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Economic tools for evaluating liabilities in environmental justice struggles. The EJOLT experience

Ejolt report 16: Economic  tools for evaluating liabilities in environmental justice struggles. The EJOLT experience

The report can be downloaded here.


Collaboration to deploy economic evaluation tools is a recent form of interaction between academia and social movements as a means to pursue more sustainable futures. Specifically, academics and environmental justice organisations (EJOs) conduct monetary valuations, cost-benefit analyses (CBAs) and multi-criteria analyses (MCA), in order to explore and reveal the un-sustainability of environmentally controversial projects. The effectiveness of such evaluation tools for pursuing environmental justice is still a matter of debate.

In this document, we report on the EJOLT project experience of developing evaluation processes between EJOs and academics in the context of specific environmental justice struggles. This resulted in a mutual-learning process that explored the conditions under which CBA, MCA, and economic valuation tools can be either enabling or disabling for EJOs in their struggles for environmental justice.

The outcomes suggest that methods are more effectively used through carefully planned interventions supporting debates on local futures and visions, and when there are complementarities with regulatory and institutional developments. Oppositely, evaluation methods disable local mobilization when they force communities to bring their concerns into assessment schemes that do not fit their own languages and concerns, when they reproduce uneven power relations, or where public decisions have little to do with formulating and advancing ‘reasoned arguments’. Insights on the benefits from science-activism collaboration and recommendations on the use of evaluation tools are finally outlined.

Keywords: evaluation tools, environmental justice, environmental liabilities, cost-benefit analysis, multi-criteria analysis, monetary valuation

Authors: Christos Zografos and Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos  (ICTA-UAB). Contributions by: Cem İskender Aydin (UVSQ-REEDS), Andrea Cardoso (ICTA-UAB), Paul Matiku and  Serah Munguti, (Nature Kenya), Martin O’Connor (UVSQ-REEDS), Godwin Ojo (ERA/FotEN), Begum Özkaynak (Boğaziçi University), Todor Slavov and Desislava Stoyanova (Za Zemiata), Lidija Živčič (Focus)