Complexity Galore: Sustainability Initiatives Confronting Uneven Environmental Degradation in the Global South -- Part 1

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Development Geographies Specialty Group, Economic Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Evergreen, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Organizers: Stefano Ponte, Opportuna Kweka, Bram Büscher
Chairs: Stefano Ponte


New and more complex initiatives and partnerships are emerging to address the equally complex environmental effects of ‘uneven geographical development’ (UGD) in the Global South. These initiatives variously link donors, governments, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business, consultants, certification agencies and other intermediaries. High expectations and many resources have been invested in them. Yet, we do not know whether more sophisticated organizational structures, more stakeholders involved, and more advanced participatory processes have delivered better social and environmental outcomes – and if so, in what places and sectors, under what circumstances, and with what distributional effects.

These sustainability initiatives are taking shape as contexts of, and narratives about, resource depletion, biodiversity loss and extinction are rapidly changing – bringing new international audiences, alliances and policies to bear on previously local and national issues. Central to these contexts and narratives is a growing sense of urgency about the enormity of intensifying yet uneven dynamics of environmental degradation. Political ecology approaches have shown that these processes are creating new kinds of values to previously existing resources and attracting more actors in competing for their access and utilization. New actors, partnerships and modes of governance (including those based on big data) are appearing or becoming more prominent as ‘old’ products and services (e.g. timber, fish, wildlife tourism) come under processes of sustainability certification or are more closely monitored and managed. Yet, we ask, can these increasingly complex sustainability initiatives keep up with, or do justice to, the equally increasingly complex environmental effects of recent waves of UGD in the global South? What types of politics, institutions and forms of governance result from this ‘complexity galore’ in different contexts? And how do these politics, institutions and forms of governance deal with the contradictory fact that many new sustainability partnerships are steeped in similar commodification logics that also inform more general processes of UGD?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Opportuna Kweka*, University of Dar es Salaam, Stefano Ponte, Copenhagen Business School, Multi-stakeholder Sustainability Initiatives in the Global South: Governance, Complexity and Outcomes 20 3:20 PM
Presenter Katherine Cann*, George Washington University, Untangling the Roots of the Mangrove Tree: Understanding and Uniting Diverse Stakeholder Interests Towards Successful Co-Management of a Coastal/Marine Protected Area in Panamá 20 3:40 PM
Presenter Bram Büscher*, Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University, Uneven Geographical Extinction: Charismatic species decline, Racial Anxiety and the privatisation of nature in Africa 20 4:00 PM
Presenter Faustin Maganga*, University of Dar es Salaam, Biodiversity conservation and property rights formalization initiatives in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania – Implications for pastoral and smallholder livelihoods 20 4:20 PM

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