Environmental confrontations:1

It is perfectly logical to assume that, given projected future increases in populations, the destruction of ecosystems and the absorption of land for agriculture and housing, with the ensuing social dislocation, the whole arena covered by biodiversity— including flora and fauna—will become increasingly contested, leading to ‘environmental confrontations’.

At the heart of these confrontations lie control of and access to resources and commodities, driven on the one hand by the forces of commerce and on the other by the inhabitants and environmentalists for whom the definition of natural resources is rather different from that of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The word ‘confrontation’ is used simply because within the environmental arena the received perception of the terms ‘conflict’ and ‘war’ does not convey the essence of the many clashes that, while rarely resulting in deaths, do involve deep intensity, passion and commitment to a cause.

The arena of ‘environmental confrontations’ stretches to fundamental elements of society such as justice and equality: for example, the British lawyer Polly Higgins has been running a growing campaign to get the United Nations to make ‘ecocide’ (extensive destruction of the environment) a fifth Crime Against Peace.

These ‘environmental confrontations’ are multidimensional, involving ecological, social and economic interests, and operate both within and outside political and legal frameworks.

The clash between the environmentalists and inhabitants on the one hand and commerce and the demand for resources and commodities on the other poses
an escalating demand on governments to take sides and justify their stance, in doing which they will inevitably lose some measure of overall support. As such, it goes to the heart of governance, becoming a test of democratic credentials and of whether the power of business can triumph over the power of the people. Jasper Humphreys, The Marjan Centre

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