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Law & Political Ecology
Political ecology is a powerful new discipline that asks us to examine a critical but neglected aspect of modern life – the sources of our social wealth. This has long been a concern in the field of political economy, but political ecology focuses on a particular aspect of this, posing the question: How does nature subsidize our institutional and cultural life? To understand how wealth is created takes us beyond the usual concerns of environmental law and forces us to examine our economic dependence and how institutions are designed.
Our current governance systems are in need of ecological reform – from the unsustainable exploitation of resources such as water and forests, to the high throughput demanded by our urban infrastructure and our dependence on economic growth.
It has been taken on faith that through the application of scientific knowledge and appropriate regulation society can enjoy the benefits of a consumer lifestyle and still maintain an acceptable level of ecological health. The pace of the earth’s decline demonstrates otherwise. Extractive, linear, unsustainable modes of production and consumption must be replaced by circular, reflective systems of social, cultural, and economic practice. A prime objective of POLIS’s research in the area of law and political ecology is to explore frameworks for governance that support this transformation. This is the pressing task of legal reform today, to foster new systems that can take us beyond such dependence through the pursuit of whole systems of ecological governance.
Related Projects and Initiatives
- Green Legal Theory Project, a current POLIS project to explore how to create transformative and ecologically based social, economic and political institutions
- Earth Law Centre, a California-based “think, share and do” organization that promotes the intrinsic value, interdependence, and legal rights of all Earth’s inhabitants and ecosystems, led by POLIS affiliate Linda Sheehan.
- Earth Law Centre's submission on the zero draft of the outcome document for the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio +20).
- Environmental Indicators, a POLIS report (and web site) tracking Canada’s progress on environmental issues.
- Unnatural Law: Rethinking Canadian Law and Environmental Policy, a book (and web site) by POLIS Research Associate David Boyd. Read recent media release from UBC Press.
- The Commons Conference, co-sponsored by POLIS in April 2006 as part of the former Forum on Privatization and the Public Domain
- Coffee With Pleasure: Just Java and World Trade, by POLIS Research Associate Laure Waridel, co-founder of Équiterre
- “Small Small” – Ecological Governance in Nigeria, a discussion paper by POLIS Research Associate Gail Hochachka
- Developing Sustainability, Developing the Self: An Integral Approach to International and Community Development (PDF of exec summary), a booklet produced by POLIS Research Associate Gail Hochachka, founder of the Drishti Centre for Integral Action
- Nature, Production, Power: Towards an Ecological Political Economy, Edited by Fred Gale and Michael M'Gonigle (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2000)
- Testimony by Linda Sheehan, Earth Law Center to the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture Sacramento, CA. (February 22, 2012)
Page last updated: 02/07/2013