Why are the Third World’s environmental problems getting worse even though they are receiving unprecedented attention from policy makers and the media? Can these problems ever be solved through incremental policy changes or is their magnitude an indication of the need for a more radical approach? What are the political and economic obstacles to the resolution of the Third World’s environmental problems and how might they be overcome? These questions illustrate the need for an approach that integrates political, economic and ecological issues as the basis for an effective response to contemporary environmental problems. Third World Political Ecology provides an introduction to an exciting new research field that aims to develop an integrated understanding of the political economy of environmental change in the Third World. The authors review the historical development of the field, explain what is distinctive about Third World political ecology, and suggest areas for the future development of the field. The idea of a ‘politicised environment’ is elaborated so as to clarify the essentially politicised condition of environmental change today. The authors explore in detail the role of various actors—states, multilateral institutions, businesses, environmental non-governmental organisations, poverty-stricken farmers, shifting cultivators and other ‘grassroots’ actors—in the development of the Third World’s politicised environment. They argue that only such an understanding can help to clarify, let alone solve, the environmental problems that plague parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Se considera que la ecología política, como campo teórico, fue tomando cuerpo en la década de 1980, cuando se gestaba con mayor claridad un encuentro de aportes provenientes de distintas disciplinas abocadas al estudio del conflicto por el acceso, despojo, uso y usufructo de los territorios y los recursos que estos contienen (incluyendo, en muchos casos, el reconocimiento y la verificación de las contrafuerzas existentes y sus propuestas alternativas). Si bien el proceso de despojo y usufructo privado de los recursos naturales no es nuevo, sino por el contrario, algo estructural del sistema actual de producción, es cada vez más claro que la creciente acumulación de capital demanda una explotación y transformación mayor del entorno natural y social con implicaciones desiguales, sinérgicas e incluso irreversibles.
This International Handbook unites many of the world’s leading scholars of political ecology, while also introducing new and less heard voices from that community. While its international lineage is a long one, the field’s present form notably dates from the 1970s through the 1990s, when debates over politics, power, class, the state, gender and North–South relations helped to crystallize thinking in political ecology. As the size of the political ecology community as well as its global reach (both what is studied and who does the studying) have continued to expand, those debates have persisted and been joined by new ones.