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ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN THE AMAZON Dr. Chaone Mallory, Philosophy Villanova University K-12 “TEACH BRAZIL WORKSHOP,” OCTOBER 2, 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN THE AMAZON Dr. Chaone Mallory, Philosophy Villanova University K-12 “TEACH BRAZIL WORKSHOP,” OCTOBER 2, 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN THE AMAZON Dr. Chaone Mallory, Philosophy Villanova University K-12 “TEACH BRAZIL WORKSHOP,” OCTOBER 2, 2010

2 Definition of environment from U.S. environmental justice movement: “The environment is where we live, work, play, pray, and learn.” -WE ACT For Environmental Justice This definition does not separate humans from the natural world.

3 What is environmental justice? Looks at correlations and connections between social inequality and environmental problems Connects histories of racism, colonialism, gender discrimination, and classism to the fact of the disproportionate impact of environmental problems on marginalized groups in the present.

4 The Global Environmental Justice Movement Not just focused on toxics or distributional equity (i.e. who gets the “goods” and who gets the “bads”, takes a more expansive and inclusive understanding of “justice” “ [E]nvironmental justice activists often see themselves as outside the cultural mainstream; as such, their identities are devalued. This question of recognition is discussed in the movement both at the personal level and at the level of community; misrecognition is experienced in both realms. Additionally, the construction of inclusive, participatory decision-making institutions is at the centre of environmental justice demands. Environmental justice activists call for policy-making procedures that encourage active community participation, institutionalize public participation, recognize community knowledge, and utilize cross- cultural formats and exchanges to enable the participation of as much diversity as exists in a community. Environmental justice groups consistently demand a ‘place at the table’ and the right to ‘speak for ourselves’. “ -David Schlosberg, Professor of Political Science, Northern Arizona University (“Reconceiving Environmental Justice” p. 523 in Environmental Politics Vol.13, No.3, Autumn 2004,) Key Themes: Proponents are outside of dominant power structures and their interests and identities excluded; opposition to “mainstream” social forces Demand for recognition of diverse peoples, cultures, and ways of interacting with the environment Call for participatory decision-making at all levels Community involvement and recognition of community knowledge Those who are most affected by environmental decisions should get to take part in them

5 Looking at Brazil through the lens of environmental justice Brazil is 2 nd most powerful economy in Americas Predicted to be in top 6 in terms of GDP in the next 15 years Site of many struggles over issues related to development, deforestation, resource extraction, and indigenous rights Amazonia is home to many indigenous tribes opposed to development on their lands; and other political groups such as the MST (Movimento Sem Terre) who organize to empower the marginalized.

6 Applying an Environmental Justice framework can raise awareness of the often overlooked eco-cultural costs of development. For example:

7 Toxic foam chokes Brazil's most polluted waterway, the Tietê River, near Sao Paulo Pollution

8 Exacerbation of exploitation and poverty Street kids of Sao Paulo

9 Environmental Impacts, especially on the Amazonian Rainforest Slash-and-burn deforestation to clear land in Brazil

10 Instances of Environmental Injustice in the Amazon Oil and Gas Exploration Land Reform (American nun Dorothy Stang murder in 2005) Deforestation Hydroelectric Dam Installation

11 However, many of those negatively affected by development are protesting and resisting in the struggle for justice

12 Protest against dam building by coalition group

13 A dam being built on land and water utilized by the Enawene Nawe

14 Fighting for Survival The Enawene Nawe

15 BBC video on The Enawene Nawe

16 Resistance to Environmental Injustice Movimento Sem Terra (MST) What is the MST? Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) in Portuguese, is the largest social movement in Latin America with an estimated 1.5 million landless members organized in 23 out 27 states. The MST carries out long-overdue land reform in a country mired by unjust land distribution. In Brazil, less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the land on which crops could be grown. (

17 Conclusion Environmental Justice in Brazil and the Amazon requires attention to the effects of development on indigenous tribes, women, children, and the urban poor. Resistance groups in Brazil, like the MST, are part of the struggle for global environmental justice.

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