SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Is There a Global Movement for Environmental Justice?

Professor Joan Martinez-Alier (Department of Economics and Economic History, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)

Date: 24 November 2015Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 24 November 2015Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

I think we can show there is such a movement for environmental justice, relying for evidence on the Environmental Justice Atlas (, a database drawing on activist and academic knowledge. In the EJAtlas we have collected 1500 cases (June 2015), we must improve and increase thematic and geographical coverage in the next few years. EJAtlas systematizes conflicts across 100+ fields documenting the commodities at stake, the social actors involved; environmental, social and health impacts, forms of mobilizations, outcomes. It should allow spatial analysis showing links between changes in social metabolism and resource extraction conflicts at the ‘commodity frontiers’.


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Is There a Global Movement for Environmental Justice? Prof Martinez-Alier

We can ask many new questions in statistical political ecology and social movement theory, e.g., does the involvement of different actors, e.g. indigenous groups, relate to different conflict outcomes? How often does the IUCN ally itself to ‘the environmentalism of the poor’? Do mobilizations vary consistently across sectors (hydroelectric dams, waste incinerators) according to economic and physical dimensions, environmental and health risks? Are conflicts on point resources (mining, oil) different from those on agriculture and forests? Can we track networked resistances against Western companies compared to Chinese ones? Is direct action by protesters more effective than institutional forms of contention? How often are women-leaders visible in environmental conflicts? Resistance to socio-environmental injustice has given birth to local and international EJOs pushing for alternative social transformations, and deploying a new Vocabulary of Environmental Justice whose origins from the 1980s to today, and mutual linkages, we study: e.g. popular epidemiology, sacrifice zones, climate justice, water justice, food sovereignty, biopiracy; China’s “cancer villages”, India’s “sand mafias”, Brazil’s “green deserts”, Argentina's "pueblos fumigados", and many others. Finally, I shall consider the growing alliance between the Global Environmental Justice Movement and the small European and USA movements for a "steady state economy", “prosperity without growth”, décroissance, Post-Wachstum?

Professor Joan Martínez Alier is a leading authority in the field of ecological economics. He has been Professor at the Department of Economics and Economic History, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona since 1975. An author of numerous publications and academic articles, his research interests lie in the fields of agrarian studies, ecological economics and political ecology. In addition, Professor Martínez Alier has been concerned with exploring the implications of ecological economics for developing countries. He is a founding member and a former president of the International Society for Ecological Economics and served as a member of the scientific committee at the European Environment Agency. He is also a director of the Environmental Justice Atlas (

This seminar is part of the SOAS Department of Development Studies & Bloomsbury DTC for the Social Sciences seminar series for 2015/2016. To see the full event listing click here.


Organiser: Professor Alfredo Saad-Filho & Dr Feyzi Ismail

Contact email:,

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4504 or 020 7898 4723