‘Ecolonisation’ – Why a ‘Greener’ Future Paints a Less Than Rosy Picture for Africa

Posted on: 25 May 2015

Large-scale land acquisitions in Africa by powerful multinationals are often achieved with a nod to a ‘greener’ future. However, they often displace locals and really represent ecological contradictions, merely increasing the stranglehold of the political elite and foreign investors on priceless ecological resources. 

That is according to Associate Professor in Geography in the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Pádraig Carmody, who works in Africa to assess the drivers and results of such ‘land grabs’.

Land is often acquired in Africa under the auspices of climate change mitigation measures, such as sustainable timber plantations designed to lock up carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and speed up global warming. Often, these measures are fronted by multinationals looking to boost their green credentials.

But this displaces local people – often violently – which, in turn, deepens their dependence on the State. In addition, by acquiring land, powerful multinationals merely tighten their grip on the world’s dwindling ecological resources.

Dr Carmody said: “We have coined such land grabs ‘ecolonisation,’ to show the way in which the impacts of the over-production of pollution in the Global North is being displaced onto the poor of the Global South.”

Dr Carmody and Professor David Taylor of the National University of Singapore recently received the 2015 Robert Chambers Award from the Development Studies Association of Ireland for a paper based on the concept of ecolonisation.

Professor Robert Chambers is a passionate researcher and advocate of empowerment in the field of development studies. The award was given to Dr Carmody and Professor Taylor as the authors of the most innovative paper with the potential to make a significant contribution to empowering the world’s poor to achieve just and sustainable development.

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