In mainstream economics, environmental concerns are often interpreted as technical issues related to the inefficient allocation of natural resources. According to this perspective, scarcity drives the need to establish environmental policies, and ‘correct prices’ – reflecting environmental costs and benefits – are the instrument of choice to leverage on market forces to solve environmental problems. In this seminar we will introduce environmental degradation as a phenomenon central to economic processes and will discuss the implications of the distribution of environmental goods and bads from an environmental justice perspective. The political ecology and ecological economics approaches will inform the presentation and highlight the political, rather than technical, nature of (global and local) environmental struggles challenging the hypothesis that environmental goods are luxury goods. These struggles demonstrate that the centrality of environmental inputs and outputs in economic processes is reflected in the processes of production by economically marginalized individuals and communities.
Lorenzo Pellegrini is Associate Professor at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University, the Netherlands. His (action oriented) research focuses on the socio-environmental impacts of natural resources extraction in Latin America and on environmental justice. He has published in several peer reviewed journals, including World Development, Capitalism Nature Socialism and Development and Change.