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Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability


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Between science and activism: learning and teaching ecological economics with environmental justice organisations
Joan Martinez-Alier , Hali Healy , Leah Temper , Mariana Walter , Beatriz Rodriguez-Labajos , Julien-Franois Gerber & Marta Conde
a a a a a a a a

Institut de Ciencies i Tecnologies Ambientals, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Edifici C, Campus de la UAB, Bellaterra, 08193, Spain Available online: 08 Feb 2011

To cite this article: Joan Martinez-Alier, Hali Healy, Leah Temper, Mariana Walter, Beatriz Rodriguez-Labajos, Julien-Franois Gerber & Marta Conde (2011): Between science and activism: learning and teaching ecological economics with environmental justice organisations, Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 16:1, 17-36 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2010.544297

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Local Environment Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2011, 17 36

Between science and activism: learning and teaching ecological economics with environmental justice organisations
Joan Martinez-Alier, Hali Healy, Leah Temper, Mariana Walter, Beatriz RodriguezLabajos, Julien-Francois Gerber and Marta Conde
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Institut de Ciencies i Tecnologies Ambientals, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Edici C, Campus de la UAB, Bellaterra, 08193, Spain Activists are motivated by interests and values, making use only of the evidence that supports their arguments. They are not dispassionate as scientists are supposed to be. There is therefore something antithetical between science and activism. Nevertheless, environmental justice organisations (EJOs) have accumulated stocks of activist knowledge of great value to the eld of ecological economics, which sometimes becomes available to academics and inuences public policies. Vice versa, some concepts and methods from ecological economics are useful in practice to EJOs. In this paper, we use the knowledge built through the European Commission-funded projects Civil Society Engagement with Ecological Economics and Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade to understand the relations between academic theories such as ecological economics and political ecology and activist practice in EJOs. Some work by researchers in ecological economics and political ecology can be understood as activism-led science, while EJOs sometimes carry out science-led activism. A dialectic and dynamic relation drives the interactions between academics and practitioners focused on ecological distribution conicts. An interactive process exists between knowledge production and knowledge use, in which one furthers the other thanks to the relations built over time between scholars and practitioners. Keywords: activist knowledge; activist-led science; science-led activism; ecological debt; post-normal science

Introduction Andrew Stirling wrote in 2006 for the European Commission that there was a move towards an emerging paradigm of co-operative research. This is a new form of research process which involves both researchers and non-researchers in close co-operative engagement. It encompasses a full spectrum of approaches, frameworks and methods, from interdisciplinary collaboration through stakeholder negotiation to transdisciplinary deliberation and citizen participation (Stirling 2006). Support from the European Commission for worldwide cooperative or collaborative research with civil society organisations (CSOs) under the Science-in-Society programmes was a welcome novelty resting on Stirlings approach. However, the practice of cooperative or collaborative research is not new. Many academics work together regularly with business rms and with public

Corresponding author. Email: mariana.walter@uab.es

ISSN 1354-9839 print/ISSN 1469-6711 online # 2011 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2010.544297 http://www.informaworld.com

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administration and sometimes with non-governmental organisations. And vice versa, CSOs look for support from academics. For instance, the rst reports on the State of the Environment in India were put together in the 1980s by a CSO, the Centre for Science and the Environment (CSE), drawing on the knowledge of both activist organisations and academics across the sub-continent. Cooperative or collaborative research is closely related to participatory action research and to partnership research. This last term is used by Joanna Frankham, for whom research partners are all those people that as university researchers we might work with on the design, planning and conduct of a research project which concerns their lives and experiences. This partnership approach is appropriate where all participants (certied or lay researchers) agree at the beginning that they have much to learn from each other and want to work together in order to learn more. This applies exactly to the Civil Society Engagement with Ecological Economics (CEECEC) and Environmental Justice Organisations, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT) projects. Another term is action research (Reason and Bradbury 2001) or participatory action research, linked to Paulo Freires and Orlando Fals Bordas practice in Brazil and Colombia, respectively, well known to Latin American partners of CEECEC and EJOLT. Action research is an interactive inquiry process that is relevant to participants because it is geared to problem-solving in a collaborative context, with data provided by partners who might be academically qualied or not. The purpose is to understand underlying causes enabling the development of actions and policies to inuence change (Reason and Bradbury 2007). This article uses the case studies of two European projects of cooperative (or collaborative or partnership or participatory action) research in ecological economics between CSOs and academic partners to analyse examples of activist-led science and of science-led activism. The two projects (one running from 2008 to 2010 and one from 2011 to 2014) are reviewed in this article that analyses data obtained when carrying out or preparing both projects. Most CSOs involved are environmental justice organisations (EJOs). Though the acronym is new, the term itself comes from the US movements for environmental justice since the early 1980s and it has taken roots in other countries also (Bullard and Johnson 2000, Agyeman et al. 2004). The EJOs and the networks they form work towards addressing ecological distribution conicts at different scales, backing struggles against unfair resource extraction and waste disposal. This is a type of environmentalism different from wilderness conservationism. It is the environmentalism of the poor, meaning the defence of the environment to ensure the livelihood of those directly involved in ecological distribution conicts. The common thread in both projects is that activists can prot from the teachings of academic ecological economics and, moreover, that ecological economists can learn from concepts pushed by activist organisations (such as the ecological debt, food sovereignty, corporate accountability and economic degrowth). Ecological economics is seen as closely linked to political ecology. By political ecology we understand the study of ecological distribution conicts (Martinez-Alier 2002), while ecological economics is a transdisciplinary eld born in the 1980s (Costanza 1991, Costanza et al. 1996, Ropke 2004, Martinez-Alier and Ropke 2008, Spash 2009) out of a conuence of interests between ecologists who studied the use of energy in the human economy (Odum 1971, Jansson 1984) and dissident economists (Daly 1968, 1973) who followed Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen (1966, 1971) and Boulding (1966). Work by Kapp (1950) on social costs and by Kneese and Ayres (1969) on the pervasiveness of externalities was also inuential. Ecological economics views the economy as embedded in larger biophysical ecosystems. Areas of study include the social metabolism of societies, the

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development of physical indicators, the modelling of the interactions between economy and environment, the multiplicity of valuation languages deployed in the management of natural resources and environmental services, cost benet and multi-criteria evaluation methods and new institutions and policy instruments for improving sustainability. The FP7 CEECEC project (2008 2010) grew out of disatisfaction with the distance between academic ecological economics and activist knowledge and needs (Escobar 2008). Building upon the lessons from CEECEC, a larger project EJOLT was prepared in 2010 and will run between 2011 and 2014. CEECEC was focused on learning and teaching ecological economics with environmental activists, while EJOLT explicitly combines academic and activist knowledge, focusing on activism-led science. In this article, we analyse the origins and development of the CEECEC and EJOLT projects, showing how the academic partners met the EJOs over periods going back over 20 years in some cases, since empirical research on environmental conicts requires leaving the ivory tower and meeting the actors involved in the conicts on the ground, namely EJOs. We then review some core concepts relevant for EJOLT: ecological debt, the energy return on energy input (EROI) of agriculture and its use by Via Campesina, ecologically unequal exchange, corporate accountability and liability, post-normal science, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the poor and economic degrowth. Our analysis shows that the work of scholars and researchers in ecological economics may be seen sometimes as activism-led science, while the work of EJOs may be seen in some instances as scienceled activism. A dialectic and dynamic relation is present at the centre of interactions between academics and practitioners focused on ecological distribution conicts. The CEECEC project CEECEC was a European Commission-funded project (E750,000) to enable CSOs to engage in and lead collaborative research with ecological economists (CEECEC n.d). The overall focus was not on theory but on case study learning, whereby CSOs and academics identied and explored key issues for research in areas such as water management, waste disposal, transport and trade, tourism, nature conservation, extractive industries, forestry and agriculture, based on CSO knowledge, needs and interests. The methological approach in CEECEC was to ask environmental CSOs to write reports on case studies of their own choice and then collaborate with university institutes in turning these reports into chapters of a handbook which would be helpful for CSOs in the development of their frames of action and strategies on the ground. The CSOs chose with total freedom the case studies they wanted to write about often major ongoing conicts. The academic partners held workshops with the CSOs and engaged in two-way communication, shaping the chapters written by them and providing keywords. The CSOs that took part in CEECEC (listed in Table 1 together with the titles of the case studies) were the CSE from India, Accion Ecologica from Ecuador, the CED-Friends of the Earth from Cameroon, Endemit from Serbia, Sunce from Croatia, Rebraf from Brazil, VODO from Belgium and ASud from Italy. Academic partners were ICTA UAB (coordi nator), SERI from Austria (a think-tank that took care of the website), the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Gepama (University of Buenos Aires), ECOMAN (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and IFF (Vienna, specialised in the study of social metabolism). Dr Simron Jit Singh (IFF, Vienna) wrote one chapter on the role of donor CSOs after the Tsunami of 2004 in the Nicobar Islands this chapter teaches about material ow accounting as well as about institutions and markets. Similarly, the ICTA UAB contributed one chapter by Leah Temper on conicts on the human appropriation of net primary production

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Table 1. The CEECEC case studies. Case Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in India from the bottom-up CSE Keywords

Willingness to pay, opportunity cost, Coasian bargaining, environmental services, transaction costs, community property rights, CDM Participatory forest management in Mendha Biomass economy, Gross Nature Product, GDP of the Lekha, India CSE poor, joint forest management, watershed management, social capital, self regulation, consensual democracy, community rights, nonmonetary economy, livelihood security, rights-based approach Mineral extraction and conict in Cordillera Copper mining, Shuar communities, environmentalism del Condor, Ecuador Accion Ecologica of the poor, biodiversity hot spot, ILO Convention 169, Social Multicriteria Methods, languages of valuation, inconmensurability of values Manta-Manaos Multi-modal Transport Social metabolism, material ows, transport Infrastructure in Ecuador: Nature, Capital infrastructure, local knowledge, resource extraction, and Plunder Accion Ecologica Chinese export markets, free trade, IIRSA Waste crisis in Campania, Italy Sud Hazardous waste, Ecomaa, cost shifting, post-normal science, Zero waste, incinerators, Lawrence Summers principle, DPSIR (Driving forces, Pressures, States, Impacts, Responses), corruption, EROI High speed transport infrastructure (TAV) in Transport and energy, material ows, participatory Italy ASud democracy, Cost Benet Analysis, Multi Criteria Evaluation, High speed, NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), activist knowledge Local governance and environment Environmental investments, grazing rights, community investments in Hiware Bazar, India CSE resource management, water harvesting, National rural employment guarantee Act (NREGA), institutional innovations, property rights, virtual water, livelihood security Nautical tourism in the Lastovo Islands Nautical tourism, marine biodiversity, depopulation, Nature Park, Croatia SUNCE landscape value, property rights, protected area management, carrying capacity, resilience, public participation, willingness to pay, eco-tourism management Local communities and management of Protected areas, dams and hydroelectricity, protected areas in Serbia (Djerdap) depopulation, co-management, eco-tourism, forest ENDEMIT economics, local livelihood opportunities, ecosystem services, Krutillas rule, cost-benet analysis, trans-boundary cooperation Mechanisms in support of the creation and Biodiversity valuation, ecological economic zoning, consolidation of protected areas in Mato avoided deforestation, carbon trade, payment for Grosso, Brazil: the potential of REDD environmental services, opportunity cost, and Legal Reserve Compensation institutional innovations, stakeholder participation, REBRAF public policy formulation Forestry and communities in Cameroon Industrial logging, property rights, community forests, CED-FoE co-management, community interests, commodity chains, ecologically unequal exchange, cost shifting, corporate accountability, corruption, wood certication, fair trade, consumer blindness, languages of valuation, FLEGT
(Continued)

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Table 1. Continued. Case Environmental Justice and Ecological Debt in Belgium: the UMICORE case VODO Keywords

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Ecological debt, lead pollution, manufacturing of uncertainty, environmental justice, popular epidemiology, post-normal science, environmental externalities, corporate accountability/liability, value of human life, discount rate, greenwashing Aid, social metabolism and social conict in Humanitarian aid, material and energy ows, working the Nicobar Islands IFF-UKL time, property rights, community ownership, subsistence economy, natural disasters Land use and water disputes in the Tana Wetlands, land-grabbing, irrigation, pastoralists, Delta, Kenya, ICTA UAB Nature property rights, biofuels, EROI, HANPP, virtual Kenya water, biodiversity

(HANPP) in the Tana Delta in Kenya, born out of a collaboration with Nature Kenya and the East African Widlife Society. This chapter developed from a live ecological economics session at the conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) in Nairobi in 2008. In sum, 2 of the 14 chapters have been written by the academic partners (cheating on the initial plan), and two or three others (in Cameroon and Ecuador) beneted from the visits of graduate students from the ICTA UAB. A 12-week trial on-line course was run between May and July 2010 with 25 students, most of them members of CSOs but a few university lecturers and students and public administrators. For the course, lectures (based on the chapters) featuring slideshows with recorded audio were made available together with essay questions for students. There are further plans for on-line teaching and learning of ecological economics from the bottom up and also for publishing a book based on CEECEC. The EJOLT project In 2010, upon the completion of CEECEC, another FP7 Science-in-Society project (over E3.5 million) was awarded, involving 23 organisations: 8 university research institutes, 2 think-tanks, 1 independent laboratory and 12 EJOs (Table 2). The EJOLT project is geared to support research on two key issues of immediate interests to society. Which are the underlying causes of the increasing ecological distribution conicts at different scales? How can such conicts be turned into forces for environmental sustainability? Conicts arising in mining, oil and gas extraction, nuclear energy, shipbreaking and ewaste disposal, tree plantations, biomass exports and land grabbing will be studied across the world. The action plan of EJOLT encompasses the production of databases and maps of environmental injustices, networking platforms, mutual case study development, policy papers, dissemination of best practices, scientic articles, videos, on-line courses and other training materials. For instance, one EJOLT partner is the WRM, an organisation doing activist research on tree plantations conicts. The WRM collaborated with J.F. Gerber (ICTA UAB) who prepared a world inventory of tree plantations conicts, listing the relevant variables that could help explain the incidence of such conicts (Gerber 2010). EJOLT will continue such statistical work, extending it to other conicts on biomass, oil and gas extraction, mining conicts and some waste disposal conicts. Figure 1 shows the structure of EJOLT, composed of four vertical work packages, dealing with: (1) the nuclear energy chain from uranium mining to waste disposal; (2) oil and gas extraction and climate change injustices; (3) biomass and land grabbing

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Table 2. The EJOLT partners. Organisation ` ` Institut de Ciencia i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (ICTA UAB) (Coordinator) Centre for Civil Society (CCS) ASud CDCA CSSP Jawaharlal Nehru University Sozial Okologie Institut University of Klagenfurt (IFF) Focus Association for Sustainable Development (FOCUS) Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz (FIOCRUZ) World Rainforest Movement (WRM) Accion Ecologica Observatorio de Conictos Mineros en America Latina (OCMAL) Citizens for Justice (CFJ) Earthlife Namibia (ELN) Environmental Rights Action Oilwatch (ERA) Northern Alliance for Sustainability (ANPED) Nature Kenya (NK) Lund University Universitat Rovira i Virgili Bogazici University Business and Human Rights Za Zemiata (ZZ) Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI) Universite de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ) Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN) Commission de Recherche et dInformation Independantes sur la Radioactivite (CRIIRAD) Spain South Africa (Durban) Italy India Austria Slovenia Brazil Uruguay Ecuador Malawi Namibia Nigeria Belgium Kenya Sweden Spain Turkey UK Bulgaria Germany France Spain France Country

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conicts and (4) other mining and waste disposal conicts such as ship disposal and e-waste exports. Both resource extraction and waste disposal are considered (including disposal of greenhouse gases that gives rise to climate justice issues) (Martinez-Alier 2009). EJOLT also includes ve cross-cutting work packages: (1) an inventory and (2) map of ecological distribution conicts drawing on the knowledge of the EJOs and their networks; (3) three workshops on risks to environmental health, on economic valuation of enviromental liabilities, on court cases and other procedures to enforce corporate accountability and to obtain environmental justice locally and internationally; (4) a workshop on ecologically unequal trade and the ecological debt bringing together the results of previous workshops and nally, (5) one more transversal work package will carry out bottom-up training (based on the CEECEC model), including policy formulation, as well as dissemination through video productions.

Indian roots The CEECEC and the EJOLT projects have common origins. CEECEC originated before the 9th biennial Conference of the ISEE in New Delhi in December 2006, when a contribution to the conference by Hali Healy pointed out that ecological economics lacked signicance for non-governmental organisations. This was perhaps true but it rattled a bit. At that time, Martinez-Alier was president of ISEE and he had been involved in

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Figure 1.

Structure of the EJOLT project.

research and academic collaboration in India for 20 years. His knowledge of Indias environmental activists went back to the publication by the Centre for Science and Environment (Delhi) of the First and Second Citizens Reports on the State of the Environment, the publication by Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain of the CSE of the inuential booklet Global warming in an unequal world: a case of environmental colonialism in 1991 and his collaboration with Indian environmental historians (Guha and MartinezAlier 1997). Because of this connection and long-term professional ties, Sunita Narain, the head of the CSE, was invited to attend the ISEE conference and give a plenary speech. Despite being at at rst reluctant to deliver the speech, she nevertheless accepted because she was asked to do so by Prof. N.S. Johda (2001), the author of Life on the edge. Sustaining agriculture and community resources in fragile environments (Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2001), who had long been an advocate of bringing together science and practical local knowledge, as so many other activist groups in India did. This meant that Sunita Narain, a non-academic activist, was a plenary speaker at the ISEE conference. In fact, the CSE journal Down to Earth had carried articles on valuation of non-timber forest products, the costs of urban air pollution, the economics of water harvesting in Indian villages, bottom-up cases of payment for environmental services and also the political economy of climate change. The goal and hope for the conference was that Sunita Narain could teach practical ecological economics (her talk was on human excrement, its production and management in New Delhi) and hopefully that the CSE could also gain some valuable knowledge from the conference deliberations and debates for its work.

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Italian and Latin American roots Present at the ISEE Conference in New Delhi in December 2006 was also Giuseppe de Marzo (2009), a leading member of the Italian EJO ASud (and a partner both in CEECEC and in EJOLT), author of a book entitled Buen Vivir (based on a concept enshrined in the new Constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador). Over the years, ASud has built an archive of environmental conicts with emphasis on Latin America (CDCA n.d). De Marzo had also taken part in debates on the ecological debt, a concept born in activist circles in 1990 at the Instituto de Ecologa Poltica in Chile (Robleto and Marcelo 1992) and discussing the thinning of the ozone layer and later climate change. In 1997 and after, a campaign on ecological debt was taken up, mainly by the EJO Accion Ecologica from Ecuador. Furthermore, ASud was familiar with attempts to provide a nancial estimate of the environmental and social damages of Chevron-Texacos oil extraction in Ecuador in a court case started in 1993. Such calculations of corporate liability are indeed instances of applied ecological economics (as in the UMICORE case in CEECEC). ASud was also interested in another line of work in ecological economics, the study of social metabolism, which they found useful for activists because of the link between increasing ows of energy and materials into the economy and the increased number of resource extraction conicts. ASud thus became a partner of CEECEC (as also did Accion Ecologica from Ecuador), contributing not only their knowledge of environmental conicts worldwide but also two chapters on major environmental conicts in Italy. Another partner of CEECEC (Walter Pengue, from the University of Buenos Aires) had also pushed the notion of the ecological debt tracing the loss of nutrients, soil and virtual water in the soybean exports of Argentina (Pengue 2005).

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Ecological debt: activism leads to scientic production and policy-making In the 1990s, the concept of the ecological debt spread among activists because of the difculty that countries were facing in paying back their external nancial debt. Activists asked the question Who owes Whom? and concluded that Southern countries should actually be seen as creditors, not debtors (Figure 2), hence the creation of the network

Figure 2. An activist message, at the venue of the World Social Forum, Mumbai 2004. Source: Vivek Bendre, Frontline.

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SPEDCA, Southern Peoples Ecological Debt Creditors Alliance, around 2000 (SPEDCA n.d). Shortly after, the notion was taken up by non-environmental CSOs including the World Council of Churches (Peralta 2009). Since 1997, Accion Ecologica has also sponsored several international meetings on the ecological debt with the international confederation of Friends of the Earth. If the concept of the ecological debt originally came from civil society activism (Martinez-Alier 2002, Simms 2005), after 20 years it is now reaching the policy arena in proposals for an agreement on climate change policies. For instance, Roberts and Parks (2007) show that carbon dioxide emissions are increasing sharply in some raw materials exporting developing countries as wealthy nations offshore the energy and natural resource-intensive stages of production. Industrialised nations are thus in a situation of carbon debt or ecological debt relative to Southern nations, as they have greatly exceeded their share of equitable, global per capita carbon emissions and have already used up most of the space available for greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. In terms of public policy, Roberts and Parks assert that fund transfers could help poorer nations transition from carbon-intensive pathways to more climate-friendly development trajectories, using remuneration from the so-called ecological debt. This view ts into the Yasuni ITT initiative in Ecuador, which was one starting point for CEECEC when the project was written in early 2007. The original Yasuni ITT proposal came from Accion Ecologica at the end of 2006. The idea of the Yasuni ITT is that the economic value (net of extraction costs) of the estimated 850 million barrels of oil that will not be extracted out of the Amazonian soil is less than the value of the local biodiversity, the avoided carbon dioxide emissions and the rights of the local indigenous people and that these net benets accrue in part to the global community. Or rather, the value of the oil and the other items come in different units. After several years of campaigning around the globe, the goverment of Ecuador nally signed an agreement with UNDP in August 2010 to set up a Trust Fund in which contributions to the Yasuni ITT project will be collected for investment in renewable energies and social development. Ecuador asks for outside contributions of 3.6 billion USD over 13 years, equalling half the estimated foregone revenue. Such contributions may be seen as repayments for the ecological debt. The Yasuni ITT case is a solid example of how the claims and demands of EJOs have penetrated the policy arena and contributed to innovative proposals that help address climate change while providing support for biodiversity conservation and social policies locally. There are an increasing number of academic articles and books scrutinising the Yasuni ITT proposal. Srinivasan et al. (2008) quantied (at 2 trillion USD) the ecological debt from north to south. A large part of this is the climate debt. This was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, signalling the academic credibility of the concept of ecological debt. In several books and articles, Paredis et al. (2008) and Goeminne and Paredis (2009) provided an academic discussion on this grassroots concept that has now matured. Furthermore, in Copenhagen in December 2009, at least 20 heads of government or ministers explicitly mentioned the ecological debt in their main speeches, some also using the loaded word reparations. A presentation on the climate debt was made by Pablo Solon, Bolivias Ambassador to the United Nations. He said that admitting responsibility for the climate crisis without taking necessary actions to address it is like someone burning your house and then refusing to pay for it. Even if the re was not started on purpose, the industrialised countries, through their inaction, have continued to add fuel to the re. . .. It is entirely unjustiable that countries like Bolivia are now forced to pay for the crisis. [. . .] Who should address this? To us it seems only right that the polluter should pay, and not the poor. We are not assigning guilt, merely responsibility. As they say in the US, if you

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break it, you buy it. The claim for compensation for the climate debt 20 years after Rio 1992 is now audible to anybody witnessing the international negotiations. Thus, in Decem ber 2009, the then Foreign Relations Minister of Ecuador (Fander Falcon) stated in Copenhagen that poor countries were like passive smokers, mentioning explicitly the polluter pays principle and the notion of the ecological debt. Here there is a clear line from activism to science and to policy-making at different scales. From science to activism: Via Campesina looks at the EROI of agriculture As much as activism has inuenced the production of scientic knowledge and environmental policy-making, scientic research has also supported the work of non-governmental organisations, as shown by the example of biofuel production. Critiques of biofuel or agrofuel production from ecological economists (Russi 2008, Giampietro and Mayumi 2009) are based on three main points. First, agrofuels mean an increase in the HANPP to the detriment of other species and occupying space that could be used to grow food crops. Second, agrofuels consume a lot of virtual water that could have been used for other crops or purposes. Third, agrofuels have a low EROI, perhaps lower than 1 or perhaps only 1.5 to 1 or 2 to 1 when we deduct from the output, as we should, the net energy produced in the elds before they are turned into agrofuel monocultures. The debates on agrofuels have repopularised the analysis of agriculture as a system of transformation of energy, but the rst calculations date from the late nineteenth century (Martinez-Alier 1987). At that time, agriculture was seen as producer of food energy and not of fuel for cars, although Rudolf Diesel himself said that his engine could work with vegetable oils. Later, in the early 1970s, taking up H.T. Odums view of modern agriculture as farming with petroleum, several researchers did careful accounts of the output input ratio of agricultural systems. The best-known calculations were by Pimentel et al. (1973) published in Science. It was striking to realise that the energy output input ratio of corn production in Iowa or Illinois was lower than that for the traditional milpa corn production system of rural Mexico. From an economic point of view, modern agriculture increased productivity, but from a physical point of view, it lowered the energy efciency. The concept of EROI, fundamental in the history of ecological economics (and also of ecological anthropology, Rappaport 1967), has now been taken up after 40 years by pro-peasant CSOs and by the international network Via Campesina. The EROI concept has also proved to be useful (outside peasant activism) to environmental or indigenous organisations complaining, for instance, against Alberta oil sands extraction. Since 2007, Via Campesina has published reports stating that agriculture has changed from being a producer of energy to being a consumer of energy. Actually, agriculture transforms solar energy into food, and it does not produce energy. The efciency of photosynthesis is around 1%, thus a lot of the solar energy input is not incorporated into the food energy. However, the meaning of Via Campesinas statement is clear: the (fossil-fuel-based) inputs of energy into agriculture (not counting solar energy) have increased faster than the outputs and in developed economies more energy is put into the agricultural and food system than we get out of the system. Via Campesina states in its reports that the rst role of plants and agriculture is to transform solar energy into energy in the form of sugars and cellulose that can be directly absorbed in food or transformed by animals into animal products. This is a process which brings energy into the food chain. However, the industrialisation of agriculture has led to an agriculture which is a net consumer of energy (i.e. fertilisers, tractors and oil-based agrochemicals). Moreover, fodder and food transport as well as deforestation for pastures, soybeans or oil palms makes

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agriculture even more of an energy consumer and a contributor to climate change. The capacity of the soils to retain carbon is also damaged by modern agriculture. In addition to its reports, Via Campesina summarised its core arguments in booklets and posters prepared for the COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 stating that peasant agriculture cools down the earth (Figure 3). Does it matter that Via Campesina forgets to quote H.T. Odum (1971), Pimentel et al. (1973), Hall et al. (1986) or indeed De Saussure who in 1804 demonstrated that plants absorb carbon dioxide by photosynthesis, todays primary (or secondary) school knowledge? Here the trafc went rst from science to activism and later from activism to academic research and to public policies. Doctoral theses, scientic articles and policy proposals are now written on different aspects of food sovereignty, the concept that summarises the frames developed by Via Campesina to point to the environmental and social consequences of over-industrialisation and intensive agriculture. Ecologically unequal trade: from science to activism One CEECEC case study deals with deforestation, community resistance and the wood trade in Cameroon. It was written by CED (Centre for Environment and Development led by Samuel Nguiffo and a member organisation of Friends of the Earth International). Some keywords of this chapter (Table 1), industrial logging, community forests, commodity chains, ecologically unequal exchange, corporate accountability, corruption, wood certication, consumer blindness, FLEGT, are a direct reection of recent research in the ecological economics of trade and of existing policies. For instance, FLEGT refers to a European-sponsored programme on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade, while another keyword consumer blindness arose at a CEECEC workshop to indicate the lack of knowledge in importing countries of the origins and conditions of production of commodities consumed. Another concept ecologically unequal trade is a 20-year old concept alien to mainstream economics. It was easily understood however by the activist writers from Cameroon. In this context, a project like CEECEC was meant to translate or make accessible for EJOs and other stakeholder propositions such as: Tied to their

Figure 3. An activist message, peasant agriculture cools down the earth. Source: Duke University students, December 2009.

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unsustainable consumption levels, this misappropriation (of global environmental space) by higher-income countries leads to the suppression of resource consumption in lowerincome countries, well below globally sustainable thresholds, which negatively impacts the well-being of domestic populations (Jorgenson 2009). CEECEC has allowed EJOs to incorporate recent ecological economics theory into their frames and strengthen their arguments and claims (Hornborg 1998, 2009, Hornborg et al. 2007, Rice 2007, Hornborg and Jorgensen 2010). At the beginning of European colonisation, the goods imported were what Wallerstein called preciosities. The means of transport at the time made large shipments impossible. A few bulk commodities such as wood, guano and cotton later had roles in the technometabolism of the importing countries. However, in the early twentieth century, the countries of todays European Union still depended on their own coal and biomass as energy sources, while now they are large net importers of oil and gas. Today, taking all materials together, the European Union imports nearly four times more tons than it exports. Meanwhile, Latin America as a whole appears to be exporting six times more tons than it imports (Giljum and Eisenmenger 2004). Moreover, Southern exports carry heavier ecological rucksacks than the imports. This added an ecological perspective to older theories of deteriorating terms of trade for commodity-exporting countries. Steve Bunker wrote an inuential book on raw material exports and the lack of political power in Northern Brazil (Bunker 1984, 1985). This was followed by articles in Ecological Economics and the Journal of Industrial Ecology looking at physical trade balances between countries or regions (Muradian and Martinez-Alier 2001, Muradian et al. 2002, Perez Rincon 2006, 2007, Gonzalez and Schandl 2008, Russi et al. 2008, Munoz et al. 2009, Vallejo 2010, Vallejo et al. 2011). Thus, while ecological debt was born from activism and transmitted to academia, the concept of ecologically unequal exchange was developed by academics, becoming relevant for EJOs and also for policy-makers considering the establishment of natural capital depletion taxes. The president of Ecuador, for example, asked OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) in November 2007 to impose an eco-tax on oil exports because of unpaid local negative externalities and the enhanced greenhouse effect (Martinez-Alier and Temper 2007). Assessment of health risks and environmental liabilities: the UMICORE case The next case analyses the role of activist researchers in assessing health risks and environmental liabilities coming from corporate practices. VODO is a Flemish federation of civil society groups working on sustainable development. Its executive secretary in 20072009 was Leida Rijnhout (now in 2010 executive secretary at ANPED, a Northern European federation of environmental CSOs). Inspired by debates on the ecological debt, VODO took up the UMICORE corporation case in Flanders for the CEECEC project, with support from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (Lea Sebastien and Tom Bauler, cf. Cornut et al. 2007). The assessment of risks to health in resource extraction or waste disposal conicts is a topic both in CEECEC and in EJOLT. One can often observe the two-way communication between activists on the ground and outside experts regarding the uncertain risks from new investments in agrofuels, mining, oil and gas extraction and recycling practices. This is post-normal science in practice (Funtowicz and Ravetz 1994, Pereira and Funtowicz 2009, Walter and Martinez-Alier 2010). Funtowicz and Ravetzs post-normal science coincides to some extent with Becks risk society theory, sharing the view that the precautionary principle has not historically been applied despite early warnings (EEA 2002) and fostering the debate about social participation in the denition of environmental risks. In the

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context of complexity, uncertainty and difculties concerning assessment, responsibility and compensation, stakeholder participation in decision-making processes acquires a new rationale. This perspective (well known to ecological economists) was brought into the UMICORE chapter in CEECEC. In the Antwerp suburb of Hoboken, where UMICORE runs the worlds largest precious metals recycling unit, controversies about health risks and the incidence of cancer are still taking place. Despite epidemiological research that could have been deemed strong enough statistically, evidence of risks and cancer incidence was and is still disputed by the rm. To illustrate this more than skeptical corporate attitude, the CEECEC case study on the topic featured the keyword manufacturing of uncertainty. Although the plant has implemented substantial ecological modernisation since the 1970s, the legacy of 125 years of historic pollution is still present. Lead, arsenic and cadmium levels in the soil increase with proximity to the factory, as does the level of lead in the blood of toddlers and infants. As a result, since the early 1920s, local actors have been asking for decontamination and compensation. In 2004, the company paid E77 million for a clean-up of the area in proximity to its plants. In light of the health impacts of the companys recycling work, the UMICORE chapter in CEECEC quantied the environmental liability or ecological debt, calculating the amount that the company owes to nearby residents, with a focus on health damages and loss of capabilities. The authors combined the best available studies on damage to health and crops in Hoboken with relevant calculations of the cost of illness, the economic values of human life and foregone benets from gardening. The results of their study show the environmental liability of a single industrial plant and inform recommendations for actions to be taken by the chemical industry and the government to enforce corporate accountability. The main author of the study, Nick Meynen, a young activist journalist, believes that his study could be used by civil society to seek reparations from the rm. In the course of 2011, this chapter might become an article in an environmental sciences journal. In sum, the UMICORE case illustrates the dialectic and dynamic relations at the centre of the interactions and collaborations between academics, activists and practitioners. This iterative and mutually reinforcing relationship between knowledge production and knowledge use will ultimately contribute to addressing the causes and consequences of environmental conicts. GDP of the poor Finally, we focus on another CEECEC case study, this one on the tribal village of Mendha Lekha in eastern Maharashtra in India, written by Supriya Singh of the Center for Science and the Environment. The adivasi Gonds traditionally depend on the forest for food, grazing, timber, water and other resources. The village is one of the few remaining villages in the Gadchiroli district that controls and manages a village forest of 18 km2 according to its own rules. Since the village depends heavily on its forest, all decisions pertaining to the management and extraction of resources (the governing of the commons) are taken collectively. The chapter in CEECEC describes the institutions of environmental and resource management. Far from a tragedy of the commons taking place, the village is a successful example of community-based resource management. The economy is selfsustaining and unaffected by the vagaries of the market economy as the Gonds have managed to keep their economy relatively free of monetisation. Despite being poor in monetary terms and also with regard to material possessions, Supriya Singh emphasises that their economy is not adequately measured in GDP accounting. Many timber and non-timber products from the forests and many environmental resources (water, pastures

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and medicinal plants) are provided for by nature according to social rules of access without going through market transactions. Work is performed outside the market, both for economic production and for social reproduction. Furthermore, one of the keywords of this study is the GDP of the poor, introduced in 2008 by TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, a project sponsored by UNEP and by DG ENV of the European Commission). The GDP of the poor concept argues that the monetary representation of the services provided by clean water, soil retention, access to wood and pastures and medicinal plants does not really measure the essential dependence of rural poor people on such resources and services. In traditional GDP accounting, the economic valuation of such losses might be low relative to the economic gains of projects that destroy biodiversity. The groups of people who suffer most from such losses however are traditional poor rural communities (Orta et al. 2008, Gerber et al. 2009), hence the notion of the GDP of the poor. This notion is illustrated in cases of water river or aquifer pollution due to mining extraction. Here, the poor cannot use the river or aquifer as a source of potable water any longer, but cannot afford to buy water in plastic bottles either. Therefore, when poor people see that their sources of livelihood are threatened by mining projects, dams, tree plantations or large industrial areas, their claims stem from the fact that they need the services of the environment for their immediate survival, hence the concept of the environmentalism of the poor (Guha and Martinez-Alier 1997). Here as well, the environmental impacts of resource extraction or pollution are taken up and analysed by scientists, who in turn develop concepts that can be used by activists and communities on the ground to assert their claims to policy-makers and corporations that support destructive practices. Beyond GDP lies economic degrowth: again from activism to science The reality of the GDP of the poor is one of the reasons why we should mistrust national macroeconomic accounting and go Beyond GDP. This expression, Beyond GDP, became fashionable in Brussels among some European civil servants and politicians some 40 years after Commission President Sicco Mansholt in 1972 had already criticised GDP and proposed an end to economic growth in rich countries. The slogan in Brussels is the greening of the economy: beyond GDP. GDP growth coincides with increasing pressure on biodiversity, climate change and the destruction of human livelihoods at the commodity frontiers (Moore 2000). Environmental activists are comforted by the academic critiques of GDP. Actually, feminist activists and academics (Waring 1988) made a convincing argument against GDP accounting because it forgot to count not only natures services but also unpaid domestic work. Moreover, another type of critique against GDP accounting is now surfacing socially, the so-called Easterlin Paradox as updated by work by social psychologists which shows that increases in happiness do not correlate with increases in income above a certain level of per capita income. In a paper published in 1974, Easterlin found that within a given country people with higher incomes are more likely to report being happy. However, in international comparisons, the average reported level of happiness did not vary much with national income per person, at least for countries with income sufcient to meet basic needs. Similarly, although income per person rose steadily in the USA between 1946 and 1970, average reported happiness showed no long-term trend and declined between 1960 and 1970. Such criticisms against the methods and relevance of GDP accounting go much beyond complementary measurements of social performance such as the human development index

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which correlates very closely with GDP per capita. They also go beyond the idea of simply greening the GDP, or introducing satellite accounts. Among the physical indices of sustainability, the best known is the ecological footprint (EF) that made its debut in 1992 at an Ecological Economics Conference (Rees and Wackernagel 1994). The WWF publishes the EF results regularly. The EF translates the use per capita of land for food, bre, wood, plus the built environment (paved space for houses and roads), plus the hypothetical land that would absorb the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels into a single representative number in hectares. The EF is a constructed index, and it does not measure any given properties of nature or human systems. The calculations also assume that humans have a right to use most of the planet. In any case, work on ecological economics for EJOs should analyse the social success of the EF and the uses of this index by EJOs. Going beyond GDP accounting should mean looking beyond the single imperative of economic growth in developed countries and should mean something different from greening the GDP or, at the other extreme, genuecting before one single environmental index such as the EF. It should mean to go into multi-criteria assessment of the economy, working with 10 or 12 indicators of social, cultural, economic and environmental performance (Shmelev and Rodriguez-Labajos 2009). Social movements have sometimes referred to the works of academics in regard to another related demand: socially sustainable economic degrowth. The decroissance movement has some of its roots in ecological economics, namely in Georgescu-Roegens work. Some of his articles were translated and published by Grinevald and Rens in 1979 with the title Demain la decroissance, with which he agreed (Grinevald and Rens 1995). This was the rst time that economic degrowth was put forward as a slogan (Martinez-Alier et al. 2010). The bulk of French and Italian activists in the decroissance and decrescita movements might have read a few articles by Georgescu-Roegen but not his books on energy, materials and the economy (1966 (introduction), 1971). They are not available in French or Italian, and they are hard to digest in any case. Nevertheless, this does not stop activists from singing the praises of Georgescu-Roegen. This behaviour is painful to scholars but it is in the nature of social movements. The Degrowth activists in France and Italy are also keen on one concept from industrial ecology: the Jevons paradox or rebound effect (Polimeni et al. 2008) because they argue against techno-optimism and the use of technology to transcend environmental limits. They have read economic anthropologists such as Serge Latouche (2007) and are inspired by environmental thinkers of the 1970s such as Andre Gorz and Ivan Illich. But Degrowth is not based on iconic writings. It is a social movement born from experiences of cohousing, squatting, neo-ruralism, reclaiming the streets, alternative energies, waste prevention and recycling. It is a new slogan, a new movement and it has become a new research programme. This is again a case of activist-led science, towards a new branch in the sustainability sciences that could be called economic degrowth studies closely related to socio-ecological transition studies (Fischer-Kowalski and Haberl 2007, Krausmann et al. 2008, 2009, Haberl et al. 2009a,b). There is no similar Degrowth movement in Germany, the UK, the USA or Japan, but the convergence of Degrowth activists with ecological economists and industrial ecologists has produced already two scholarly conferences in Europe (Paris, April 2008 and Barcelona, March 2010) (Degrowth 2010). The words economic degrowth have also been introduced into academic journals. A collection of papers from the 2008 conference (Schneider et al. 2010) was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production including a remarkable article by Christian Kerschner explaining Georgescu-Roegens criticism of Dalys steady-state economy (Daly 1973, 1991, 2007). Kerschner looks at degrowth as a

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stage towards steady-state economy. There is a book by Mylondo (2009) with papers from the 2008 conference, while special issues from the 2010 conference are in preparation for Ecological Economics and the Journal of Cleaner Production. The same group has produced a lm, Life after growth, by Claudia Medina and Leah Temper. Conclusion This article explains the origins and contents of two European FP7 Science-in-Society projects, CEECEC and EJOLT, giving examples of activist-led science and of scienceled activism in the eld of ecological economics and also in political ecology. CEECEC was focused on learning and teaching ecological economics with environmental activists while EJOLT combines academic and activist knowledge to answer two main questions: which are the roots of the increasing number of resource extraction and waste disposal conicts taking place at different scales? How might such conicts be turned into forces for environmental sustainability? EJOs and their networks are learning to use concepts from ecological economics and other sustainability sciences, activities which could be labelled capacity building. More importantly, EJOs and their networks have developed new concepts (ecological debt, food sovereignty, corporate accountability and economic degrowth) that have become subject to academic scrutiny and in some cases have been taken up in public policies. For instance, quantication of the ecological debt from North to South fulls the demand from EJOs and also from government ofcials for instruction in the methods of calculation in terms that activists and citizens can understand. Moreover, this two-way communication improves the relevance and immediacy of scientic research to civil society concerns. The CEECEC project (2008 2010) adopted a case study approach in order to achieve its goals of learning and teaching ecological economics with CSOs, particularly EJOs. EJOs constantly conduct research on environmental conicts and write reports as part of their advocacy work. What CEECEC provided to them was a critical audience of interested activists and academic partners, who gave encouragement, made comparisons and provided keywords and references, keeping in mind the nal objective of building a handbook and on-line course with a glossary for teaching ecological economics from the "bottom up" instead of from rst principles. Here, EJOs appreciate the transdisciplinary approach of ecological economics (in contrast with the narrow compass of neoclassical enviromental and resource economics). EJOLT is another cooperative or collaborative or partnership project (much larger in scale than CEECEC) which will run from 2011 to 2014 to support mutual learning and collaboration among stakeholders who make use of the sustainability sciences, focusing on ecological distribution conicts worldwide. During the implementation of EJOLT, the knowledge of EJO activists will be combined with the methodologies of the academic partners to show the policy relevance of concepts such as ecologically unequal exchange and ecological debt. It will cover more issues and territories than CEECEC, with the double objective of, rstly, providing inventories and maps and advancing a theory of the causes of the increased number of ecological distribution conicts, and, secondly, showing how such conicts for environmental justice can be turned into a decisive force that moves the economy towards sustainability. New topics arise all the time. EJOs have large stocks of environmental knowledge gained from their grassroots experience and activism. They have introduced concepts that academics have taken up, rened and dened carefully and have operationalised through

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calculations. Ecological debt and climate debt are such concepts. Corporate accountability is another such activist concept (Clapp and Utting 2009). In other cases, EJOs and their networks can take concepts from academics (ecologically unequal exchange, GDP of the poor and corporate environmental liabilities) and use them for their own ends. Such dynamics illustrate the mutually reinforcing relationship between researchers and activists and the dialectic relation between knowledge production and knowledge use. The post-normal science approach (Pereira and Funtowicz 2009) has legitimated civil society interventions in disputes with business and administrators who impose participatory exclusions (Agarwal 2001) in the name of the so-called sound science. Meanwhile, concepts such as embodied HANPP and virtual water, methods such as participatory multi-criteria evaluation and in general deliberative ecological economics (Zografos and Howarth 2008) are waiting for takers from civil society, very much as calculations of the EROI of agriculture waited for 30 years until they became activist knowledge through Via Campesina. There are other examples of activist-led science and of science-led activism in the eld of sustainability studies, which will hopefully lead to new procedures for decision-making and to new policies. For instance, economic degrowth leading to a steady state is a plausible objective for the rich industrial economies, one that would be supported by the environmental justice movements of the South which are active in resource extraction conicts.

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