In 2012 protests erupted in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina over the demolition of a much beloved local park to build a business complex. A movement under the slogan “This Park is Ours” aimed originally at protecting the green space soon broadened into a collective movement aimed against corruption, lack of transparency, economic inequality and dwindling social services. Hundreds of protesters from all social classes and religions gathered daily in the endangered park, becoming part of a Bosnian spring that came to represent a struggle for human dignity and accountability under most articulated civic movement since the 1992-1995 war.
From Banja Luka to Gezi Park, Turkey to Rosia Montana, Romania to the land wars across India, social conflicts are increasingly playing out through battles around environmental resources and in defence of common land.
These struggles have sometimes toppled governments, such as the coup in Madagascar in 2008 that brought “land-grabbing” to global attention when Daewoo was given a lease to grow food and biofuels for export on half the country’s land. But most of the time, the evictions, forced relocations and the violent repression of those impacted by contamination from gold mines, oil extraction, plantations and agribusiness operations are rarely covered in the press. Ecological violence inflicted upon the poor is often not news but simply considered to be part of the costs of “business as usual”.
While statistics on strike action have been collected since the late 19th century for many countries and now globally by the International Labour Organisation, there is no one body that tracks the occurrence and frequency of mobilisations and protests related to the environment. It was this need to better understand and to track such contentious activity that motivated the Atlas of Environmental Justice project, an online interactive map that catalogues localised stories of resistance against damaging projects: from toxic waste sites to oil refining operations to areas of deforestation.
EJatlas aims to make ecological conflicts more visible and to highlight the structural impacts of economic activities on the most vulnerable populations. It serves as a reference for scientists, journalists, teachers and a virtual space for information, networking and knowledge sharing among activists, communities and concerned citizens.
Read the full story: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/201…