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India travels and transitioning Luxembourg

Appropriate thresholds and scales of change

Katy Fox

This is a new year’s letter written by the founder of the Centre for Ecological Learning Luxembourg (CELL) to the executive board on the occasion of a journey to India. CELL is an independent, volunteer-led grassroots nonprofit organization founded in 2010 and based in Beckerich. CELL’s scope of action is the Greater Region of Luxembourg, hence its mode of operating through decentralized action groups in order to establish and maintain community gardens, food co-ops, and other social-ecological projects in different parts of Luxembourg. CELL also develops and organizes various courses, provides consultancy services for ecological living, participates in relevant civil society campaigns, and does some practical research on low-impact living. The broad objective of CELL is to provide an experimental space for thinking, researching, disseminating, and practicing lifestyles with a low impact on the environment, and learning the skills for creating resilient post-carbon communities. CELL is inspired by the work of the permaculture and Transition Towns social movements in its aims to relocalize culture and economy and, in that creative process, improve resilience to the consequences of peak oil and climate change.

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Sara Yaneth Fernández Moreno

*Full article is in Spanish

Hasta 2004, la población desplazada en Colombia estaba expuesta a la vulneración masiva y sostenida de varios derechos constitucionales, y a la prolongada omisión de las autoridades del Estado en el cumplimiento de sus obligaciones y en garantizar los derechos y las acciones institucionales necesarias para evitar la vulneración de los derechos de esta población, cada vez más creciente en el país.1 En ese mismo año, se expide la Sentencia T-025/2004 de la Corte Constitucional colombiana, donde declara el “estado de cosas inconstitucional,” reitera los derechos constitucionales de la población afectada por el desplazamiento forzado, e imparte una serie de órdenes para proteger los derechos de la población afectada por el fenómeno.

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Ndangwa Noyoo

Social cohesion is a powerful force that has helped to change and reshape the political landscape of southern Africa in the last four decades. However, social cohesion is rarely factored into regional integration endeavors in this part of Africa, which are in the main, geared towards economic imperatives. With economic development as the primary objective of nations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the assumption here seems to centre on the notion that once the region has been economically integrated, then human development would follow. This thinking is in line with the neo-liberal paradigm of “trickle down” economics which has not been very helpful to states of this region. Nonetheless, this lop-sided view of regional integration has a history.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Regional integration is generally discussed in terms of supranational political cooperation and the integration of economic markets. Since its inception, this journal has noted that political and academic discussions of regionalism focus more on the integration of territories and markets than on the role that people play in these processes. This issue of Regions & Cohesion directly addresses this by “bringing the people back in.”

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Sabine Weiland, Vivien Weiss, and John Turnpenny

Ecological challenges are becoming more and more complex, as are their effects on nature and society and the actions to address them. Calls for a more sustainable development to address these challenges and to mitigate possible negative future impacts are not unproblematic, particularly due to the complexity, uncertainty, and long-term nature of possible consequences (Newig et al. 2008). Knowledge about the various impacts—be they ecological, economic, or social—policies might have is therefore pivotal. But the relationship between such knowledge and the myriad ways it may be used is particularly challenging. The example of policy impact assessment systems is a case in point. Recent years have seen an institutionalization of such systems for evaluating consequences of regulatory activities across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD 2008) and the European Union (CEC 2002). It is argued that, by utilizing scientific and other evidence, impact assessment has the potential to deliver more sustainable policies and to address large-scale global challenges.

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Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

In the editorial note of the first issue of Regions & Cohesion, we directly asked ourselves and our readers: What role do people play in regional integration processes? Regions have, indeed, developed in different ways and for different reasons. One of the main questions behind the mission of this journal asks: Are territories serving their citizens, or do citizens serve the needs of expanding territories and interconnected markets?

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Fostering peace through dialogue

The international social democratic movement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Pentti Väänänen

The Socialist International (SI), the worldwide forum of the socialist, social democratic, and labor parties, actively looked for a solution to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in the 1980s. At that time, the Israeli Labour Party still was the leading political force in Israel, as it had been historically since the foundation of the country. The Labour Party was also an active member of the SI. The Party’s leader, Shimon Peres, was one of its vice-presidents. At the same time, the social democratic parties were the leading political force in Western Europe. Several important European leaders, many of them presidents and prime ministers, were involved in the SI’s work. They included personalities such as Willy Brandt of Germany; former president of the SI, Francois Mitterrand of France; James Callaghan of Great Britain; Bruno Kreisky of Austria; Bettini Craxi of Italy; Felipe Gonzalez of Spain; Mario Soares of Portugal; Joop de Uyl of the Netherlands; Olof Palme of Sweden; Kalevi Sorsa of Finland; Anker Jörgensen of Denmark; and Gro Harlem Brudtland of Norway—all of whom are former vice-presidents of the SI. As a result, in the 1980s, the SI in many ways represented Europe in global affairs, despite the existence of the European Community (which did not yet have well-defined common foreign policy objectives).

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Gilberto Conde

*Full editorial is in Spanish

Las rebeliones populares árabes de 2011 constituyen uno de esos raros acontecimientos que sacuden al mundo y de los que se seguirá hablando durante décadas. A menudo nos acostumbramos a situaciones cómodamente cotidianas olvidando que el cambio, lo impermanente, es lo único continuo. Los recientes movimientos árabes son una prueba de ello. Quizás se popularizó llamar “primavera árabe” a estos sucesos por lo refrescante y agradable que resultaba ver desde fuera lo que acontecía en una región en la que se pensaba que el tiempo se había congelado, en sociedades que se pensaban inmutables. Todos los autores aquí reunidos, especialistas en estudios del Medio Oriente, consideramos importante estudiar, entender estas rebeliones, y analizar qué es lo que cambia y lo que permanece. ¿Una región pulsante, activa, es una región cohesionada? Queremos averiguarlo; por ello este número especial de Regiones y Cohesión y mis siguientes reflexiones a manera de introducción.

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Michael Provence

Since March 2011, Syrian citizens have challenged their government through street protests and, more recently, armed confrontations. Both the protest movement and the government’s response to it have their roots in the recent past. This article examines the contours of the last decade, and events in Syria since 2011, to understand the origins of popular protest and the origins of the Syrian government’s largely military response. Protest and dissent appeared after Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000. The government’s response to such protest was not predetermined, but was rather the result of specific governing structures and political choices made by state elites.

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Introduction

Capitalism and the Environment

Paige West and Dan Brockington

Capitalism is the dominant global form of political economy. From business-as-usual resource extraction in the Global South to the full-scale takeover of the United Nations 2012 conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Brazil by corporations advocating the so-called green economy, capitalism is also one of the two dominant modes of thinking about, experiencing, and apprehending the natural world. The other dominant mode is environmentalism. There are many varieties of environmentalism, but the dominant mode we refer to is “mainstream environmentalism.” It is represented by powerful nongovernmental organizations and is characterized by its closeness to power, and its comfort with that position. Th is form of environmentalism is a well-meaning, bolstered by science, view of the world that sees the past as a glorious unbroken landscape of biological diversity. It continuously works to separate people and nature, at the same time as its rhetoric and intent is to unite them. It achieves that separation physically, through protected areas; conceptually, by seeking to value nature and by converting it to decidedly concepts such as money; and ideologically, through massive media campaigns that focus on blaming individuals for global environmental destruction.