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ICTA-UAB researcher Joan Martinez Alier receives ERC Advanced Grant to analyze Global Environmental Justice Movement

The project will expand the Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas), a worldwide inventory of ecological distribution conflicts. The initiative will analyze the alliance between the Global Environmental Justice Movement and the Degrowth movement in Europe.

Is there a Global Movement for Environmental Justice helping to push society and economy towards environmental sustainability? The project “ENVJUSTICE” led by ICTA-UAB researcher Joan Martinez Alier will try to prove there is through research on the many facets of this Global Movement for Environmental Justice. The project will be possible thanks to an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) awarded to Joan Martinez Alier with a fund of nearly €2 million. This is the most prestigious grant awarded by ERC, and it is designed to allow outstanding research leaders of any nationality and age to pursue groundbreaking, high-risk projects in Europe.

ENVJUSTICE will carry out three main tasks. First, the team will add and analyze cases in a groundbreaking Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas) (, a worldwide inventory of ecological distribution conflicts compiled at the ICTA-UAB, still with uneven coverage. Researchers will update and expand the EJAtlas which was launched in March 2014 as part of the EJOLT project ( It will grow thematically and geographically, becoming a unique instrument to conduct comparative, statistical political ecology. The field of political ecology studies “ecological distribution conflicts” ultimately caused by the increase in social metabolism. The links between such socio-environmental conflicts and changes in the social metabolism will be explored. “Even a non-growing industrial economy would require new supplies of fossil fuels and other materials from the commodity extraction frontiers because energy is not recycled and materials are recycled only in part”, says Martinez Alier who adds that the economy is not circular, but entropic “there are therefore many resource extraction and waste disposal conflicts, at different scales, such as greenhouse gases”.

Research based on the EJAtlas will analyze the resistance movements born from such conflicts and the networks they form across borders in a Global Environmental Justice Movement. The project will try to provide answers to questions such as: Who are the social actors and victims in such conflicts, the forms of mobilization, the variables explaining the rates of “success” in creating new alternatives? In this regard, ENVJUSTICE will work together with the project Acknowl-EJ led by Dr Leah Temper (2016-19) at ICTA-UAB and funded by the ISSC (

Second, it shall expand the scope and deepen the analysis of the Vocabulary of the Movement for Environmental Justice, from its beginning in the United States in 1982 (with terms like environmental racism, popular epidemiology, sacrifice zones) to its deployment in many countries with new crosscutting concepts. In Paris in 2015 (at the 21st COP on Climate Change) there were claims for “Climate Justice”. This is only one of many terms in the vocabulary of environmental justice. The project will investigate how different claims are expressed in Europe, India, China, Africa, Latin America, related to mining and fossil fuel extraction conflicts, biomass and water, waste disposal and transport conflicts.

Third, it shall analyze (following in the steps of Sicco Mansholt and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen) the elements for a possible alliance between the Global Environmental Justice movement and the smaller Degrowth (Décroissance, Post-Wachstum, “Prosperity without Growth”) movement in Europe.

ENVJUSTICE reinforces the Ecological Economics and Political Ecology group at ICTA-UAB, being able to give contracts to 6 doctoral students / post-docs. Calls will be made in June 2016.

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