmental upgrading in GPNs and assess the extent to which power of lead firms and the politics of standards affect farmers' decisions to environmentally upgrade. The paper will draw on the case of Kenyan fresh fruit and vegetable farmers supplying into different global, regional and local end markets. It draws on a comparative case study of 579 farmers collected in Kenya in 2015. It assesses the comparative 'extents' and 'implications' of governance on different levels of environmental upgrading across farmers supplying different end markets. The study elicits different threshold levels of environmental upgrading for farmers and finds that environmental upgrading varies significantly depending different governance structures in different end markets. This research has the potential to identify leverage points for policy makers in global, regional and local production networks, which will enable building more sustainable GPNs and livelihoods.
The political economy of small-scale fisheries and the growth of aquaculture on Lake Victoria: emerging limitations to sustainable and inclusive development
This article examines the effects of national, regional and international fisheries development strategies on natural resource use and re-distributional dynamics in the Lake Victoria basin (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) in the context of rapid aquaculture growth.
Rapid aquaculture growth on Lake Victoria since the early 2000s is promising significant exports earnings from fisheries for Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, despite declining wild fish stocks. Worldwide, aquaculture is promoted as a pathway to improve food security and alleviate poverty, but large-scale commercial development has frequently created conflicts between corporate investors and fisherfolks over access to water, land and fishing grounds. Lake Victoria's small-scale fisheries are characterized by high inequality in access to fisheries resources and growing social-ecological pressures, which may be intensified through aquaculture. Open-access policies in the riparian states prevent the privatization of fishing grounds, but cage-aquaculture requires exclusive use rights to highly-productive lake areas. This article examines the effects of national, regional and international fisheries development strategies on natural resource use and re-distributional dynamics. Based on an analysis of the three countries' national and regional policies and the emerging global agenda for Rights-Based Fisheries (RBF), as well as first results of the author's on-going field work in the lake basin, it is argued that the current policy focus on exclusive use rights and overall productivity increases will fail to yield sustainable and inclusive results in the region's aquaculture sector. Effective regulation of FDI is needed to ensure that RBF incentivizes environmentally responsible behavior among corporate tenure rights holders, while the likely exclusion of large numbers of small-scale fishers may create poverty-driven social-ecological traps and worsen overexploitation. Research methods include a face-to-face tablet-based survey with small-scale fishers and fish-workers (1500 interviews) and policy and institutional analysis.
Advocating for change? How a civil society-led coalition influences the implementation of the forest rights act in India
Civil society organizations (CSOs) often federate into civil society-led coalitions (CSCs) in order to shape forest policy implementation. We develop a framework to analyze CSC strategy choices and apply this to the CSC attempting to influence the Forest Rights Act implementation in India.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) often federate into civil society-led coalitions (CSCs) in order to shape forest policies. They appear to be successful during the policy design phase but we know little about whether they are successful in influencing policies during the implementation phase. This paper analyzes the strategy choices and potential impact during policy implementation of a loose CSC comprised of CSOs, activists, researchers etc. that advocates for the full implementation of the Forest Rights Act in India. Drawing from the Advocacy Coalition Framework's focus on belief systems, and insights from political ecology and social movements literature, we develop a framework to analyze CSC strategy choices. Our analysis is conducted at the national level and in two states, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. We employ qualitative research methods, including 38 interviews with CSC and non-CSC members, and a comprehensive analysis of the main CSC listserv and 1000 relevant English language newspaper articles. Our study reveals that the CSC employs a range of conflictive and collaborative strategies at both national and state levels. It draws on a loose, heterogeneous network with ability to connect internally and a clear moral justification of its involvement in FRA implementation. However the diverse range of views on the implementation issues held by CSC members, lack of dedicated funding for coordination, limited legitimacy in the eyes of some state actors and a constricting wider institutional setting, impedes the CSC's ability to make coalition-level strategy decisions and therefore their impact on the policy implementation process is limited.
Pipeline projects and rural politics: examining rural reactions to Kenya's LAPSSET corridor
It is often assumed that peasants resist or reject large-scale land deals. Yet peasants in Kenya are reacting to the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor in diverse ways. Analysing their reactions reveals that identity influences whether groups reject, resist, or seek incorporation in land deals.
The Lamu Port—South Sudan—Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor in Kenya will include the world's longest heated pipeline once construction is complete. This mega-infrastructure project will eventually transport crude oil from northern Kenya to a refinery on its coast, and is meant to increase Kenya's energy exports and incorporate its remote northern regions into the national economy. Spanning over 2,000 km, LAPSSET will bisect myriad rural land uses, including community conservancies, national protected areas, pastoralist group ranches, and small-scale farms, with implications for corresponding livelihoods and ecologies. Accordingly, the goal of this paper is to analyse how different groups of rural land users are reacting to LAPSSET, and why they are reacting in the ways that they do. While conventional scholarship on rural social movements claims that peasant groups almost always resist or reject large-scale land deals, analysing rural reactions to LAPSSET reveals the complex, variegated nature of peasant agency. For example, while groups such as pastoralists are rejecting LAPSSET, others such as small-scale farmers are seeking incorporation in land deals. This paper ultimately argues that identity - along with belief, knowledge, and value systems - not only influences whether groups reject, resist, or accept large-scale land deals, but that it is also shaped by reactions to such developments. The analysis in this paper is based on nine months of fieldwork carried out in Kenya between 2014 and 2016.
How does corporate social responsibility affect national politics? The case of mining in Ghana, Peru and Zambia.
This paper examines the national politics of mining and corporate social responsibility in Ghana, Peru and Zambia using a political settlements framework.
This paper examines the national politics of mining and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Zambia, Ghana and Peru. The paper draws on research conducted as part of 3-year British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship looking at the role of international standards in mining company behaviour in developing countries. It begins by outlining political settlements theory, focussing on elite bargaining and the drivers of political stability. The paper then uses this conceptual framework to explore the ways in which CSR and the behaviour of mining companies affect national politics and natural resource governance in Ghana, Peru, and Zambia. Geographical and historical specificity are argued to be central to understanding the ways in which CSR affects political settlements in these countries, in particular the role of memory and the timing of resource booms. These are explored in each case study country to show the different meanings and functions CSR takes on in different regulatory contexts before examining how mining companies use CSR to attempt to minimise regulation and taxation burden, effectively aiming to produce enclave forms of extraction. Here, CSR is argued to be a useful window into the political activities of firms and an important part of how they engage in the national-level politics of host countries.
Chinese hydropower dams go global: a political ecology of the Asian drivers' perspective
This paper investigates China’s role as the world’s largest builder and investor of large dams, using a ‘political ecology of the Asian drivers’ perspective and drawing on case studies from Southeast Asia and West Africa.
Hydropower development is currently experiencing a global renaissance, led by Chinese dam-builders and financiers. Large dams are a key energy priority in many low and middle income countries around the globe and they are considered a means to increase energy access, achieve development goals and contribute to climate change mitigation. However large hydropower dam projects have devastating, irreversible environmental impacts and can also negatively impact people's livelihoods and lives by reducing access to local natural resources such as land, water and food, as well as involving involuntary resettlement. This paper investigates China's role as the world's largest builder and investor of large dams, using a 'political ecology of the Asian drivers' perspective. It addresses the role Chinese actors play in large dam-building as well as the social, environmental, economic and political implications by drawing on four selected case studies from Asia and Africa, namely the Kamchay dam in Cambodia, the Bakun dam in Malaysia, the Bui dam in Ghana and the Zamafara dam in Nigeria. The paper concludes first that while the role of Chinese dam builders and the power they have is important, the role of national host governments is often determining how large dams and their environmental and social impacts are being governed and managed, second, the paper indicates that the divergence between national priorities of energy production and local development needs can result in the unequal distribution of costs and benefits between the national and local scales, third, the paper makes recommendations for more sustainable hydropower development.
Making sense, making place: climate change narratives in rural Zambia
This paper examines the emergence of climate change narratives among government and local government staff in rural Zambia, and how they form part of broader sense- and place-making discourses and practices by local state actors.
As global governance agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement come increasingly to the fore in development, it seems increasingly important to understand how and to what extent such agendas play out in everyday local politics and practices.
This paper examines how the climate change agenda is internalized and appropriated by local state actors in rural Zambia. Drawing on research in two districts in southern Zambia, it first examines the narratives of climate change among staff in the district administration and local government, as well as their origins in NGO projects, central government policies and personal experiences.
The paper then discusses how these climate change narratives fit into and reinforce two dominant discourses about the study districts, namely (i) that they are plagued by vicious circles of poverty and scarcity, and (ii) that they are undeveloped hinterlands which must be opened up and made into a "better place". Climate change and associated interventions thereby contributes to sense-making rationales among government staff, and further a discourse on what "kind" of place the districts are, and what they must become.
Lastly, the paper examines how the climate change narratives are carried over into the actions of local state actors, including practices of assemblage and specific adaptation interventions. It is discussed how these actions often reflect pragmatic approaches to achieving the desired objectives.
The paper draws on the four-year research programme Climate Change and Rural Institutions. A previous paper from the programme was presented at DSA 2015, focusing on institutional competition over authority.
Greening like a state: Ethiopia's green economy as "high modernism"
The Ethiopian Climate Resilient Green Economy document, and its strategies of visual mapping of sectors, emissions and timelines, are analysed as an instance of High Modernism: the totalising but also depoliticising “aspiration to the administrative ordering of nature and society”.
The Ethiopian Governments' vision in its Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) document, to "achieve middle-income status by 2025 in a climate-resilient green economy" while limiting 2030 emissions to around today's level, has attracted favourable attention from donors and commentators on green growth. The plan to do this is based on four pillars - crops and livestock, forests, energy, transport - and 60 "initiatives" or "levers" that are cost-effective in terms of $/tonne emission avoided.
Besides untransparent analyses and costings, programme recommendations at an extreme level of generality, and an absence of engagement with well-known analyses of the Ethiopian livestock sector, especially but not solely the pastoral sub-sector, the document uses a dehumanized language where livestock keepers are undifferentiated and have no agency. The CRGE thus evokes Scott's (1998) idea of High Modernism: "the aspiration to the administrative ordering of nature and society… raised to a far more comprehensive and ambitious level". The paper explores the CRGE's emphasis on visual mapping of sectors, emissions, "levers", costs and timelines, as a contemporary transformation of the emphasis on geographical mapping in Scott's conception of High Modernism, as well as the tendency to "devalue or banish politics".
The paper provides a critique, based on close textual analysis, of the CRGE document and its livestock appendix to present a note of caution about GE processes becoming technocratic and ungrounded in the reality of citizens: "high-modernist designs for life and production tend to diminish the skills, agility, initiative and morale of the intended beneficiaries."
Analysing the multi-level landscape of renewable natural resources governance: a framework
The paper presents a framework developed to analyse the multi-level landscape of renewable natural resource governance, through analysis of the multiple levels and types of actors, vertical and horizontal interactions and nature and performance of governance.
Many renewable natural resources cross administrative boundaries and/or fall within the remit of multiple levels and sectors of governance. This raises challenges for effective governance as there may be limited interaction and coordination within and between levels of governance. The landscape of multi-level governance may be poorly understood and appreciated, with fragmented governance leading to missed opportunities for coordination, conflicting management objectives and approaches, and degraded resources.
This paper presents a framework that enables analysis of the multi-level governance landscape by raising key questions in three areas: multiplicity of levels and types of actors; vertical and horizontal interactions; and, principles of governance. The framework enables the landscape of multi-level governance to be mapped, opportunities for greater coordination and cooperation identified and challenges recognized. Such challenges may include the 'silo mentality' of sectors and government departments and power struggles and competing interests within and between levels.
Analysis of the multi-level landscape of the governance of mangrove forests in Kenya and Zanzibar illustrates how the framework can generate a comprehensive understanding of the diversity of sectors and actors that influence the governance of renewable natural resources. The analysis draws on fieldwork undertaken as part of the Coastal Ecosystems Services in East Africa project, funded by the NERC/ESRC/DFID Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme in 2015 and 2016.
The politics of impact assessment in framing community 'development' in extractive projects
This paper provides an illustration of the way in which impact assessment instruments create a bias that marginalises alternate, local, and indigenous ways of knowing and allow extractive projects to be undertaken uncritically in support of Mozambique’s dominant neoliberal development agenda.
This paper takes a political ecology approach to show how a dominant and depoliticised framing of 'development' contributes to the involuntary relocation of communities in Northern Mozambique. Africa's potentially largest natural gas discoveries in the Rovuma Basin present a unique opportunity for economic growth and reduction of aid dependency for Mozambique.
Based on a document analysis of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Rovuma Basin Liquefied Gas project, I discuss the challenges arising from implementing international impact assessment methodologies to the local cultural, ontological, and developmental context. By presenting a particular framing of underdevelopment and development, the impact assessment creates a bias where local communities are portrayed as 'underdeveloped' while the project offers them 'development'.
Scholars suggest that impact assessment methodologies and quantitative indicators grounded on a positivist epistemology tend to favour the interests of developers and the state. Quantification shifts the focus to more easily measurable objectives, such as economic and employment growth, but fails to engage with the complexities of social issues, such as wellbeing, vulnerability, and subjective and cultural meanings.
This paper provides an illustration of the way in which a dominating notion of 'development' as an excessively technical paradigm marginalises alternate, local, and indigenous ways of knowing and allows extractive projects to be undertaken uncritically in support of Mozambique's dominant neoliberal development agenda.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.