How Environmental Movements Shape the Global

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 12:45
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Geoffrey PLEYERS, University of Louvain & College d'Etudes Mondiales, Belgium
Social movements are both products and producers of global transformations. Both the meaning and the reality of the global have considerably evolved since the start of the century and environmentalist movements have taken an active part in it.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork with a range of movements and actors (local food movements, young environmental activists, de-growth, “buen vivir” in Ecuador, ENGOs, political ecology intellectuals in Europe and Latin America…), I analyse how environmentalist movements have contributed to frame and shape the “global” by focusing successively in three of its interconnected meanings.

1. After a fast process globalization of social movements in the late 1990 and early 2000, environmentalist movements now combine it with the will to put “relocalization” at core of their practices, claims and alternative societal project.

2. Actors of all sectors of the environmentalist movements foster more holistic approaches of local and global challenges. They link climate change with social and economic issues, connect daily-life consumption with citizenship and personal responsibility and promote a holistic approach of the “good life” that challenges the concept of development.

3. Finally, these actors contribute to a shift from “globalization” to what Albrow (1996) has called the “Global Age”. They promote worldviews, practices and epistemologies that take into account two major feature of this global age: an increasing interdependence at the scale of humanity and the finitude of the planet.

A study of the practices, claims and meanings of these actors provide us with empirical material to understand today’s world. It also points to some major challenges of social sciences that remain deeply rooted in the modern project, unlimited growth and permanent expansion.